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Communication Skills

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Communication with others is more than just transfer of information. Communication means not only transfer of message, but transmission of understanding and ensuring that the receiver understands the same in the same sense and spirit which the sender intends to convey. For improving your communication quality you need to work on developing your communication skills.

Introduction to Communication Skills

Skills and Good for nothing communication skills are very closely related to each other. But they are not the opposites like black and white. Communication is probably the one skill which made us distinct amongst the animals. Along with our ability to think, it has brought progress in the world.

Since we are born with superb inbuilt tools for communication, we often think we are born with good communication skills too. While we do have tools for communicating ideas, we may not have the necessary skills to use it correctly.


Steps Leadings to Effective Communication Skills

The following steps leads to effective communication skills which are as follows:

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1. Put your main idea first, so that the audience gets to know exactly what you are talking about, gradually provide the supporting details so that the audience gets the complete picture. Remember, that the audience gets enough information to understand the issue. It is easy to talk on what is known but it may not be essential for the audience to know the entire detail For instance a topic like “stagnancy in the consumer goods market,” it is not mandatory to segregate the market into fast moving consumer goods, consumer durable and so on and so forth. The audience is interested in consumer goods and not other goods.

2. Concentrate on two to three points and extend these points. Most speakers try to squeeze in as many points as possible and then the obvious happens; the speaker goes haywire as all the points are jumbled up and the speaker goes repeating himself and thereby causes monotony.

3. It is best to use emphasis and subordination of ideas to guide the audience. It is advisable to use active voice and juxtapose with strong ideas by placing emphatic positions. Try to take space while speaking and for that one should use proper breaks.

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4. Language should be layman, so that the audience is immediately taken into confidence. Remember not to use such stuff that makes the audience uncomfortable. Most of the orators deviate from the point by using superfluous words or technical words which puts a yawn on the audience.

5. The last but not the least is using examples to drive home the points. The audience understands easily if the orator uses “with reference to the context”. It becomes easier if the orator makes the audience visualise what he is saying rather than to tell them. Remember the school days when by going through the photographs, it was easy to visualise how a tiger looks like. The world’s most successful magazine “Reader’s Digest” always uses stories as a background to explain a particular lesson or a topic.


Conditions for Successful Communication 

Basically, to communicate is to share “information”, in its widest sense, with others in an intelligible, participative form through the medium of words – spoken or written, or body gestures, or other symbolic signs. 

Two basic things stand out here. One, the message is to be both “known” and “understood” by others. Two, communication in its nature is a symbolic act, verbal or non-verbal. 

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These two aspects, the purpose and nature of communication, act as the two determining influences in the theory and practice of communication in all contexts of speaking or writing. 

Herein lies the crucial critical difference between effective and ineffective communication. If “something” is communicated and it is not fully understood by the receiver, the communication has been just ineffective. Not fully serving its other condition of being understood. The fact that the message has been understood is established by the response of the receiver – the feedback. 

Rule of Five 

Keith Davis lays down the Rule of Five to guide the receiver to be an effective element of the communication process. 

“In the communication process, the role of receiver is, I believe, as important as that of sender. There are five receiver steps in the process of communication — Receive, Understand, Accept, Use, and Give a Feedback. Without these steps, being followed by the receiver, no communication process would be complete and successful.” 

Communication is successful when: 

(i) The message is properly understood. 

(ii) The purpose of the sender is fulfilled. 

(iii) The sender and receiver of the message remain linked through feedback. 


Types of Communication Skills

Good communication is essential to succeed in business. The process is supported by various skills of communication such as oral presentations, memo writing, basic grammar, informal report writing and analytical report writing. 

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The skills required have been agreed upon by a hundred randomly selected executives from Fortune 500 companies. These findings also extend to the importance of external communication and technical applications. 

The various types of communicating skills are:

Visual Skills

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Studies of comprehension endorse the value of visual support. When participants only listened to the message, they remembered only 70% after 3 hours and only 10% after 3 days. Using only a visual message, recall was 72% after 3 hours and 35% after 3 days. 

These figures jumped dramatically, however, to 85% and 65% respectively, when both spoken and visual communication was used. Thus when spoken and visual stimuli are combined, enhanced learning occurs. 

The above results are due to the speed advantage of learning from pictures, as pictures evoke mental images. However, despite knowing the importance of the visual element of communication, it is often neglected. 

The distinction between forms of visual communication is extended to four basic intellectual skills: literacy, numeracy, articulacy and graphicacy. As we move into the 21st century, an additional literacy is emerging: technical literacy, which is the ability to appropriately use technological tools to convey visual messages.

