May EFAP News: Keeping up with Your Connections
Are You an Effective Communicator and an Active Listener?
We are busier today than ever. Technology keeps us updated and accessible 24/7; however, all of our high tech resources have created several communication challenged individuals.
Communication is a two part process consisting of someone effectively relaying their message and someone else actively listening to receive the message. In order to successfully send and receive a message, both segments need to be operational. Let’s break communication basics down into five categories: interpersonal skills, problem solving/leadership, public speaking, written communication, and active listening.
A recent study by Career Builder identified that companies reported 52% of recent college graduates, hence new employees, lack interpersonal skills. Graduates struggled with conversations, making eye contact, listening, and even basic business appropriate dress and personal hygiene. Companies shared that during interviews many graduates couldn’t execute a firm handshake or properly introduce themselves. Be aware of your body language and facial expressions, and practice interviewing and presentation skills until you feel comfortable with them.
Millennials have grown up with highly structured and scheduled lives. One down side of this is the lack of opportunities for problem solving and leadership. If situations are always defined for you, and groups always pinpointed, then it is difficult for leaders to emerge. Independent thinking and problem solving has been stifled in our present world where most problems are left to be solved by an internet search. Challenge yourself and others to brain storm and problem solve in a “low tech” way. Just use paper and pencil or the dry erase board. Offer opportunities for mixed groups to work together; you may see glimmers of the next great leader there.
Corporate leaders must be skilled in explaining concepts enthusiastically to others. If you can’t clearly communicate a concept, then you will never be able to “sell” it to others, and you may lose credibility as your audience could just interpret it as you don’t even understand the idea yourself.
The Career Builder study also identified that 41% of recent college graduates lacked public speaking skills. Some are born with this talent, but the majority of us must work at it. Preparation, practice, repeat. Not only does this apply to public speaking, but simple professional tasks such as answering the phone or introducing yourself. For the most part we live in a very casual society; however, polished, precise responses in public, within interviews, or on the phone can make or break the deal.
Instant everything has taught us to shorten words and ignore grammar. Professionally, you need to ensure your message matches the media. Reports, emails, and business documents should all contain proper grammar, correct spelling, and appropriate capitalization. Write it, read it, proof it, spell and grammar check it, then walk away. When you come back proof it again before you send it, and if you can run it by someone else for review, go for it. Informal style in normal business communications is not acceptable. If you are using social media for campaigns, then you have the opportunity to be less rigid; however, still following old school rules will help you look professional.
The best way to demonstrate active listening is to focus on the speaker and their content during the conversation/presentation, . Even asking questions aids in active listening. But if during a conversation, all you can think about is what you should say when you get the opportunity to pipe in, then you are internally focusing on your own thoughts and not the message of the sender. Practice active listening, remove all distractions, and completely focus on the speaker.
Most importantly whatever you are communicating about be sure to let your passion for the subject show. “Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”
– Jim Rohn
Communicating in Relationships: 5 Steps to the Best Fight Ever
Wouldn’t it be great if you could express yourself well in a fight and ask for what you really want and need? In this practical, research-inspired workshop you will learn how to transform your next conflict into a conversation that leaves both parties feeling heard and respected.
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