How to become a better communicator

Many of us express on our CVs that we are ‘excellent communicators’ – it’s an easy ‘throw away’ statement that won’t necessarily be questioned if we can (at the very least) hold a conversation at interview stage… but what does it really mean?

Of course being able to have a conversation is part of it, but in reality it is much more, so here we consider some key things to keep front of mind if you want to up your game.

Listen

Yes, you read that right – listen. Taking the time to listen and properly digest what is being said to you will aid you in the next steps of being a good communicator. After all, if you don’t know or fully understand what is being discussed, how can you respond with anything valuable? Simply filling silences does not a good communicator make! (Hint: the best communicators are often those who say the least so that when they do speak, people stop and listen).

Timing is everything

To avoid gaining a reputation as the office chatterbox, consider the timing of delivering your messages. If you’re aware that your colleague/boss/client is working to a strict deadline, it’s probably not the right time to give them your thoughts on why you should get a pay rise this year or why you need extra budget for recruitment in the next quarter. Although these things are important, you’re more likely to receive a positive response if you carefully ask yourself ‘is now the right time?’

Be concise

So, you’ve listened carefully (see above..) and selected the proper moment (likewise)… but to really make an impact – whether you’re speaking to one person or a thousand – be as succinct and concise as can be, and definitely remind yourself that ‘less is more’. Thinking through what you want to say beforehand will help, even for less formal contact.

You don’t need to comment on everything that’s being said, all of the time. There’s nothing worse than leaving a meeting with a feeling of regret at not having delivered certain messages.

Be aware of your body language etc

We’ve all heard the stat about over 90% of communication being non-verbal – well, it’s certainly true that people notice lots of things aside from the words we choose to say. This includes, of course, your body language. This is a major factor – if you don’t look confident in what you are saying (which is less likely if you follow the three previous steps, by the way…), how will anyone else trust your message?

Also consider your tone, your style of language and even what you are wearing as things that can enhance (or undermine) what you’re aiming to communicate.

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