Quick—who is the most effective communicator you know? Why did you think of that person? I am guessing that this person provides a consistently positive experience when they communicate with you. Let’s think about the experience you provide when someone comes into contact with you. It doesn’t matter if they work in the next cubicle, if they know you socially, or if you are meeting someone for the first time. With a few simple guidelines, you can make each contact a positive experience.
Pick the right time. When do you initiate the communication? If you are waiting on people, sooner is better. Acknowledge or greet people who show up in your place of business, even if you can’t help them immediately. Otherwise, find times that are amenable to others; be it your boss, a potential client, a family member. Ask if this is a good time before launching into a discussion they might not be ready for.
Pick the right venue. Recently I traded four or five text messages with someone before deciding we could get more done on the phone. Today I received a much-appreciated phone call rather than an email with a request. Other times e-mail is actually the best way to convey information. Instead of automatically choosing the format that you prefer or feel most comfortable with, start thinking about which one is most appropriate or most appreciated by the receiver.
Be courteous. Please and thank you never go out of style. Say “you’re welcome” rather than “no problem.” Look people in the eye. Take time to greet everyone you come in contact with. Be kind to your server (and leave a generous tip if you can afford it.) Don’t slam down the phone after leaving a message or having a conversation.
Give your full attention. Whether you are discussing world events, a major initiative for your team, or plans for the weekend, respect people enough to be attentive to them. This means no checking your email while talking on the phone, no folding laundry or making dinner while the kids tell you about their day, or no talking while driving. I know, I know, we all do it. Let’s do better.
Be positive. It is easy to gripe about the weather, the boss, or what is on the news. Can you spin it around and look for the positive? Plenty of studies are now suggesting that gratitude is linked with higher levels of happiness, and we know we like to be around happier people. Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t. Find something nice to say. Be the bright spot in a gloomy day. You can’t control the weather or what’s on the news, but you have a choice in how you show up.
It is not rocket science. It just takes awareness and making better choices. Follow these five guidelines and you may well be one of the best communicators your friends and colleagues know.
I would love to hear from you. How do you show up as a positive communicator?
Author Gail Zack Anderson, founder of Applause, Inc. is a Twin Cities-based consultant who provides coaching and workshops for effective presentations, facilitation skills for trainers and subject matter experts, and positive communication skills for everyone. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web site: www.applauseinc.net