Effective Communication Tips for Today’s Manager

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Express your thoughts clearly:

To be effective in interpersonal communication, organize your thoughts. Think through what you plan to say before you say it. Choose the appropriate words that will best communicate these thoughts, and speak in the language of the listener. Strive for utmost clarity.

Be willing to express your feelings:

Those people who are able to express their feelings are more likely to be effective communicators than those who are not. This does not mean an irresponsible venting of emotions; rather, it means expression of feelings tempered with responsibility. If you are unable or unwilling to express your feelings, others may view you as bland. Your people want to know where you are coming from. Tell them! Move beyond merely exchanging data and information. Enrich your communication with a clear expression of your feelings about the issues at hand.

Put yourself in the place of the other person:

The effective communicator has empathy: the capacity to participate in another’s thoughts or feelings. Empathy is the ability to see the world through the other person’s eyes. It is an attitude, a frame of mind, which has a profound effect on the quality of the communication. Empathy is what helps set up the exchange as a living mutual relation.

Be “truly present” When engaging in interpersonal communication, many managers appear to be preoccupied with other thoughts. Their body language conveys the impression that their thoughts are paying attention on something other than the matter at hand. Don’t be guilty of this type of behavior. Whenever talking with another person, give that person your undivided attention. Even if you have only 10 minutes to give, give the person 10 minutes of your undivided attention.

Be a good listener:

It has been estimated that no more than about 10 percent of the general population might be considered really good listeners. That means that about 90 percent of us have room for improvement. It will be to your credit if you develop a reputation for being a good listener. Be an active listener and listen with understanding. Ask good questions. Paraphrase the key points that the other person has made. Check your perception of the person’s feelings. Link the elements. Achieve unity. These are things that you can learn to do. Great effort is required, but making the effort will surely enhance your effectiveness in interpersonal communication.

Postpone evaluation:

Whenever a new idea is being presented for consideration, many managers are too quick on the draw in evaluating the idea. Before they have really understood the idea, they judge it to be either good or bad. Such behavior tends to inhibit communication and may cause the manager to miss out on some promising ideas. Whenever a new idea is being presented to you, discipline yourself to postpone evaluation until after you have demonstrated that you fully understand the idea.

Avoid becoming hostile when another person’s views differ from your own:

Employees learn a great deal about their manager on the basis of how the manager responds to opposing views. (And body language speaks louder than words.) If the manager appears threatened or distressed whenever an employee offers an opposing view, the employees in all likelihood will be reluctant to challenge the manager in the future. As a consequence, the manager’s ideas may go untested, and some potentially good ideas may never be considered. Avoid becoming hostile to opposing views. Try to understand the other person’s views: what they mean, how they came about, and why the person supports these particular views. Then, when appropriate, try to incorporate these views into your own thinking, while at the same time giving due credit to the person who generated the ideas.

Be willing to change your convictions as new truths are uncovered:

Too many people believe that they have a “lock” on truth. There is only one way to the top of the mountain, and that is their way. Their own views are obviously correct, which means that any opposing views are obviously incorrect. One of the greatest challenges for you as a manager is to keep an open mind. This does not mean a wishy-washy approach in which you agree with every opposing view, but it does mean that you will hear others out and try to understand their views, even when the views are contrary to your own. Perhaps it will turn out to be a significant learning experience; you may glean some insights that will help you strengthen your own views.

Be willing to confront:

Conflict is an integral part of life. If we are encouraging people to be authentic in expressing their thoughts and feelings, conflict is inevitable; if we are calling for people to be creative in expressing their own views, conflict is inevitable; and if we are requiring people to work in complex and ever-changing organizations that have competing demands, conflict is inevitable. Conflict is not something to be avoided; rather, it is something to be guided and channeled for productive ends. Whenever your views differ from those of others, be willing to confront. This is essential for authentic dialogue.

Think win-win:

When confronting others, there are those who think only in terms of win lose. There obviously will be a winner and a loser. This is a basic attitude that has been ingrained over the years. Don’t get trapped in the win-lose mentality. Transcend it! Focus on ends rather than means. Ask yourself: In this particular confrontation, what might be done to assure that both my adversary and I achieve our objectives? How can we both emerge as winners?

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