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 In many ways technical literacy will determine one’s ability to communicate through the other four kinds of literacy. 

Written Skills

When Fortune magazine reporters talked to successful corporate executives about business training, executive after executive said in frustration, “Teach them to write better”. 

The plea was for fundamental writing with clarity, precision, brevity and force of logic. 79% of 218 executives in one study identified the ability to write as one of the most neglected business skills. One of the most surprising features of the information revolution is that the written word has regained importance. 

Educators in management studies have understood the importance of written communication and so examinations like the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), have also added a writing component. 

Spoken Skills

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Spoken communication which is vital for any executive, is very important and demands more training. A study of business and engineering graduates found that oral skills are more frequently used than written skills at the initial corporate levels. 

Employers lay a much heavier emphasis on oral communication than educators, who stress the importance of written communication and the theoretical aspects of communication. 

Equally important is listening. One problem is that we listen passively rather than actively. Active listeners become involved with the message, anticipate what is coming next, and listen between the lines for additional meaning. 

Studies show that lessons in childhood are carried over to the workplace. There are also differences in spoken communication in men and women, and there are various strategies for cross-gender oral communication. 

Academic experts, managers and MBA graduates agree on the essential nature of both written and spoken communication. Both, they feel, need to be addressed in an MBA-level business communication course. 

Reading Skills

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Business persons spend quite a lot of time reading. Some suggestions for improving reading skills are given below. 

  1. What does the title suggest regarding the reading? 
  2. Get the feel of the whole package. 
  3. Read carefully and consider highlighting. 
  4. Think about how the tables, graphs, etc., complement or supplement the text. 
  5. Is the information Appropriate, is the support Believable, and is the support Consistent and Complete? 

Effective Communication Skills include the Following Skills

Communication with others is more than just transfer of information. Communication means not only transfer of message, but transmission of understanding and ensuring that the receiver understands the same in the same sense and spirit which the sender intends to convey. Every communication involves two important components: content of the delivered message and emotional impact of the message on the receiver. 

Communication gap, provocation of reactions and misunderstandings occur when there is no bridge or connection between the content and emotional impact. To ensure whole communication that involves bridge between the content and emotional impact of the message, one needs to fine tune one’s communication message and the way of communicating.

 An individual needs to polish his or her communication skills to be more effective and to have a positive impact and influence upon others. 

Effective communication skills include the following skills: 

  1. Oral communication and Presentation skills 
  2. Listening skills 
  3. Writing skills 
  4. Body language skills 
  5. Handling telephone calls 
  6. Electronic communication skills 
  7. Emotional intelligence 
  8. Positive personal attitude 
  9. Business Etiquettes 
  10. Team players 
  11. Event management skills 
  12. Valuing cultural diversity 
  13. Negotiation and conflict resolution skills 
  14. Time and stress management 

1. Oral communication and presentation skills 

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Oral communication is an important part of communication. No individual or organisation can exist and function without oral communication. People usually judge others by the way they speak. From the quality of one’s voice and the manner of saying things, people deduce a great deal about one’s personality in general and feelings at the particular moment of time. 

Whether a person is feeling confident or shy, it is clearly judged from the way one speaks. Therefore one should master the oral communication skills. These oral communication skills are usually used in face to face communication with others, group communication, speeches and presentations, etc. 

Speeches and presentations are indispensable functions for every business executive. For a professional, eloquence of speech and ability to speak fluently using the right words in the right order are must. People judge others by the way they speak and present themselves. To cultivate speaking and presentation skills, an individual should:

  1. Plan the speech or presentation by developing a theme, analysing the audience and their level of understanding, searching the relevant facts and figures and selecting appropriate vocabulary and sentences that have greater impact and influence upon the audience members. 
  2. Deliver the message by attracting and retaining the attention of the audience, focusing on the relevant key points and presenting them in clear and precise language. 
  3. Use the visual, verbal and vocal aids in an effective way. 
  4. Close the speech or presentation in an effective way by summarising the main points, appealing for action, quoting a fitting verse of poetry, building up a climax, etc. 

2. Listening skills 

Listening skills is one of the most important communication skills that plays a dominant role in understanding customer needs, others’ opinions, and building team spirit. Listening is not a passive activity. In fact, listening is a dialogue, not a monologue where the speaker speaks and the listener merely listens. Listening requires the use of our eyes, mouth, brain, body and ears. 

