Every communication is an action; most importantly, there is communication in both words said and unsaid. What we say or don’t say has the power to either build trust or deplete it. And very quickly.
Here are nine communication skills every person in the workforce needs to master.
1. Do what you say, and say what you do.
One of the most powerful drivers is to live in alignment with who we believe are and whom we want to be. People need to be able to read you and see consistency in your behaviours to feel comfortable around you. When our words and actions don’t match, it creates a gap where our integrity is questioned.
2. Set clear expectations of what makes you tick and what you expect.
So that people can understand not only what makes you tick, explain to others how you like to work, how you like to be communicated with, and what you plan to do so that anyone can understand it. Also, it is important to have a discussion around what you expect from your employees so that they know how you will measure their performance.
3. Engage for impact.
A team leader with a big, exciting vision for the organisation that pushes everyone forward gives the team confidence. Team leaders should also know the best way to communicate with each individual at an emotional level to encourage buy-in.
4. Be explicit.
Workplace communication is about reducing ambiguity and uncertainty. Vague information is your worst enemy; communication often gets misconstrued because of too many assumptions. Express what you want and mean with specific actions, avoiding all implicit communication.
5. Be an active listener.
Be present and focused by really listening to your fellow colleagues. You might be surprised by the important information that surfaces when you keep quiet. Three factors of active listening are listening to people and remaining silent, then repeating back the main content of what people say to show that you have heard them, and probing for further information.
6. Have conversations around feedback, not failure.
Master communicators create a safe space where people share information and express their opinions, without blame or judgment. Acknowledge problems, but rather than focusing on them, empower your team to focus on solutions.
7. When we think we have all the answers, we forget the questions.
It is important to break through the habit of making hasty assumptions. Ask questions in your role that gain specificity and improve accountability. Ask outcome-based questions that focus on driving results.
8. Build accountability.
Hold people accountable for both mistakes and successes. Evaluate each project (what was good, what was bad, and what could have been improved). Track weekly accountabilities, and clearly articulate actions to follow up at the end of each meeting.
9. Connect individually with team members.
Of course, you can’t build trust with people if you’re unable to connect with them. Managers should understand that not everyone is the same; take the time to understand each team member’s values, challenges and goals. After establishing common ground with them, you can then align their interests and goals to the broader aim of the organisation and team.
Leaders who communicate honestly and frequently are able to build trust with their employees. They help employees see the meaning in their work. They create a safe environment for people to speak up and be themselves. A high-trust culture means that everyone can rely on the people around them, and the workplace is a fun and enjoyable one where the team works together in pursuit of a common goal.
What do you feel is most important in your business leader’s communication style?