I am having challenges communicating with my team. Can you give me some advice on how to be a more effective communicator?
Perhaps you and your team can try exercises in listening. Listening is a major part of the communication process that is often overlooked. It is a natural part of life but once mastered it will transform your relationships. As a human, you can speak at a rate of over 100 words per minute but listen at double that rate. According Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts Association, “If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk."
Listening is a skill which should never be taken for granted. It allows people to avoid misunderstandings; encourages undivided attention and ensures effective responses to messages. However, this skill requires patience and devotion. It is not just about sound waves vibrating the eardrums and sending messages to the brain; it uses the entire body. It involves both verbal and non-verbal communication; and paying attention cues. Educator and author Peter Drucker stated that “the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said.”
It is very important to constantly improve your listening skills to become an effective communicator. Here are some techniques you can use to improve:
Focus attentively to the speaker by giving your undivided attention.
Turn off your mobile device or put it away to avoid further distracts
Face the speaker while he/she speaks
Maintain eye contact
Use gestures and nods to affirm your concentration
Pay attention to the emotions and body language of the speaker
Do not interrupt the speaker unnecessarily
Take notes if required
Acknowledge and confirm the messages by repeating key points
Once you "learn to listen and listen to learn," the communication process becomes easier. Hence, there is an obvious reason why you were given two ears and one mouth. This is to ensure that you listen twice as hard as you speak. Employing these techniques will help you to be a better listener and a very effective communicator.
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