We need our eyes to notice the expressions and body language of other persons, our mouth to acknowledge and clarify, our brain to assimilate the message, our body to indicate openness and understanding and our ears to hear the words and how they are spoken. In addition to activation of all these organs of the body, one should: 

  1. Free one’s mind from presumptions and preconceived ideas by being aware of them. 
  2. Avoid all external distractions if any like noise in the nearby place, attending somebody else, etc. 
  3. Put the talker at ease with a smiling face and sweet words. 
  4. Be patient and allow the talker sufficient time to clarify his or her point of view. 
  5. Suspend the judgement for the time being to avoid premature evaluation and judgement. 
  6. Silent the mind and being in the present as listening involves stoppage of both talks and thoughts. 

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3. Writing skills 

Writing skills affect a person’s effectiveness in influencing people, winning friends and gaining business. One may be highly intelligent and wise, but his or her inability to express intellect and wisdom takes away much of his or her credit as an intelligent and wise person. Errors committed while writing circulars, reports, agenda or memo considerably spoil the image of the writer. 

To make the written message effective, the writer should pay adequate attention to certain principles like unity, emphasis, completeness, conciseness, clarity, sequencing, accuracy, readability, etc. While writing any piece of information, the writer should: 

  1. Decide the purpose of the written message, person to whom it is written, the scope of the subject, and desired response expected from the reader. 
  2. Collect the relevant material from the library, internet and files. 
  3. Concentrate and gather mental strength and put the thoughts on the paper in a free and easy way. 
  4. Review and revise the written message to ensure that it is free from grammatical and spelling errors, clear, concise and understandable. Also ensure that the tone of the message is positive and formal. 

4. Body language skills 

Researchers have shown that the total impact of a message is about 7% verbal (words only), 38% is vocal and 55% is non-verbal i.e. communication without use of written or spoken words like body movements, voice patterns, time, touch, etc. 

Actions speak louder than words. When the audience does not understand the verbal contents of the message, they rely on the body language of the communicator. 

Therefore the body language of the communicator should be positive. Following are some the hints to attain body language skills: 

  1. Maintain eye contact with the audience as it conveys good impressions and build up the interest in them. 
  2. Vary the pitch of the voice that conveys the emotional contents of the message. 
  3. Keep the face smiling as it indicates a positive image and impression among the audience. 
  4. Be careful of the body language signals of various cultures and countries and apply them in practice. 

5. Handling telephone calls 

In the present business environment, most of the routine business is usually handled on telephones. The business executives and employees should have the ability to handle telephone calls in an effective manner. One should have the following skills to handle telephone calls: 

(a) Ability to develop a professional approach in handling telephone conversation like preparing oneself mentally and thinking about the objectives of conversation, sitting upright to avoid laziness, being polite and making a good impression and image upon others, being warm and friendly, and being assertive. 

(b) Listening on the telephone by remaining cool and calm, suspending the judgement of the time being, noting down the important contents of the conversation and summarising the conversation at the end. 

(c) Accepting responsibility for dealing with the call and carrying it through. 

(d) Ability to convey the message concisely and clearly. 

(e) Ability to handle the challenging calls by showing them empathy and ensuring the problem will be solved. 

6. Electronic communication skills 

With the phenomenal expansion of the internet, e-mail has become the most popular medium of communication. E-mail is becoming popular because of its cost effectiveness and the speed of transmission of the message. 

Now because of the present social shift to e-culture, e-mails are becoming more frequent than letters and other forms of written communication. Managers are required to handle various e-mails simultaneously and answer them precisely. 

Like written communication, there are some precautions and guidelines that writer of email should follow: 

  1. Keep the message concise, correct and clear. 
  2. Focus on a single theme as focusing on two or more themes reduces the impact of the message. Follow all the principles of good writing like you-attitude, positive emphasis, clarity of message, etc. to e-mail messages. 
  3. Use spell checks for spelling and ensure that the message is grammatically correct. 
  4. Keep the subject line short and convey the good news in the message line. 
  5. Use attachment files when additional files like files of powerpoint slides, spread sheet or long text documents, or text documents with extensive formatting are to be sent. 
  6. Reread and proofread the message before sending it. 

7. Emotional intelligence 

Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s ability to be self-aware of feelings, to manage emotions, to motivate oneself, to express empathy, and to handle relationships with others. Emotional intelligence helps an individual to work with other persons, win their confidence with decent behaviour and to overcome the negativity among oneself as well as among others. Therefore organisations are valuing this soft skill very high. 

