This year I'm going to focus a lot on interpersonal skills that are needed to be successful as a Business Analyst, but that you can use in every day life on my blog. This month's skill I want to focus on is 'Communication'. I will give you a little taste on what I speak on concerning communication.
The reason I start with communication first is because, communication is key to achieving anything you want in this life. Communication can be one of the most difficult skills to develop and sharpen as well. Reason being is because everyone you come in contact with is different. They have a different perspective and those perspectives can be based on things they have experienced in life. You are dealing with difficult skill sets, strengths, areas of opportunities, etc...So how do you make this communication work? That is the million dollar question. Communication is not only hard with work relationships but it's hard with personal relationships as well. Based on my experience here are some key things I have learned about what makes communication work and what doesn't make it work. There is more to communication than what is below but here is a little taste. :-)
When Communication Works:
- When it's honest - honesty is still the best policy. When people believe you, trust you, hold your words credible they are just naturally drawn to listening to you and being around you. When you are trying to sell that new idea or influence change be honest with your communication. Whether the news is good or bad you will gain more respect from just being honest.
- When it's authentic - I have found that people are really yearning for "realness". There is so much negative in the world that people don't want to deal with fake. They want the truth and authentic communication. They want to not fee like the wool is being pulled over their eyes. The cliche "Keep It Real" is more true now than ever before. When having those conversations with business partners be extremely authentic. It goes a long way in your career and you will be known for being that authentic. I know this first hand and have received the feedback this is what makes me stand out.
- When it takes into account the audience - don't forget who you are communicating to or with when you are ready to communicate. Not everyone can take communication the same way. Some people can take direct communication and some cannot. It's important to know your audience. There are many ways to get to know your audience and we will talk about that later in the post.
- When it's continually refined - communication is something that can continually be strengthened. It's an art in my mind and can be fun as well as extremely frustrating. I have found to never thing you have it down because once you do someone will cross your path who will shake that up.
When Communication Does Not Work:
- When it comes off with ulterior motives - people are smart and can tell if you have ulterior motives. There is nothing that turns me off more. This goes back to being authentic and honest. Just be authentic and honest upfront and save yourself the pain.
- When it is not clear - communication works best when it's clear. It eliminates confusion. Sometimes it's hard to be clear and when not clear just apologizing helps. No one is perfect and sometimes we don't say what we mean, but we can at least apologize and correct the situation. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride or take a nice slice of humble pie and make it right.
- When it comes off intimidating/confrontational - the minute the communication comes of intimidating you have lost the other person because the other person is immediately on the defensive. They are thinking ahead of their next response to what you are going to say opposed to actually listening to what you are saying. You can tell by body language, tone and response on if the person is on the defensive. Once you recognize that you may want to change your communication style before the conversation escalates into something it shouldn't.
How can you strengthen your communication skills:
- Training - There are a lot of communication training courses out there you can take advantage off. One great course to take is Crucial Conversations. Communication is hard and sometimes you need to have very difficult conversations. Knowing how to have these conversations is powerful and can help alleviate a lot of unnecessary pain.
- Networking - this a great way to get to know your audience. The more you do a skill the better you will get at it. The more you talk to different types of people the more comfortable you will feel in certain situations. As you network you will see where your communication can use some sharpening. Ask yourself, "Am I being authentic, honest, communicating clearly?" First impressions only happen once so make yours count.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone - sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and take a risk. Stretch yourself. Maybe networking is not your thing, so branch out and go to an event to network. Even take a friend with you until you get comfortable. Maybe when presented with an opportunity to speak or do a presentation take that step to try it and see how you do. The first step is trying. You'll never know what you can do unless you try.
- Request Feedback - remember feedback is a gift freely given. Take the feedback and learn from it. There is a difference between an opinion and feedback so ensure you are taking the feedback and determining what you can do better.
And for those who may read this and say, "this is nothing new or this is common sense". If it is, then why do we still have the issues we do with communication. Typically a lot of people think they do interpersonal skills well and don't need any help in strengthening them, when in truth, the same ones who think they do it well, others think they do not. Do some self-introspection and be really honest with yourself. Could your communication use some strengthening? I will be the first to admit this is an area I focus on and continually strengthen because this is a complicated skill, but a skill that is key to my success. How about you?
Have a great month and talk to you in February!
If you want more from Paula on communication feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also she is constantly adding new presentations and workshops to her website so continue to look at her website: www.paulaabell.com.