How to Improve Communication Skills in 7 Steps

The ability to communicate well and build relationships with others makes a significant impact on the results you will achieve as an individual and when working with teams. Good communicators encourage two-way dialogue that leads to rich exchanges of information. Armed with this information, they can make better decisions and achieve higher-quality outcomes.

Daily situations require you to communicate effectively with many different kinds of people. Whether you are sharing information, solving a problem, making a decision, exchanging ideas, or building a relationship, the ability to communicate with others is crucial. For nearly 40 years, CMOE has worked to help leaders become more effective communicators.

Key skills that Produce Successful Communication

We have found that mastering a few key skills can have a huge impact on your success.

1) “Prime” the conversation

First, we teach leaders to “prime” their conversations. A primer sets the stage for meaningful dialogue. Rather than going into a tough meeting with a key stakeholder, competing department, or difficult customer cold, a primer establishes a productive tone.

2) Don’t under or overstate your position.

It’s also important to state your position in a way that is neither too aggressive nor too passive. We help leaders paint a picture of what’s happening, clarify their position, and introduce information in a clear and compelling way. This allows you to maintain your position and ensure that others understand your perspective.

3) Test for understanding

Leaders who can invite others to participate in the discussion and proactively check their thinking are more effective at reaching agreements with others. When you master the skill of testing for understanding with another person or team, you can find the gaps between your perspective and theirs. It also minimizes mistakes that result from making assumptions.

Picture of a male and a female discussing something4) Clearly explain your thinking

Any time you have the opportunity to influence others, it requires the ability to clearly explain your thinking. We teach leaders how to articulate the reasoning behind their position. It may mean providing data or preparing a detailed business case to support a proposed change. Making sure your information is factual, reliable, relevant, and digestible will garner support from others.

5) Be aware of your body language

You must also be mindful that your body language doesn’t conflict with the message you are trying to send and that you allow time to explore others’ thinking. Actively exploring the position of the other person allows you to uncover potential barriers and gain a clearer perspective on both sides. It requires good listening skills and the ability to ask effective questions.

6) Keep an open mind

You must be able to keep an open mind, free from judgment, to fully explore potential solutions. Then, you can formulate a plan of action as it emerges. Whenever possible, seeking an outcome that is mutually beneficial generates goodwill and commitment.

7) Identify the next step

The most-effective communicators always identify the takeaway or summarize the next steps before leaving a conversation. Reinforcing next steps and arranging follow-up meetings before leaving a discussion prevents well-intended individuals from becoming distracted by other responsibilities or preoccupied with daily activities when they return to work.

Learn More

Mastering these skills takes time and practice. Contact CMOE to learn more about how we can help you improve your results by becoming a more effective communicator.

 

About the Author

CMOE

CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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