The 2015 Gallup State of the American Manager Report provides an in-depth look at what characterizes great managers and what guides employee engagement. Based on over four decades of extensive talent research, a study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries and analysis from measuring the engagement of 27 million employees, the report provides invaluable insights on how to get people motivated and engaged.
One of the key findings in the report centers on the importance of communication in building rapport and developing trusted relationships which is perfectly summed up in the quote, “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.”
The world as a whole seems to be facing some sort of verbal communication virus which is evident in the growing number of symptoms, such as:
- Listening to reply – In our fast-paced lives, we listen in haste not giving a conversation the respect it deserves. We pick up snippets of the conversation, make a response and often the response is not even quite appropriate. We walk away feeling like we’ve wasted our time or not knowing what the point of that conversation was and the other person walks away feeling like you really don’t care.
- Distraction is the name of the game – We are so plagued by distractions in the form of endless emails, social media and instant messaging, making it harder and harder to focus on a single conversation at a time. These distractions often make it impossible to grasp the actual point of a conversation to the extent that you will communicate a request for a piece of work and what is returned is something completely different!
- People love talking – In fact they love talking so much that they often struggle to get to the point. Even though more words are being shared, the message remains vague and, as a result the speaker feels misunderstood and frustrated.
If you’ve been experiencing these or other symptoms, and you’re ready to treat the verbal communication virus to converse like a pro, then all you need is to incorporate these 3 simple steps as a daily habit in all of your conversations, and you’ll be well on your way to being cured.
Step 1: Ask Questions
No question is stupid if it can help you in your understanding of the task. Always ask: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? And when you’ve asked, listen intently to the answers. And then ask follow up questions for deeper understanding. So remember to Ask, Listen and Ask some more – until you have the clarity that you need.
Step 2: Body Language
Your Body language should be pro-communication. This means that you need to show interest in the conversation. Playing with your phone, reading an email, yawning, slouching, looking away are frequent turn-offs in communication.
Simple actions such as good posture, eye contact, turning your chest towards the speaker, a bit of nodding, staying completely in the moment and focused on the conversation are simple tools which contribute to positive body language. This encourages open and honest communication as the non-verbal signs sent indicate you are attentive and listening.
Step 3: Take notes
Taking notes is an important, clever and simple way to keep engaged in a conversation. By taking notes as appropriate not only will you remember what was discussed, but you’ll understand more, and the other person will realize that you are genuinely interested.
Just remember, while this is not a miracle cure, if you apply these 3 simple steps, your verbal conversations are guaranteed to improve. And once you’ve mastered the 3 Simple Steps, you’ll be ready to enhance your skills even further with a more complex set of communication strategies.
About the Author:
Chartered Accountant (SA), certified brain-based coach, life-long learner and corporate veteran with 16 years+ field experience in a global ‘Big 4’ Audit firm, Usha Maharaj, is a woman on a mission to bring more happiness into your life through her motto “Reject Average. Strive for Excellence.” Usha uses her wealth of knowledge to help you take on any professional challenge.
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