We communicate with people all the time at work, whether it be on the phone, talking with your boss, or working together on a team. How we communicate with each other, and the skills you learn, will determine whether people take you seriously, perceive you as confident and are patient with what you have to say.
You’ve probably at times found yourselves on the other sides of these actions (when your coworkers broke the rules). You may not have been able to articulate exactly why their communication didn’t work for you, but think about how you reacted, and what you felt.
Then make sure and practice communicating in a way that speaks about you in the way you want to be seen! Here are a few tips:
Be clear and to the point.
Say who you are, what you want and why (if necessary). This may be a problem for women more than men, but the issue is this: At work, get to the point QUICKLY. Say exactly what it is you want, or are trying to convey.
For example, “Our company should support the Alpha Project.” Or, “My research shows the budget cuts must be made in the production arena.” You get the idea.
If you are on the phone, identify yourself and say what you want. Be ready with the why, but state the bare minimum first. In a meeting, make your point FIRST. Don’t work up to it, don’t explain. Explain AFTER you make the point.
This takes practice, but the more you can lead with your message, the better off you’ll be. And if you’ve told someone precisely where you’re going, they’re more likely to listen to your ‘why’ afterward.
This is especially true when making a presentation, asking for a particular outcome, or making an argument.
When speaking with people higher up in the chain, it’s important you state your main point first, and then the superior can decide how much of the backup information they want.
If you start with the ‘evidence’ for where you’re eventually going to go, you take up the amount of time YOU think you need to, without being respectful of theirs.
So make sure you get to the point as quickly as possible. Once you’ve commanded enough respect, you will have to give less of the backup material, and simply have your requests or suggestions heeded.
When stating an important idea, speak slowly and clearly, and pause afterward.
On the heels of the tip above is an ancillary one. State the main idea slowly (don’t rush through it) and then pause a moment when you’re done.
When you are making a request, stating a key point, or presenting an argument, you want your audience to hear the main idea. So give it time to sink in. Don’t rush over it, or jump too quickly to the “why.”
Many times when we’re making a big point, we want to rush into the background information so we can prove we have a good reason for our great idea. You’ll get there. Take your time.
You want your audience to be able to hear the key piece, give it weight, and be able to start considering it.
Don’t overly use UNIDENTIFIED pronouns.
This is one of my personal pet peeves. “I called him to talk about that thing, and I couldn’t believe he told me all about it.” Huh?!? Who’s the “him,” what’s the “thing” and what’s the “it”? Better to use proper pronouns and have others understand exactly what you’re trying to convey. For example, “I spoke to Joe about the Commodore project and he told me where they were in the process of completion.”
Remember that you want to do the work to make sure you can be easily understood. Don’t make the other person work too hard to understand what you want to convey. You want to come across as professional, clear and confident. And it will benefit you in ways you can’t even imagine!
Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website, PowerfulLatinas.com, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.