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10 Tips to Better Communication

Communication is key in the workplace. Whether you are going into the office every day or working from home, you need to be able to communicate effectively with others - your colleagues, your boss, your customers, your vendors. Communication can make or break a conversation so it is important to understand your communication style and the communication styles of those you work with on a daily basis. Take a look at these 10 tips to better communicate.

1) Seek first to understand, then be understood We naturally want to get our point across and in the process, we ignore the other person or pretend to hear what they are saying. In doing this, we can miss key important words or phrases that are being said to us. When you ask a question, listen to their response. They want to be heard and understood just as much as you do! 2) Don't just listen, observe Did you know that communication is only 7% of the words that are spoken?! 55% of communication is body language and the other 38% is our tone. Take a look at their body language. Do they have folded arms or lack of eye contact - they may not be interested or even listening to what you are saying. Do they have a relaxed or trustworthy body language - they are open to you and what you are saying. As you observe others and their body language, be sure to look at your own body language as well. Try to be open and communicative with others. Make them feel comfortable talking to you or coming to you with a problem. It makes all the difference. 3) Check in along the way Be sure to check in as you go through the conversation. Repeat what you heard for accuracy and nod to show you are listening. So many times a conversation gets derailed because we thought we heard and understood something, when in fact we missed what the real point was. Some of the funniest episodes of a sitcom are when there is a miscommunication and one person acts on that miscommunication, only to ruin everything in that episode. Fresh Prince, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family, Friends, The Office - just to name a few. Funny on TV, not funny in real life! 4) Look out for the other person's needs Everyone's communications styles are different. And everyone has specific needs. DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) creates different categories for each communication style in an attempt to highlight the similarities and differences and uses science to determine which category you fall in to. Please reach out for more information about DISC and to take an assessment today. It is a great tool to use in the workplace to help you understand your communication style and the styles of those you work with. It is also a great tool to use at home with your kids or spouse too!

5) Don't let your mind wander Studies show that 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings! Try to keep your focus on the task you are working on. Also, do not formulate your response too soon. Way too often we ask a question and while the other person is answering that question, we are already formulating our response in our minds. Take time to listen to what the person has to say and try to keep your mind from wandering.

6) Keep an open mind Don't criticize or judge others too quickly. Often times people have a different view or opinion than us and that is OK! It is even beneficial when someone sees something in a different way - take the time to see it from their point of view and you may be surprised at what you learn.

7) Ask questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? These questions confirm you are listening and help both parties make sure the other is understood.

8) Always have a next step Did you know that 46% of people leave a business meeting without clearly understanding what they are supposed to do next! It is important to outline a next step, whether you are in a meeting with co-workers, a performance evaluation with your boss, or a sales pitch with your customer. Make sure you outline the next step - it keeps everyone on the same page and creates accountability.

9) Don't interrupt (or finish their statements) Why do people interrupt? A few possible answers: fear of forgetting what to say, desire to prove expertise, lack of self-awareness, need to fit in. Take the time to listen to the other person. Let them finish their thought and do not interrupt. People feel valued when you listen to their thoughts and ideas.

10) Stay positive Studies show that positive people live longer, make more money and are less stressed. Need we say more?! People are drawn to people who are positive.

The cost of poor communication is too high - increased employee turnover, increased absenteeism, poor customer service and lower employee productivity are all causes of poor communication. Take some time today to see how you can use these communication tips in your life. We know they will have a positive impact on you and those around you!

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