Good communication skills are often ranking high on the list of traits the average professional claims to have on their resume, with a general consensus that communication is important in business. But very often, this declaration feels like little more than lip service, something people know they have to mention if they want to be considered. What exactly do we mean by good communication skills? I have interacted with a lot of people in my capacity as a presentation coach, and I have been exposed to a wide array of people in and out of the workplace. What strikes me is that effective communication is definitely key, but few people seem to get it right.
The problem isn’t necessarily that people aren’t communicating, but they’re not doing it the right way. Having the right sorts of conversations in the workplace helps to build rapport, further professional development and share important ideas, but this can’t happen if the words being spoken don’t seem to ‘count’. Realising what a widespread issue this was, I looked at putting together a step-by-step process that would help people get the most out of their conversations at work, and it all involves putting to yourself four questions.
Where am I most influential at work?
When talking about influence, I do not mean persuasion. What I’m looking at is each person’s natural ability to attract the support of others. Whether or not you consider yourself to be charismatic or naturally gifted with talking to people, we each have a certain capacity to bring others around when we have no real intention of doing so. So forget about the times you have deliberately steered a conversation around to a topic, and consider when others have come to you, seemingly out of the blue, because your presence or behaviour has compelled them to. Think about what you did to produce this reaction from them and break down the specifics.
When do I most often find myself at deadlock?
You know those times: whether the person you are talking to has a particular dislike for you, or it is simply a clash of personalities, we can all think of times when nothing seems to get done because of a fundamental difference of opinion. Thinking about these times, and again, what you did and did not do in terms of attitude, can give a strong indication of how things could be improved. Take time to consider what about you could potentially be rubbing the other person up the wrong way and look at things from their perspective. By opening your mind to how others might perceive you, you can become more thoughtful in your approach.
What happens when I’m thrown in the deep end?
That old adage of ‘fake it til you make it’ may seem cliche, but it can carry a lot of weight in the business world – perhaps not for the reason you think, though. When you find yourself thrown in the deep end at work and having to deal with a situation you don’t feel comfortable or confident in, more often than not, it is your own lack of confidence that throws you off. You may be saying the right words, but your tone and body language can derail a consistent message. So take a while to work on your behaviour, and consider how you are going to impact your audience.
Who do I know who always makes an impact?
It’s not about imitating others, but rather closely monitoring their behaviour and considering what specifically about them attracts the enthusiasm and support of others. We all know someone who somehow commands attention just by entering a room, and they can teach you a lot about how to do the same. It’s not so much what they say, but how they say it. And don’t forget – you don’t need to become a carbon copy of another person, but rather identify their positive traits and work them organically into your own working style. This way, you can go on to prompt the same reactions in people, without it coming across as forced.
We each have a business voice inside us, and in many instances, it is not as deeply buried as we might fear. Often, it is as simple as adjusting our perspective a little, and considering the impact we make on others. Unlocking your business voice can transform your working life, the effect you have on others, and the way others think of you and your professional capacity – all you have to do is shift your comfort zone and build healthy new working habits.
About the Author | Simon de Cintra
Simon de Cintra has over 25 years experience in business and provides coaching and mentoring for people who are looking to gain confidence with their public speaking skills or want to learn how to lead
and influence others.In 2006 Simon founded MyFirstTrainers® and has delivered workshops at leading business schools and internationally for major blue chip companies. Simon specialises in personal impact, influencing and persuading stakeholders and public speaking skills for introverts working in complex and highly technical environments.
His varied career inspired him to seek the formula behind authentic communication revealed in his new book Unlock Your Business Voice – How to Speak As Well As You Think (£12.99, Rethink Press). On-sale February 2018 from Amazon at £12.99. To keep updated visit http://www.myfirsttrainers.com/author/simon/