3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Communicate Better

October 16, 2017

These tips will make you a better communicator right away, particularly if you are a manager.

Managing comes down to relationships. And relationships come down to communication.

And yet, how many of us take a course on communication? It’s the most important skill any manager has to learn, and yet we have comparatively little formal education on it.

The solution to that is if you, as a manager, haven’t taken a communication course yet, you should. But, in the meantime, in his LinkedIn Learning course Management Tips Weekly LinkedIn Learning Instructor Todd Dewett offered three things any boss can do to immediately become a better communicator.

What are those three things? Dewett said:

1. Make a conscious choice to stop overusing electronic communication.

Most of us communicate most of the time electronically – email, texting and instant messaging. As a boss, you should guard against this.

Yes, communicating electronically is convenient and fast and good for transactional conversations. But only through face-to-face conversations can a boss read an employee’s body language, interpret their tone and have the opportunity to fully interact, Dewett said.

“If you're the boss, it's wise to openly talk about this issue with your team,” Dewett said. “The goal is that all important conversation takes place face-to-face.”

Bottom line, with email and text, miscommunications are common and emotions can fester. By talking face-to-face, much of that is eliminated.

2. Either get feedback from people you trust or, best (and worst) of all, videotape yourself.

To become a better communicator, you need to identify what your communication weaknesses are. There are two ways to do that.

The first is easier. Ask people you trust for feedback on your communication style and encourage them to be honest. Use that feedback as direction on where to improve.

The second is, as Dewett describes it, “painful but awesome.” And that’s videotaping yourself communicating with others.

There are a few ways to do that. If you are meeting via video conference, generally there is a record option. You could record the meeting and then re-watch it. Or, often companies record bigger meetings, like all-hands meetings. If you present, you should watch the recording of yourself later.

A warning – this isn’t fun. We tend to hate the sound of our own voice and pick apart what we look like. But once you get by that, you can focus on the few things you need to improve on – maybe you need to talk slower, listen better or use less jargon.

3. When you're done talking with an employee, ask them if they understood what you said.

Here’s a small thing you can do right away that’ll ensure you are being heard. When having an important conversation with an employee, ask them if they understand what you are trying to say. And that means not just them nodding yes, but having them summarize your point back to you.

“You see, we often think others understood us, and they might even think they did,” Dewett said. “But only when you do this type of check at the end can you be sure.”

The takeaway

There’s literally no more important skill to a manager than communication. So, if you aren’t constantly working on it, you are doing your team a disservice.

These tips should help. By implementing them, you’ll become a better communicator overnight.

“Communication is a vital skill,” Dewett said. “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.”

Want to learn more? Check out Dewett’s course, Management Tips Weekly, today.