Learn about how to listen actively, leave a good voicemail, convey tone in an email, and not bore your boss.
- Being an excellent communicator isn't a simple formula. Successful communication varies depending on your medium. With more people traveling, working remotely, and doing business internationally, you're going to find yourself in a lot of nuanced communication situations. Let's unpack the differences based on venue. In-person communication is the most nuanced, and it's one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the masses. No matter who you're communicating with, pay attention to your eye contact.
Being face-to-face gives you the chance to strengthen that emotional impact through eye contact. People naturally lean into a conversation because they consciously and subconsciously see that you're listening and engaged. Second, look at your facial expressions. Now, I confess, this one is really tough for me. When I'm really focused, sometimes I look like I'm really angry. You don't have to plaster on some fake smile, but do pay attention to how your face looks in important conversations.
Third, your posture. Your posture indicates the same thing as eye contact, your interest in the conversation. Lean in, and nod, and stand up straight. When you're on the phone, you lose the opportunity for eye contact, facial expressions, and body language. But there are ways you can manage your presence. First, affirm their tone. Listening for the other person's speed and cadence will help you. You don't have to mimic them, but do be conscious of their pace.
Remember, they can't see you nodding, so these small words like "Yes" and "I see," show the listener you're paying attention. Also pay attention to your surroundings. Try your best to make these phone calls in a quiet environment, and if you're using a headset, make sure the quality is good. These small details demonstrate intentionality and commitment to the conversation. Now, let's talk about the toughest form of communication, emails. Never have so many people misread someone's intentions or made an incorrect assumption than an email message.
Here are some of the best practices to help you stay successful. First, proof it! I know, I know, you don't have time to meticulously proof every email. Nobody does. But give it a quick skim, and pay special attention to things like names, dates, and times. I confess, I am a terrible proofreader, and I've made some pretty terrible typos, one with a potential client. And I can tell you, Cathie with an I-E does not like it when you spell Cathy with a Y.
Trust me, it is worth the 20 seconds to read it over. Another thing you can do is respond. Just because you got the email doesn't mean the other party knows you read it. If someone sends you something, especially if it's a superior, a short reply like, "I'll handle this," or "Thanks" lets them know you're taking action. Third, keep it short. Don't provide a dissertation no one has the time to read. People are scanning things, so use bullets when you can.
Benjamin Franklin once said, "If I had more time, "I would have written you a shorter letter." It takes more time to say things concisely, but if it's going to a higher-up, that time is well-spent. Use professional language. Not every email needs a "Dear so-and-so" or a "Warm regards" after it, but do use some punctuation, and avoid text abbreviations unless they're known throughout the company. You don't want someone trying to decode that LMAO. Last thing about email, it's not always the best medium.
A good rule of thumb to follow is, if you see emotion in an email, pick up the phone. Things can go south very quickly via email. You want to be a problem-solver, not a problem-starter. Whether it's in person, over the phone, or over email, your communication creates your reputation. Handle it wisely.
- Knowing when to step up and when to step down
- Dialing into leadership language
- Listening actively
- Creating supporters
- Interacting with your peers, your boss, and senior leadership
- Owning a failure, even if it was not your fault
- What to do when you are promotable, and your peers are not
- When and how to ask for the promotion