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How to have effective communication in business
Effective communication is crucial to business success, but how do you do it? I was in a cafe in Argentina with my daughter earlier this year and on the front of the menu was a list of ‘the golden rules of conversation’. It got me thinking… Are we losing the art of great conversation? Do many people communicate more by text than in person? Does anyone pick up the phone for a chat anymore? I love a great conversation – I love words. But in a business or work context, we need to make sure the conversations we have are adding value and moving the game forward.
This is my advice on how to improve communication at work – simply by following the 11 golden rules for conversation:
1. Listen with intention
If you want to be a more effective communicator, follow the advice of Stephen Covey, author of the best-seller 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peo to understand what the someone is telling you, not just to reply. This will actually shorten the conversation because you’ll only respond with what’s relevant.
2. Put away ALL devices
Studies are proving the mere presence of a cell phone or smartphone can lessen the quality of an in-person conversation and people are proving that the concept of multitasking is a myth. So stop checking emails or Googling facts during a conversation. Focus, instead.
3. Don’t dominate (it’s a team sport)
A conversation needs balance. If one person talks the entire time, it can get boring. Are you the rambler? Or perhaps you’re the one that freezes up? Here’s a tip – once you make a conversation point, take a pause and allow the other person to either agree or state their opinion. Give and take.
4. Speak of things that are interesting and be interested
By showing someone you are genuinely interested in what they’re saying, they will naturally be more interested in you. You will always find something interesting in what someone else does. Follow it through; ask questions. This will lead to a stronger connection.
5. Acknowledge with your facial muscles
You don’t always need to respond with words – sometimes that breaks the flow of the conversation. Facial expressions act as small signs when communicating with someone. A smile can mean approval, and reassurance. A look of concern can translate into sympathy and understanding. Exercise those facial muscles!
6. Don’t change the topic every sentence…dance in the conversation
A quality conversation will consist of at least one captivating story. Storytelling captivates the person you’re talking to and holds their attention, thus keeping the conversation flowing. Avoid making short generic statements that unintentionally put up stop signs.
7. Ask about the other person instead of focusing on yourself
Diana Tamir, Harvard neuroscientist claims, “Self-disclosure is extra rewarding”. When you ask someone to talk about themselves they get a sense of importance and pride in themselves and in turn, link these positive feelings to you.
8. Don’t ask a question to ‘get it over and don’t with’
There are a lot of standard conversation questions that come off as scripted or insincere. Try and avoid these unless you are legitimately interested. Instead, ask meatier questions that don’t have automatic (just as equally insincere) responses and mean it.
9. There is no ‘right’ in conversation – respect others’ opinions
There will always be people who disagree with you or hold a different perspective to you on certain topics – and that’s okay. You can voice your opinion, but also listen to theirs. Respect is an important factor in cultivating nourished connections and relationships with others.
10. Be authentic
One of the main aims of conversation is to get to know another person, their opinions and personality. To converse naturally shows who we are to one another. Why be anything but you? Be honest, be genuine, be yourself. In turn, they’ll like you for you who are.
11. Use positive words (don’t fall into gossip)
People are naturally drawn to those who exude positive energy. The benefit of being positive comes two-fold – you enrich the life of the one you’re speaking to, as well as attracting others who are good-natured and genuine. Gossip only encourages negative thought processes and is linked to loss of sleep and added unnecessary stress. Project positivity for the most effective communication.