We need to be exemplary communicators to succeed in business and life. Here are 4 vital tips to master the art and science of communication:
- Tailor Your Message to Your Audience
- Overcome Barriers to Understanding
- Develop Trust and Believability
- Choose the Right Medium
So, what do these 4 vital tips mean and how do you use them to improve your communication?
1. Tailor Your Message to Your Audience
Know your audience. People prefer to receive information and to learn in different ways. Some people are more:
- Visual, preferring to see information in pictures or graphics.
- Auditory, preferring to have a two-way dialogue.
- Kinesthetic, preferring to get their hands on and work physically with the information.
- Creative (right-brain dominant), being energized by working with abstract concepts that result in something new being formed.
- Analytic (left-brain dominant), being energized by getting into the nitty-gritty details and crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “i’s.”
2. Overcome Barriers to Understanding
A person’s perception is their reality—their truth—until new understanding happens. It is our responsibility as communicators to assure that people are understanding what we are attempting to communicate—that what we are saying is making it through their built-in filtering system and barriers.
The best way for us to create mutual understanding is through questions and answers, using the feedback loop, to assure that we are on the same page. The feedback loop will help reveal possible barriers that have to be overcome to achieve understanding and agreement, including:
- Words we use that may be misconstrued
- Prior knowledge and experience and context for the information being shared
- Pre-judgment or resistance due to misalignment with values
- Heightened emotions like fear and anger
- Distractions that are causing lack of attention
- Playing the game: I’m right, you’re wrong; I’ll fight you for control; I’m a victim, therefore, I’m not responsible. Chose to rise above falling into this trap.
3. Develop Trust and Believability
Wisely choose your words, tone and body language to develop trust and believability. Communication gets even more complicated when you factor in “trust and believability.” Research has shown that information that we choose to trust and believe is based on the following:
- 7% is from the actual words being used
- 38% is from the tone and confidence of the person sharing the information
- 55% is from the body language of the person sharing the information
That’s right, 55% of information a person chooses to trust and believe results from body language. What constitutes body language? Here are a few examples:
- Active listening/paying attention vs. texting or working on computer
- Open and receptive body posture vs. crossed arms/legs, body turned away
- Eye contact vs. looking down or rolling eyes
- Poker faced vs. responding emotionally or defensively and with a frown, etc.
4. Choose the Right Medium
In this day and age, as communicators, we have many high-tech and low-tech choices for how to communicate. How do you choose what is the appropriate type of communication for the information you want to convey? This may help:
- Meetings are good for conveying important and emotionally sensitive information that requires engaging people in dialogue.
- Phone calls are good for having a two-way (or more) conversation that is not too emotionally sensitive.
- Memos and written reports are good for conveying status and/or important technical information, policies, or procedures.
- Letters are good for formal, legal or business communication.
- Handwritten cards or notes are good to add the personal, human touch—especially to show heartfelt appreciation.
- Emails are good to give quick information or receive quick answers while retaining a written record of a conversation.
- Text messages are good for very short and quick questions and answers that do not require a formal record of the conversation, and are not emotionally sensitive.
Hope these tips help you to master the art and science of communication.
Much success and fulfillment,