Emotional intelligence is the foundation of all verbal and non-verbal communication as it helps a person to become effective communicator in following ways: 

  1. EI enables one to understand oneself in a better and effective way that helps oneself to understand one’s inner signals and consequently to recognize how their feelings one’s job performance. 
  2. EI enables oneself to overcome negative emotions with self-control. 
  3. EI enables a person to listen to others empathically by understanding their emotions and feelings. 
  4. EI empowers a person to handle conflict in a better way and understand the differing perspectives of conflicting parties and find a common ideal solution acceptable to everyone. 
  5. EI empowers to build healthy relations and to generate an atmosphere of friendly collegiality. 
  6. EI enables oneself to be a more transparent and open minded person. This ability enables one to win the confidence and trust of other persons. 

8. Positive personal attitude 

Positive personal attitude is an important communication skill that contributes towards one’s effectiveness. While dealing with others and communicating with them, one’s positive personal attitude dominates a lot. 

A man of positive attitude can convey the message clearly with transmission of understanding, listen to others’ point of view emphatically and objectively, perceive other people’s friendship and build the environment of openness and trust.

 On the other hand, a person possessing a negative attitude-characterised by hatred, jealousy, inferiority complex, illusion, etc.—finds problems in communication-conveying as well as listening. To have glimpse of the situation, consider the following situations where negative attitudes retard the communication process: 

  1. Because of the listener’s wrong perceptions and prejudices, the neutral words, attempting to communicate positive messages, convey negative and opposite message. 
  2. A person feeling shy and inferior, hesitates to convey the message to others. 
  3. Sometimes a person trying to hide his inferiority complex, becomes aggressive by speaking too loudly. 
  4. The feeling of rancor not only affects the other person with the exchange of ugly words, but also affects the possessor as it increases the rate of consumption of his energy. 
  5. The reactive attitude of the person leads to conflict because of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions. 
  6. Most of the people do not listen, but just wait to talk as they think their ideas are more important. 
  7. Unnecessary and unproductive references of past events provoke the negativity of others and result in conflicts instead of understanding. 
  8. Egotism and illusion lead to one dimensional communication that breeds negative emotions among the receivers of the message. 

Impact of Positive Attitude on Communication and Interpersonal Relations 

Positive personal attitude definitely affects the communication process in a better and effective way. 

Have you noticed these illustrative situations in your practical life: 

  1. A person with a positive attitude can develop a more silent and soothing mind which is likely to react least and can cool other people’s anger in a better way. With this, the process of communication becomes congenial. 
  2. A person with a positive attitude can listen to others’ point of view emphatically and objectively. 
  3. A person in reaction-free consciousness can listen to others in a better way and can understand intuitively. 
  4. A person with a cool mind is likely to have clear thoughts and consequently clear and concise messages. 
  5. A person with a positive attitude can write more clearly, speak more eloquently and convey through body-language in a more effective way. 
  6. A person with an established record of integrity and honesty is perceived to be trustworthy. Consequently his message is likely to be received in a respectful manner. 

Role of Attitude in Life 

What are the things that contribute a lot in one’s successful life? There are countless things like: Luck, Knowledge, Hard work and Attitude. These are English letter words, assign number 1 to letter a, 2 to letter b, and so on. You will find: 

  1. LUCK = 12 + 21 + 3 + 11 = 47 
  2. KNOWLEDGE = 11 + 14 + 15 + 23 + 12 + 5 + 4 + 7 + 5 = 96 
  3. HARD WORK = 8 + 1 + 18 + 4 + 23 + 15 + 18 + 11 = 98 
  4. ATTITUDE = 1 + 20 + 20 + 9 + 20 + 21 + 4 + 5 = 100 

The message of this number magic is that it is an attitude that can guarantee 100% success. If one has a positive attitude he is likely to work hard with effortless efforts without being tired, knowledge will automatically flow to him and luck will definitely favour him. Therefore development of a positive attitude is top most priority for any individual. 

9. Business etiquettes 

Etiquette is forms or manners established as acceptable or required by the society or profession. Business etiquette means the general way of behaviour and self-conduct by which one presents oneself. 

Business etiquettes help to minimize misunderstandings and focus on other people’s feelings and rights before one’s own rights. It was not just a key one may use when required or a dress to be donned on certain occasions. They are a permanent part of the personality of the person. 

Business etiquettes are an important and indispensable aspect of the personality of a person. For business people, business etiquette is important because, it: 

  1. Helps to welcome the other person with a warm, friendly and considerate attitude. 
  2. Overcomes the negative emotions and interpretations of other people. 
  3. Makes one sensitive to the needs, aspirations and rights of the other person. 
  4. Builds a better and conducive environment of communication and mutual respect. 
  5. Influences the other person and wins him or her as a friend. 
  6. Imparts a good image of the person and the organization that one represents. 

