I come from humble family background, my parents were like any parent who would put their children’s education on top priority. Having said that my big fat family is full of authors, orators & professors who made sure that their knowledge is well spread among generations.
One thing that runs well in the family is “The gift of gab”, each one of us come with worthy communication skill, but not everyone gets it right all the time, we still end up misunderstanding landing to communication gaps.
This is the reason why Communication is considered a skill is because it can and it must be honed. In this article, I would take you through some best practices to learn & practice the skill of communication in your daily life and also throw some light on ‘what not to do’.
Quoting George Bernard Shaw “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”, it is imperative to understand the repercussions of misinterpreted communication. Most of the time, it is because of the assumptions we create based on our previous experience, failed understanding of language or terminology, bias & prejudices.
Hence when we think of developing this skill, we need to have a well-rounded approach.
Being earnest communicators can make us better executives, team leaders, negotiators, home managers, partners and so much more. We can manage complex activities, delegate efficiently, handle the challenging conversation, conflicts, encourage our people, and strengthen relationships. Effective communication not only empowers one to express but also enables one to be an empathetic listener.
Many times I get asked by my trainees “If the language has to be a deal-breaker in communication” to which I say that language does help you avoid miscommunication but the real deal-breaker are three A’s of Communication; Articulation, Assertiveness & Authenticity.
Articulation: Regardless of how engaging or interesting your content is, it will turn out to be an uphill struggle to influence, inspire, or inform your audience about your purpose of communication. To be able to speak your mind, you need to develop your thinking ability followed by practice to express your thoughts by:
- storytelling (written + oral),
- record and listen to yourself while speaking,
- identify your unique fillers and consciously work on removing them
- Time your speed
- build on your vocabulary
- applaud yourself for your minute progress
- Take inspiration from good speakers
- Listen to podcasts & attend speaking sessions
- Participate in open mics
- Dissect your weaknesses & work on them one at a time
Assertiveness: You must have heard a term called “being your advocate”, this best describes the quality of assertiveness.
Another common complaint I hear from managers, parents, teachers, sales associates, or people of a similar profession is “unable to say no” “cannot reprimand”, “unable to question back”, I am sure it happens with many of you when you find it hard to put your point of view with clarity & conviction. The reason behind this is lack of discipline, wrongly set examples, poorly defined goals, lack of confidence, self-ego. Hence you end up either compromising or land in trouble due to poor decision making.
Assertiveness is all about setting expectations from the communication that is about to happen, it is about managing their emotions. If you make sure to clearly define your purpose of the discussion and what does it mean to you. Set goals for yourself & your teams, communicate about your time commitments well in advance. Here are a few tips to practice Assertive Communication;
- Do a tech rehearsal to practice how you would like to look and sound
- Remain focussed on the issue & do not stray
- Use the technique of calm repetition of your point even though you feel others being argumentative
- Accept the criticism, acknowledge it and bring the discussion back to the original point
- If you feel cornered by your audience, do not be apologetic in your discussion, in place of using phrases like “I am sorry”, say “I accept my mistakes and I believe I can improve on myself”
- Remember to always conclude by rephrasing yourself
- Make sure to use a non-manipulative language & adopt a non-judgemental approach
Do not forget effective assertive communication is not about being rude or derogatory to someone, instead, it is about knowing & understanding the expectations of your teams and communicating your goals so that together you can drive effective collaboration.
In one of my training cohorts with a group of mid-level managers of a large corporate house, I asked “If there was an upcoming change proposed in the organization which required restructuring, would they as managers be comfortable to communicate to their team leads & members?”, to which here were the common responses “I am not sure”, “I will tell them when the right time comes”. “My team anyways needs restructuring, now I can say on behalf of the organization”, “They will not be able to take it in good spirit”, “Their motivation will be down”.
I noticed that all managers focussed on the final reaction of their team members, very few focussed on the process. I call authenticity in communication as the process that takes time to build. It is not an easy tide to ride. One of the biggest reasons why teams and relationships fail is because we are not focussing on building trust & transparency in our communication.
The next day of the cohort when I tweaked the same question to “how would they feel if they were not told about the big change coming up”, they felt the emotions of:
As quoted by Sheryl Sandberg “I learned that effective communication starts with the understanding that there is MY point of view, (my truth), and someone else’s point of view (his truth)”, this should become the base of communication.
Authentic communication helps in removing barriers of communication, makes you more dependable, and lets you make mistakes in other forms of communication because it gives you the power of people being on your side. After all, miscommunication is reciprocal.
To sum it up, I would say that Communication skill is considered a critical skill for your personal & professional growth. It makes you express, become dependable, lead people, influence, and inspire generations. Remember it neither comes easy nor leaves you high & dry!
Honing it ensures you a lifetime success. Just do not stop attempting and let no barrier (self-constructed or external) come on the way to your long persistent growth.
About the Author
Ms. Neha Mishra, Leadership Trainer, Communication Coach & Partner with Epinomi Consulting is a thought leader & a new gen entrepreneur with 13 years of experience in corporate communication & marketing. She is an MBA by education and is also certified in Neuro-Linguistic Psychology, Career Counselling, Personality Development Analysis, and trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. She also conducts counselling sessions and coaching assignments for individuals. So far, she has trained more than 30000 individuals across age in various skills & self-realization workshops. She is also partners at Epinomi Consulting which is into facilitating transformative learning through customized & blended learning programs.
You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her social media handles: