Managing a successful business is a formidable, yet extremely rewarding task. It requires dedication, planning, technical expertise, adequate resources and strong determination. It also requires excellent communication skills. Here are 5 tips that will improve your ability to communicate with a diverse array of people.
1. Demonstrate empathy in all of your interactions. Empathy is the ability to relate to, and understand another person’s feelings, situation, ideas, values, and desires. There are many ways to demonstrate empathy, but the best way is to listen first (i.e., listen to the other person before you try to get your message across), try to understand where your speaking partner is coming from, and communicate your understanding. From a business perspective, the consistent use of empathy is a very effective way to improve customer service.
2. Use active listening to confirm your understanding. Active listening consists of your attempt to paraphrase what has been stated by your communication partner. This serves two important purposes. First, it allows you to clarify the speaker’s statement. Second, it lets your partner know you understand what he/she has said. To listen actively, restate what the speaker has said using phrases such as, “Sounds like you feel _____” or “What I hear you saying is_____“.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of both the affect and content of a message. When using active listening, make sure you summarize both the emotional and subject matter elements of your partner’s message. For example, you might say, “It sounds like you are unhappy with the support you received during your product orientation.”
4. Summarize your conversations. Similar to active listening, summarization is also designed to condense your communication partner’s thoughts, feelings, experiences and behaviors into a few sentences. The main difference is that summarization is typically done once, near the end of the interaction, to sum-up the conversation. For instance, you might say, “We have been talking about two main issues and it sounds like we agree about what should happen next.“
5. Use self-disclosure to develop a deeper understanding. Self-disclosure is an excellent tool for demonstrating empathy. It is the act of sharing information about yourself as a way to demonstrate your ability to relate to your communication partner. For example, if you have a frustrated customer, you can discuss how you have been in similar situations and this has motivated you to do everything in your power to resolve this problem to the customer’s satisfaction.