General Business Etiquettes 

  1. Honesty. 
  2. Sensitivity 
  3. Warm and friendly behaviour 
  4. Diplomacy 
  5. Appearance 

Informal Meeting Etiquettes 

  1. Business etiquette demands that the person chairing the informal meeting should be senior most. 
  2. The chairperson should make the purpose of the meeting clear to the attendees. 
  3. Punctuality should be observed because keeping people waiting is considered the height of poor etiquette. 
  4. Ensure that back-biting and loose talks are avoided. 
  5. Ensure that the meeting is being kept on the track. 
  6. Ensure that the meeting should end on a positive note. 

Formal Meeting etiquette 

  1. Dress well and arrive well in time. 
  2. Sit in the appropriate sitting arrangement. 
  3. Switch off the mobile phone. 
  4. Acknowledge the introduction or opening remarks with a brief recognition of the person in chair and other participants 
  5. Never interrupt anyone-even if you disagree. 
  6. Be brief and relevant while speaking. 

Business Lunch/Dinner Etiquettes 

  1. Carry your guest to the restaurant or hotel that caters his or her tastes and preferences. 
  2. Present the Memo Card to the guest and ask about his and her preferable food or beverages. 
  3. Switch your mobile off 
  4. Always eat slower than your quests. 
  5. Attend the guest till the meal arrives. 
  6. Better to keep quiet while eating. 
  7. Serve the guest by putting the meal on his or her plate. 
  8. Do not drink or eat too much as it will spoil the image. 
  9. After finishing the meal, ask the waiter to bring the bill concealed in the menu where money along with the waiter’s tip should be placed. 

10. Team players 

Effective communication skills also include the skill of playing as a team player. In the present day work environment, employees have to work with different people in a cooperative and collaborative environment. To become effective team players, one must learn to work with other team members with diverse backgrounds.

 To become an effective team member, one must possess and develop various skills like: open-mindedness, emotional stability, accountability, problem-solving abilities, conflict resolution skills and trust. 

The skills needed for becoming effective team player include the following: 

  1. Open-mindedness 
  2. Emotional stability 
  3. Accountability 
  4. Problem-solving skills and seeking harmony 
  5. Conflict resolution skills 
  6. Trust 
  7. Flexibility in attitude and approach 

11. Event management skills 

Business organisations have to arrange and organise various events like conferences, meetings, press meets, seminars, etc. Communication skills play its important role in organising these events. 

Professional event management service entails optimum communication skills as well as ability to look into the minute details of things in order to ensure proper execution of events. 

Event management needs one’s ability to work under pressure without losing the temper, working in a team and serving others with a smile. 

These event management skills include the following: 

  1. Analytical thinking and problem solving skills i.e. knowing the various logical steps of the event or problem, instead of brooding over the problem that result in wastage of time and energy. 
  2. Ability to plan the events meticulously, coordinating the various functions and persons and organising them in a systematic way. 
  3. Good networking skills i.e. ability to generate a greater number of contacts that can pay in the long run. 
  4. Client service orientation attitude to enable the customer to feel at ease while interacting. 
  5. Ability to work under stress without losing temper or feeling tired. 
  6. Ability to work as team members. 

12. Valuing cultural diversity 

Present day business has to function in a globalised environment with opportunities at global level and with employment of diverse workforce from different parts of the globe. A diverse workforce presents wonderful opportunities for the companies and for individuals to succeed. 

Therefore all employees should learn to respect diversity. Research has shown that heterogeneous groups are more creative as diversity in culture contributes a lot to the solution of problems. 

For valuing diversity one should learn to treat every individual with unique existence and essence than valuing everyone in one straight set of values. Executives should appreciate the differences among individuals and begin to enable each person to contribute to the organization in their own way. 

Cultural sensitivity enables one to be a better and effective communicator. The person with cultural sensitivity can accept the unique existence and essence of each individual and treat them with equal respect. 

Such persons knowing the cultural backgrounds of different people can use their language, gestures and other body language signals to convey respect and earn goodwill among them. 

13. Negotiation and conflict resolution skills 

Conflict over goals is inevitable among employees in the organisation as they work in a team. They should have sufficient negotiation and conflict resolution skills that can pay them. 

The first rule in negotiation and conflict resolution is to think in a win/win situation, not win/lose or lose/win situation. Next is the willingness to seek first to understand the position of the other party. 

For negotiation and conflict resolution, one should be able to describe the other person’s position as well as his or her own. With this, he or she can draw the other party to come to a win/win situation. For negotiation and conflict resolution, the person should be flexible enough to mould the decision accordingly. 

