Perhaps you have noticed that it is not always the smartest or most capable person that gets a promotion or has management roles seemingly thrust at them. Studies have shown that a person with better communication skills can typically achieve a higher level of success than someone who simply has the highest qualifications on paper. This is good news for anyone looking to develop the skills it takes to stand out as an excellent leader and communicator. Here are just a few ways you can improve your communication skills.
1. Always maintain control of your emotions in stressful situations
Leaders are often called upon to make difficult decisions under circumstances that are not ideal. If you can keep a cool head and calmly make decisions in a crisis, the people around you will begin to recognize you as the go-to leader when new or challenging situations arise.
2. Remain focused on the conversation at hand
When you are in the middle of working on a project it is easy to get tunnel vision that prevents you from focusing on what is happening around you. When someone engages you in conversation always make an effort to stay focused on what they are saying. One way to make sure you are truly focused on the conversation is to occasionally repeat back your understanding of what the other person just told you, not only will this behavior make them feel you value their input enough to listen, it will also increase the level of respect they have for you as a leader.
3. Pay attention to your body language
As a leader, it is important to remember that your body language can be just as important as what you say. If you are in the middle of a conversation with someone and they see you furrowing your brows or not making eye contact, they could walk away with the impression that you are disinterested or angry with them. Try to maintain a neutral expression when conversing with your staff or coworkers.
4. Do not interrupt
When you are a leader, people will often approach you because you have the answers, however, it can be easy to speak without a full understanding of what is being asked and provide someone with incorrect information. Always allow the other person to finish their thought and ask their question in its entirety so you can provide a thoughtful, helpful answer.
5. Do not make snap judgments when speaking to someone
Occasionally, leaders are sought out when someone has made a mistake or poor business decision. If someone you are leading comes to you and admits something they have done something wrong, try your best to withhold judgment. Sometimes this will require you to simply listen to their side of the story and reschedule a meeting later in the day or week to discuss a more productive course of action. Other times, it may be as simple as asking them what their solution to the issue would be and addressing it from that angle.
6. Be consistent with your feedback
When you are leading people, ensure that you look for opportunities to consistently offer positive and negative feedback. Many issues in corporations can be prevented by simply mentioning positive behavior when you see it and constructively pointing out negative behaviors as they occur in hopes of it ending there.
If you are looking for ways to lead more effectively, communicating better is one of the easiest and most valuable skills you can learn. Effective communication will help you to gain the trust and respect of individuals around you, which is one of the most valuable assets you can acquire as a leader.