What exactly is communication? How should it be defined? Simply put, it is the "successful sharing of ideas or feelings." The key word here is: SUCCESSFUL.
Many entrepreneurs assume they are effective communicators; but being a strong, decisive and authoritative leader, while important, has nothing to do with effective communication.
In fact, people with these characteristics are often the worst communicators.
How can you recognise if you are a bad communicator? Look for these seven signs:
- Are you constantly talking and thinking at the same time; also known as thinking out loud? Attempting to come to conclusions while talking them through is poor communication. It is confusing and leaves employees feeling unsure of how to move forward.
- Know that eloquence does not equal clarity. Being a pontificator with visions of grandeur and a vocabulary to match may be highly regarded in oratory but in business, cut and dry is the preferred method. Say what you mean, or what you are saying may lose all meaning!
- Do you offer solutions to non-existent problems? Often you just need to listen. There may not always be cause for offering advice; learn to recognise the difference.
- Do you find yourself encouraging debates for the sake of the argument rather than the sake of productivity? A good debate can be a great way to brainstorm and highlight alternative strategies. Fighting just to fight? It is wearisome and weak - don't do it and don't encourage it.
- Do you fail to display compassion or empathy? When the situation calls for it, empathy demonstrates you were actively listening - enough to feel for the situation, regardless of your opinions on it.
- Do you have an answer for everything? An omniscient leader is a fallacy - the best leaders are those who implore their team to contribute, truly listen, and act based on what they heard. You don't have all the answers - admit it!
- Are you multi-tasking while listening? There is one thing you should not attempt to do while checking emails, glancing at your phone or eating your lunch and it is listening. To communicate effectively, put it down for a minute. All of it.
Communication is not inherent. We can all learn to be better communicators with practice. Recognise any of the above signs? Simply work towards improvement and be conscious of the efforts, you will get there!