14. Time and stress management 

In the present competitive environment, various executives and employees have to work in the conditions of stress for long hours to perform multitasks. They must know the way to manage their time and stress in an effective way. Studies have shown that those who have mastered the art of time management are high achievers, in all their endeavors. 

Good time management means accomplishing greater tasks within the limited amount of time available. It involves prioritizing the work and scheduling the time accordingly. Important work should be allotted more time and taken up first and secondary work should also be done within the time schedule. 

Closely related to time management is the management of stress. Employees should also learn to manage stress with various meditation techniques like listening to classical music, practising yoga or any meditation exercise that can keep him or her energetic under different circumstances. Stress management enables one to communicate effectively.

 A person who can manage stress effectively can manage his or her negativity and feel relaxed in interacting with other persons. This helps one to become a good communicator as he or she can control anger and other negative behaviour that can affect interpersonal relations. 

Moreover, stress management enables one to evolve emotionally and feel confident to convey the message without the risk of provoking any person’s reactions. 


How to Improve Communication Skills

Skill in communication is measured by the response the communication evokes. In other words, if the person to whom the message is being communicated has understood the message and reciprocated and reacted in a manner desired by the person, then the communication is effective.

Effective communication which causes someone to do something is to a large extent dependent on efficient communication, which includes both the physical means of communication and the ways in which the communication is achieved.

Communication skills fall into four main areas:

  1. What we say
  2. How we say
  3. Our body language and the body language of the other person
  4. How to read people by watching their eyes.

1. What We Say:

In most of the companies, there are four main aspects of the business which should be communicated throughout the company so that the morale of the company is maintained and decisions are made which not only fit the company’s image and style, but also meet its objectives.

The four things that are to communicated are:

(i) Company Objective or Purpose:

A description of what aims the company has, customers it serves, the products or services it intends to continue to provide, the interests of the different stakeholders i.e. owners, managers, workers and customers, relations with government and other external bodies.

This is the first step in company planning and the process of arriving at an acceptable definition of company purpose is both time consuming and indeed quite painstaking. But it is the basis of the infrastructure as well as the yardstick against which measurements are made of major objectives and strategies of the company.

(ii) Long Term Plans:

That is the objectives and strategies in key areas of the company — these areas which are vital to the success and continuity of the company. Objectives should be made explicit in terms of what is to be maintained and what should be improved in each key area; strategies should be set out as the way in which the objectives are to be achieved.

(iii) Short Term Plans:

Relates to the company or to the unit. If these are product plans then they should be communicated to all who are involved in the plans development, technical changes, quantities to be produced, attributes, factory output, packaging costs and profitability.

If they are marketing plans, they should include short-term objectives per customer per product, per period, promotion strategies and activities, selling goals and schedules of activity, service or technical back-ups and cost allocation. They should be communicated in the minutest detail as possible for everyone responsible for contact with customers.

A particular group which is usually overlooked in most of the companies is the sales administration staff – Those who are responsible for dealing with paperwork of orders are often responsible for fielding customer inquiries and complaints, and may have the responsibility of setting priorities.

In short term plans, one can also include an item which has to be communicated — the budget — but here, it does not necessarily refer to only figures of costs and revenues, but also to the background of these figures and the thought process that has gone into the decision making.

The service industry needs even clearer lines of communication, since the service only “exists”, when the customer demands it. This implies that every single individual who will in all probability interact with the customer at any time needs to know the company policies and needs to be ’empowered’ to use judgement when unexpected situations arise. Not only that, but staff need to be encouraged to report their experience to all the other members of the business, in order to make communication ‘circular’.

(iv) Market Information:

There is a need to disseminate market information. Trends in the market, forecasts of changes, both macro- and micro-economic, so that the input into decision making of a higher standard should be collected, collated and communicated.

However, in order to communicate the above-mentioned four things, we need words, and the words that are actually used should be determined to some degree by the person to whom the words are spoken. If one can reflect the type of language used by the persons, they will feel more at ease.

There are two ways in which rapport can be built with others:

a. To reflect back the words used by the persons:

One can use the industry jargon, if the other person uses it or one can repeat the words, the customer or the other person uses. This type of communication is used by the advertisers to lure their target customer to buy the product. Similarly, the politicians also use this method to attract the votes.

As a matter of fact when one communicates with another in his expressions and language, there is an immediate proximity that develops between the two as both of them find something that is common and binding.

