First published on The Coaching Room blog.
When I first came across Communication Skills (NLP/Emotional Intelligence) over 20 years ago, I realised rather quickly that this has been a big part of my education I had been missing. The ability to understand not only that we all live ‘in our own model of the world’ but also by learning how to have effective communication will dramatically alter the results.
This pushes us back into thinking about ‘Effective Communication’ as a concept.
If you Google ‘What is Communication’ you will see a result saying it is: “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium.”
Consider for a moment how much time you spend communicating via these means:
Social media posting/commenting in text
Social media posting images/video
Online face-to-face (Skype/Hangouts)
And then consider how much is done:
…in the real world
And sure, all of the modes of communication exist ‘within the real world’, but for the sake of differentiation we can consider them to be a relatively new mode of communication.
Just think back to 100 years ago and consider what would have taken up the most % of what would be considered communication.
In fact, it wasn’t until the 1950’s that moved communication from newspapers to television as the ‘one to many’ mode, and then the 2000s that saw the next wave of television moving online – through social media, and video centric sites like YouTube.
Now our digital minds are increasingly entwined with cyberspace, and as such our communication skills are integral to our ability to live happy, healthy lives. Poor communication skills in a modern world can force us into a new form of passive consumption instead of the ability to connect and engage with the people on the topics to which we relate.
Connect, engage and relate – these are three powerful driver concepts online, and ones that have/are direct reflections in the real world. Our friends are the people who share our interests, our sense of humour, and sometimes our proximity alone.
If communication is changing due to technology, then what does this look like?
Here is a list of considerations:
- Conversations are less one-to-one, and more one to many
- You don’t know who is paying attention – you may be able to track if someone opens and email, but do you know if they read it?
- The ability to ‘read people’s responses’ becomes more digital – did they ‘click’, did they ‘like’, did they ‘share’. As such, a new form of acuity and judgement as to the meaning of these actions if needed.
- Emails are still seen as a private, direct route to gain people’s attention.
- But video is on the rise.
- Personalization just by ‘using someone’s name’ is not the antidote to mass emails – tailoring messages at a more sophisticated level is needed.
- Online is fast, but you can just as quickly f*ck it up as you can succeed.
- Technology is changing, and communities of people (which can become your hives for viral content) are not static.
HERE ARE THE TIPS TO MORE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:
1. Know the outcome you are seeking to achieve from the ‘communication’ you are going to make. Think: is the approach you are going to take the best way to achieve the outcome? If not, what would be better?
2. Look at relationships ‘over’ outcomes. This is a long game and people are the ones who can help you get where you want to go.
Effective written communication
3. You have time to craft your messaging when it is in written form. In other words, don’t rush to send something until you do an internal check that you are ‘ok’ with it. Don’t send messages in haste, in anger, that you could regret 2 minutes later.
4. Would giving an image, or an annotated screenshot image the message you are seeking to convey? I use take about 30 screenshot a day using a super program called Snagit.
5. Learn these basic patterns, and use them sparingly:
“Even more” – this means people already have something, so doesn’t put them down
“Have you ever…?”
Asking a question in an email, which will encourage a response
6. Consider using I/You/We in a way to get you better results – I language is personal, ‘we’ language can bring you into a situation, and ‘you’ language is direct to them.
7. Look to not use any I/We language if you are seeking for a person to cut and paste a list of instructions to someone else. It will save them editing it.
8. Audio is one of the most obvious areas that people fall down on. Buy an inexpensive mic like a ‘Snowball’ from Blue that can plug into your USB on your computer.
You will be shocked at what could happen if you do this, and what could happen if you don’t and the quality is poor.
9. Look to switch off your camera and just have audio if the picture quality is poor – there isno point having a blurry version of ‘you’.
10. Look to have one person ‘drive the show’ if the call has more than two people in it, and is of a ‘meeting’ in nature.
11. Start to use Voice Dictation on your phone in particular. It is getting better all the time and can truly transform the way you communicate – the way you structure sentences when you speak can help you come across even more naturally.
12. Look to move team based conversations from email into a platform like Slack. It will transform the level of transparency you have within your team and make your inbox much less cluttered.
13. Get yourself ‘into the Cloud’ using a platform like Google Drive to store your thoughts and writings – collaboration is so much easier now, and you are missing out if you don’t use it.
14. Assume everything your send online is public, even when it is private. The world has changed and ‘getting’ this perspective will prevent a lot of issues.
15. Run scenarios and think what language could ‘get you’ the best response. Put yourself into the position (in your mind) of the person receiving and reading the email, before you send it. Talk to yourself outloud if it helps. (I mutter, and practice speeches and comedy all the time…)
Effective communication won’t happen overnight but is a learnable skillset.
The main thing I want you to take away from this is…practice, notice, and adjust how you approach things in future – maybe even a point will come where you can simply ‘be in the moment’ and see what happens.