Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tips to Better Communications

While in graduate school, I took a class on Human Relations. I expected it to be like any other class: compromised of a sizeable amount of students and an instructor dictating information. The reality of the class was very different. There were only about eight students and an instructor who said very little. The first day he directed us to talk, after that, he remained silent. His role was to sit back and watch as we talked.

The professor had formed a T- Group. A T-Group is a type of sensibility training, introduced by social psychologist Kurt Lewin, in which participants learn about themselves through their interactions with others. The first lesson of the group was that although people talk they do not always communicate (1). People struggle with communication because even though they may know what they want to say in their minds, when they speak, it does not always translate in the way that they intended it to.

Having proper communication is a very important aspect of being a successful employee. Being a good communicator makes all the difference between leaving a meeting feeling accomplished versus leaving a meeting feeling defeated. If you do not communicate well verbally, your ideas may be ignored and your career can suffer. 

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey strongly argues that a person’s rhetoric is obsolete if their character is flawed. He quotes philosopher, essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What you are shouts so loudly in my ear I cannot hear what you say”. Fundamentally, if your character is weak then what you say is not important. However, even Covey had to agree that although one may possess character strength, if he or she lacks communication skills, the quality of his or her personal and professional relationships is negatively affected (2).

Communication is not only limited to speech. At work, employees communicate in various ways. With the role of technology in everyday work transactions for example, writing a proper email or presenting a successful PowerPoint are just as vital to business success.

A good guide to help improve the way you communicate at work is 50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication by Dr. Phil Bozek (3). The book offers several tips to improve communications in various settings, primarily meetings, business writings, presentations and PowerPoint. The tips are quite simple and highly applicable to any business environment. For example, Bozek encourages employees to evaluate their meetings after having them by writing out what worked
 and what may need improvement in order to ensure that future meetings are more productive. In terms of e-mails, he notes that organizing them in a certain way, with proper spaces and margins for instance, makes the content easier to read; therefore allows you to get your point across more efficiently. As far as presentations, Dr. Bozek suggests that making eye contact with the right audience members and in turn retaining their attention is just as important as the information that you are providing.

The book provides several other helpful tips & is available for purchase on Amazon.

1. Francisco, R. P. Five Levels of Interpersonal Communication: A Model That Works Across Cultures. In M. B. A. L. Cooke, Reading Book for Human Relations 8th edition.
2. Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon and Schuster
3. Phillip E. Bozek, Ph.D (2009). 50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication, Third Edition. Axzo Press

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