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In this weekly series, Todd Dewett, PhD, shares the tips respected and motivated managers use to improve rapport, navigate tricky situations, build better relationships, and drive the business forward. Each week, we'll release two tips ranging from avoiding the dreaded micromanagement to managing a multigenerational workforce, cultivating better listening skills, and developing an understanding of your organization's politics. Check back every Wednesday for more Management Tips.
This course qualifies for 5.25 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
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- Communication is well known to be among the most important business and life skills. That's ironic, given how little time we spend talking about and learning about how to be better communicators. If you want to take this topic seriously, there's no shortage of high-quality resources out there to help you. These include books, blogs, coaches, training courses, and so on. However, I want you to get started quickly, right now, with three very simple tips that can take the quality of your communication to the next level.
The first tip is to make a conscious choice to stop overusing electronic communication. It's common to overuse email, texting, and instant messaging. We do this because they're fast and convenient. However, they're not high quality, especially texting and instant messaging. Very often we use these tools and think we're sending messages. But we're really sending muddled messages, and sometimes confusing messages. In fact, if you're the boss, it's wise to openly talk about this issue with your team.
The goal is that all important conversation takes place face-to-face. Only face-to-face can you read nonverbal movements effectively, interpret their tone, and have the opportunity to fully interact. More daring companies have even experimented with weekly bans on electronic communication, such as No-Email Fridays. Next, if face-to-face is so important, well, you need feedback on your skill in this area. You can get it two ways. First, you can go find one or two people you know to be very high-quality communicators, ones you feel will be straight with you, and ask them for feedback.
Ask them what one thing you could do differently to be more effective interpersonally. The second method is painful but awesome. Get yourself captured on video talking with others at a meeting, and if possible, giving a presentation in a professional context. When you watch that video, you'll see yourself as others see you, and it might surprise you, but it will also show you a few clear ways you can step up your game. Some of you might need to learn to stop interrupting people.
Others will learn you need to slow down. Still others will realize they have to stop overusing jargon. The video doesn't lie. Finally, make it a habit near the end of important professional conversations to ask your partner if they understood what you were trying to say. You're not looking for a simple nod or a "yes," you're looking for them to quickly state what they heard, their own little summary. You see, we often think others understood us, and they might even think they did.
But only when you do this type of check at the end can you be sure. Communication is a vital skill. Don't assume you know enough about it. Assume you can do better. Start by using the tips we just covered, and you'll move past being heard. You'll be understood.
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