More often than not, most of the people forget this technique while communicating, for instance a sales professional who has a strong command over English, when he goes to meet his prospective customer starts communicating in English, without thinking for a moment whether the other person is comfortable in the language or not and nine out of ten times, he loses the customer and his business as well.

b. To use the ideas from “home base”:

This is quite scientific as Brandler and Grinder discovered in 1970, that all of us have a home base of language which includes visual, auditory and kinesthics. By using words from the individual home base, building rapport becomes quite easy at the subconscious level and at the same time creates a personal change.

(1) Visual:

Visually based people use all the words one would associate with seeing. For instance, when people say, ‘it seems to me’, ‘it appears to me’, ‘that’s a myopic point of new’, ‘I am eye to eye with you on that’, ‘I get the picture’, ‘I can visualise’, ‘it looks to me’ — and all those type of expressions that clearly say that their thinking process is, at that moment, in a visual mode.

When one meets a visual person, that is, someone who uses all these sight images, they may well say, ‘nice to see you’ or ‘I look forward to seeing you again’. Visual people are more concerned with style and shape and colour.

(2) Auditory:

The auditory people or the hearing people, use such language as “as far as I have heard”, “word for word”, “that is quite unheard of”, “I can hear you loud and clear”. When such people meet, they might say something along the lines of “I heard you were coming”, “I hear you are progressing in your job”, “I look forward to hearing from you again” and so on and so forth. Auditory people or the hearing people are concerned with all types of sounds.

(3) Kinesthics:

Kinesthics are feeling people and use all feeling images. When such people talk, they usually say, “I have a feeling”, “I feel like”, “it just slipped my mind”, “let me lay my cards on the table”, “the feeling that is generated”. When they meet, they might say, “how are you feeling?” When they leave, they might say “I look forward to getting in touch with you again”.

By now, one has got the basic idea that people fall into three main home base language categories, that is visual (the seeing people), auditory (the hearing people) and kinesthics (the feeling people). All of us have different words but all of us tend to have this home-base of a language.

Many times, one has heard. “It doesn’t look as though you are listening”. Again, the visual message in the language is showing through. A pertinent question that arises is “What is the use of this information?” or “Why do we need to know the type of language different people use?”

Its benefit to us in any profession is in building rapport, in an honest way with our customers and clients, not to forget our colleagues also. If we reflect back to our customers, the language that they are using at a subconscious level they will feel more comfortable with our message and be prepared to listen to us more easily.

Most of the time the various statements we make to our customers and the different questions that we ask them are precondi­tioning their minds to a particular thought pattern. If one goes to a customer and begins by saying, “Isn’t business difficult now-a-days?” the chances are at the end of the sales talk, the person may not be keen to buy the product or the services.

If one begins a conversation with negative thought then that is the “mindset” into which he has pushed the customer. What is important is to start all our conversations by asking well-thought questions or to make out well thought of statements that will condition the conversation in a positive, professional and more importantly in a business-like way.

More often than not, we believe that our customers have understood all that we have said, but unfortunately in many cases, this is not the situation. As professionals, we should constantly ask questions to ensure that messages we are providing are understood by our listeners.

2. How We Say It:

The problems which arise with the physical aspects of communications are many; perhaps more than we contemplate.

Although courses and seminars in public speaking and making presentations usually have an enthusiastic audience, there are still many areas where communication is efficient, that is, where the message does not get across, or where the whole process becomes distorted through deliberate misunder­standing or careless underestimation of levels of intelligence. There are four major principles on which different skills can be based, and some major barriers to be recognized.

The four principles are:

(i) Decide what is to be communicated; what message one is trying to get across? What thought does one have to leave with the audience? What action one wants the recipient to take? What level of information the recipient should absorb?

(ii) Identify who is to be communicated with. All communication should fit the “receivers”, it should fit their level of understanding, their view of themselves and it is therefore vital to have some fairly clear idea with whom one is trying to communicate.

(iii) Arrange the communication as simply as possible. Care is needed to make things simple. Simplicity, on the contrary, is the hardest goal to achieve.

(iv) Check that the message is understood. Wherever possible, communication should be reinforced, by some kind of “feedback” to assure the sender that the message has been received. Apart from the fact that firing of communications into the blue is very frustrating, it is also very wasteful of energy, and time.

Not only is every single word we say is important, but also how we say things count for much more. In this regard the word “picture” finds a great importance in which one tries to point a picture with his voice.

