Communication is one of the most highly prized skills a person can have in the modern workforce. Forbes contributor Greg Satell goes as far as to describe it as the most important skill of today. Constant updates, catch-up meetings and day-to-day internal communication, whether face to face or through the medium of a web or teleconference, dominate the modern professional environment.
Due to this, lacking essential communication skills may leave you challenged in the office. If your work involves communication across a broad range of clients and employees, and you feel the message just isn't getting through or that you are going in circles on a particular issue, we look to the professionals to see what we can do about it.
1. Listen actively
There are several barriers to effective listening, according to the University of Missouri – humans think at a faster rate than we speak, but we also have the mental capacity to comprehend a person speaking at the improbable rate of 400 words a minute. The theory follows that when we're listening to a person talking at an average 125 words per minute, our minds can wander off topic.
This is where active listening comes in. Dr John Grohol, writing for PsychCentral, explains that active listening is about creating a rapport with the speaker, building mutual understanding and trust.
According to Dr Grohol, by focusing on actively listening we begin to hear not what we think is being said or what we expect to hear, but what the speaker is actually saying.
2. Identify what you or the other party wants
In Psychology Today, Dr Jennice Vilhauer detailed an issue she had picked up with one of her clients in a recent session. Her client fixated on what the other party was doing wrong, and took repeated prompting until they were able to pinpoint how they would like the behaviour in question to change.
If you're facing an issue with a client or employee on your next web conference, rather than focusing your energy on dissecting the problem behaviour, try to direct attention towards the desired outcome instead. So rather than "what is going wrong?" Dr Vilhauer suggests conversation more along the line of "what could be done differently?".
While we don't have control over other people's responses, Dr Vilhauer reminds us that we still exercise reasonable influence through our personal behaviour.
"If you know what you are trying to achieve from the conversation, i.e, what it is you want," states Dr Vilhauer, "then staying focused on that goal will go a long way to helping you get there."