Are you communicating to win? Are you promotable? Promotion is all about demonstrating your capability and being ready when opportunity strikes. Strong communication skills alone won’t get you the job, but a track record of poor communication can definitely handicap you in the running.
Take a hard look at your track record. How well do you communicate? Where do you need to improve? Consider the following:
6 Keys – Communicating to Win
- Do you listen before you talk? Listening is a huge, under-appreciated strategy. Whether you’re engaged with a client, or angry customer, an employee, peer or supervisor, listen first. Give them your full attention and let them share the situation from their perspective. Ask questions and seek clarification. Don’t jump ahead with your agenda, analysis or solutions before you fully understand the issue.
- Do you connect before you communicate? Don’t bypass the polite formalities. A generic question like, “Did you get a lot of snow in your area?” sets a “person-to-person” tone, rather than a potentially confrontational one. For someone you know, asking about their child’s soccer game or ballet recital, or inquiring about their dog’s health can be even more effective in establishing a positive connection. Don’t launch into an extended personal discussion, but take a minute to connect before addressing business.
- Is your non-verbal communication on target? Communication is more than the words you use. Everything about you communicates a message to others. Be aware of your posture, gestures, and actions.
- Do you communicate effectively in a team? Business is a team sport. Whether your are the most senior or most junior person in a team, a key player or tangential to the project, you need to be able to share your contributions and concerns, and respect and consider the contributions of others. An effective team communicator neither monopolizes the discussion nor ignores it.
- Are you comfortable speaking to a group? Promotion means increased visibility. You may be expected to present findings to a large audience, or conduct training classes, or speak to outside groups as a representative of your organization. Start now to develop public speaking communication skills. You may not need them immediately, but they can be a significant boost to your career.
- Do you write well? Are you able to compose a formal letter, note or email that is concise, grammatically correct and effective? Can you write a professional report or paper? Don’t assume you can rely on an administrative assistant to craft your correspondence. If you lack this skill, don’t expect them to be able to compensate for you. Be able to do it yourself, and if you do have a skilled assistant, be able to effectively proofread and edit their work. Your reputation depends on it.
Communication is the glue that holds organizations together. Poor communication can cause mistakes, rework and sometimes catastrophic consequences. Hone your skills, be ready for promotion and practice communicating to win.