The word “picture” has a very practical acronyms which is as follows:

  1. P — Pitch
  2. I — Inflection
  3. C — Courtesy
  4. T — Tone
  5. U — Understandability
  6. R — Rate
  7. E — Enunciation

a. Pitch:

One needs to decide whether or not one is going to pitch his voice high or low. Experts say that the lower voice is better because it projects and carries. It is also less irritating compared to a high pitched voice particularly on the telephone. Moreover, a low pitched voice indicates sobriety.

b. Inflection:

If a person talks in a monotone then sooner or later he is going to bore the listeners. But if he uses feelings to express an idea or a mood with a rising inflection, at the end of the sentences, he will be able to hold the attention of the listeners.

c. Courtesy:

Courtesy pays a lot and particularly when one is not able to watch the expressions of the listener as in the case on telephone. Courtesy also makes people respond to the speaker so that the speaker is able to gauge the response of the audience.

d. Tone:

Again to repeat the sentence, it isn’t what one says, but the way in which one says”, holds true. Our voice can reflect sincerity, confidence, interest or pleasantness.

e. Understandability:

We would all agree that in any communication we should avoid talking with things in our mouth, be it food, cigarettes, pens or even fingers. The second point with understandability one needs to be careful about the use of jargon or slang. Jargons are useful only when they build rapport with customers so that they know we understand their business.

But if one is using one’s own professional jargon and the customers are not able to understand what the person is saying, then for all practical purpose, communication is defeated because the customers will be reluctant to ask as they might feel stupid in front of the person. It is very easy to alienate people by the use of inappropriate jargon.

f. Rate:

This is the speed at which an individual speaks and if one speaks very quickly, then people tend to listen, how quickly the individual is speaking. As a matter of fact, if an individual speaks at incredibly high speeds, then it is extremely easy to start listening to how quickly he is speaking rather than to what actually he is saying.

On the other hand speaking too slowly can also be quite irritating because the listeners will be left hanging on every word and will try to anticipate what the speaker is going to say and could fall into the trap of ending the sentences for the speakers. So one should be very careful about the speed of the speech and make the conversations interesting.

g. Enunciation:

The English language is full of difficulties with enunciation, particularly Ds and Ts along with F, S, P and B. Clear enunciation helps in removing misunderstandings and the need to repeat what one has said. Similarly one should also be clear about the code numbers regarding the products, specifically, if the order is being taken on telephone.


Communication Skill Example

Examples to understand Communication Skills. 

Everyone has hands and legs. But does everyone know how to swim? No. It is something you have to learn… as you develop your skills, you will get better at using the available tools. Just because we have been talking all our life does not mean we know how to communicate better. Unless you consciously exercise your communication skills, just like exercising your brain, it will not be powerful or effective.

From our childhood we have been given verbal and non-verbal instructions on how to behave and talk to people. Despite this, we often find that some people interrupt while others speak. On the other hand, how many of us can confidently say we are good at handling interruptions?

We have been taught to people rather than speak with them: Many generations have now been ingrained with this thought and if you reflect even for a minute you will realize that it is not really a good rule to live by. Many such skills and so called truths that have been passed on through generations often hamper our thought processes and result in a life that is less than wonderful. Take a few minutes to examine any such undesirable beliefs that you adhere to.

For example, we are taught that those who can talk faster are usually sharper than others. (Good communication skills?) Speed is being given priority rather than the ability to critically think and explore. You need speed when trying to run away from danger but it takes intellect to think of a way to stay away from it.

If you have a picture or a sound in mind that you want to convey, it will be much easier to achieve your goal. To start practising good communication skills, start using this principle today! This is not applicable just for people, every business also should train its employees on business communication skills so they can be represented in an appropriate manner in the marketplace.

Every time you communicate, make a point to stop for a few seconds and reflect on What you are about to communicate?

We all think the secrets of good communication are always very unusual and something which you have never heard. On the contrary almost all the best secrets are always hidden in plain sight like this one. It is so simple that you may tend to ignore it, boy that would be such a mistake.

We all have an urge to be better than we are. That urge to better yourself may be the reason you are reading this page right now. You may have even attended many programs and seminars investing a lot of time and money in order to improve your life, if you are like me, you may have even felt the sting of the cost involved in these high priced seminars only to be stung again by another guru with another product or seminar.

There are a lot of programs which promise instant success in public speaking. If you come across any one of them, run away as fast as you can. True, there are some tips and techniques which can make a dramatic difference in the way you speak or the way you achieve your goals and aspirations in life. But if a product or workshop promises which sound too good to be true, it is probably too good to be true.

If you have been on the lookout for a program that makes dramatic changes in your life, look for a coach who has lived his teaching, someone who has been in the ditches and come out successfully and most importantly someone who cares enough to be there for you when you need him.

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