A lack of communication can increase stress and reduce efficiency and productivity. We can become frustrated that people are not understanding us or that conversations are not evolving the way they should. This makes all involved unproductive and this breakdown in communication may be hindering growth in your business. The steps below are crucial to reduce stress and to increase productivity.
I was recently a participant in a group coaching call and there was another participant in the group who was trying to communicate their issues, concerns and objections regarding a process. I found it difficult to understand what the person was trying to communicate, as was the coach. I applaud the coach in the situation as they were trying to qualify what the person was saying, to ascertain what the issue was, however, it, was sometime before the issue was eventually understood.
1. Take the word 'like' out of your dialogue
Part of the problem was that the person was not clear on what they were communicating and a major reason for this was how much they were using the word, "like,". The word "like" was peppered throughout their dialogue and it made it difficult to understand what they were trying to communicate. Trying to clarify what the person was communicating wasted their time, the coach’s time and everyone involved in the session.
It doesn't hurt to stop and take a moment to think about what you're trying to say. Even if you say, "How do I put this into words for you?". If you’re someone that constantly puts, "like" into your communication, try and stop it.
Your audiences’ brain is trying to edit out that word to make sense of what you're saying. It's similar to having a conversation with someone where the audio is dropping out or words are left out of a sentence and you're trying to establish what is being communicated. My advice to you is, try and break that habit. Slow down your speech and be more conscious of what you are saying.
2. Pause more often
Another tip that I've found really powerful in communicating with people is eliminating the word, "um," from our speech. It's a habit that we all have. My advice to you is, when you want to say the word "um" stop and pause because a pause is incredibly powerful.
A pause allows not only your brain to recollect and re-evaluate what you need to say. It also gives your audience an opportunity to absorb what you've said and allow it to sink in, rather than a constant conveyor belt of information that is rolling off your tongue.
Don't be afraid to pause. Use the moment when you want to say "um," to be the moment that you pause. It can be like that comma that you have in your sentence before you allow the next thought to carry on.
To the same degree, don't be afraid of silence in a conversation or in your communication. Just allow the silence to happen, don't feel like you have to fill. If you allow the silence to happen, it also says to your audience that you're listening to what they're saying. You're taking on board what it is they are communicating to you.
3. Listen and paraphrase
Listening is also an incredible part of communication. When somebody is communicating something with you, it really helps to paraphrase what the person has just said. In doing that, you are letting the other person know that you've heard them, and they know that you understand.
This can be really powerful in negotiations, performance management and important conversations. It’s also useful when people have got an objection or a complaint that they're communicating with you. Sometimes they simply want to be heard and understood.
4. Focus on the problems you solve. Not your job title
The elevator pitch is important in communication, to clearly communicate what it is that you do with potential clients or customers. The best advice I ever received was, “don't get hung up on your job title”. For example, you are at a networking event, and somebody says to you, "What do you do?" I could say, "I deliver professional development training and one-on-one coaching in time management and stress management." It's a very descriptive account of my job. You could say, "I'm a teacher. I'm a fitness instructor. I'm an accountant," and people will make judgements based on this job title, "Oh yes. I know what you do. I know other accountants. I know other coaches. I know other fitness instructors." Instead, imagine if I said "I assist people to become less overwhelmed and to be more productive. I assist them to manage their time and eliminate stress." You may then receive the best question you can in a networking situation which is: "Wow, that's really interesting. How do you do that?". You can then share with them your process.
Every one of us has a niche and a speciality in what we do, there is something unique we provide to our customers, to our clients, that is different to others. Focus on that, focus on the problem and the solution you find for clients or customers and share that in terms of what you do, not your job title. It's tricky, challenging and it is breaking a habit but try because it will improve your efficiency in communication.
5. Small shifts in language can have great outcomes
One small shift if the way you answer the phone can have a significant change in customer service. Most people will answer the phone like this ‘Cooper, Bradley & Dunn, Barbara speaking’.
People remember the last word you say. So ideally, in our first response on the phone call, the last thing we want people to hear is our name, not the business or the word ‘speaking’. If I answered the phone and said, "Hi, you've called Cooper, Bradley & Dunn, this is Barbara," you're going to remember it was Barbara that you spoke to.
They may reach a hundred people on the end of that call and we want them to remember the person who answered. This ensures they know who to ask for, to pick up where they left, or, if complications arise in the process it reduces
One last thing that you can do is change the subtle words and languages that you use. Sometimes we're not aware of our language habits and that we may be using language that comes across as aggressive or passive rather than assertive. Small shifts in our language can create a significantly different outcome.
I hope I've given you some ideas of subtle differences you can make in your communication that will have a great impact, stop the time wasting whilst communicating and reduce the stress that you experience in that breakdown of communication.
- take the word 'Like' out of your language,
- pause instead of saying 'Um',
- listen and paraphrase,
- break your language habits,
- fill the silence with your voice,
- tell people your job title – instead, tell them problems you solve,
- ignore your habit of aggressive or passive language
If you would like to become more impressive, a stronger negotiator and to assert yourself more, I can provide you with some refreshing new strategies.
You can book a time to chat. My goal is not to sell but to always give value. Promise.
About the Author:
Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia. She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing. She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things. She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia. Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford.