How to Communicate Effectively
Removing fluff or unnecessary chatter is a core element to effectively communicating at work, so let’s get right to it.
Warren Buffett, a luminary billionaire investor, once said:
“You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it. And the transmission is communication,”
He added, “If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
Being an effective communicator allows us to convey our ideas, thoughts, and opinions in a way that others understand. And that ability starts long before uttering a single word.
Being a great communicator starts with critical thinking or looking at situations and data differently to help broaden our knowledge on a topic. Empathy and strong work relationships help us “know our audience” so we can provide information in a way that encourages our listeners to keep listening versus raising concerns and potentially tuning out. The final element is preparation, which is dedicated, focused time to bring all this knowledge together to define what and how we want to communicate. Let’s go through each in more detail.
Critical thinking is vital to being an effective communicator because we need to understand different opinions on a topic, whether we agree with those opinions or not. We need to be aware of different opinions and consider how they might influence or impact the opinions of who we will be talking with. This understanding will help us determine what information and level of detail we need to include in our conversations. We can also prepare for potential pushback on our approaches or ideas ahead of time. Then, during our conversation, we will demonstrate confidence and creditability thanks to a prepared response.
Empathy and understanding different work styles, which is a core tenant of building strong work relationships, are important to communicating successfully because of the need to “know our audience.” If you do not understand who you are talking with, their needs, potential concerns, desires, responsibilities, and cultural norms, you will most likely speak in terms only you understand. Empathetic concern is the skill that provides an understanding of what others need from us. With strong empathetic concern, you will know how to communicate in a way that holds your audience’s attention versus raising potential concerns in their minds, causing them to turn their thoughts to those concerns versus listening. This knowledge of others extends to understanding different work styles and specifically how others prefer to communicate. Your topic, combined with this communication preference knowledge, will help you know how and when to have your conversations.
Like many aspects of work, effective communication is about others, not about ourselves.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to be a superior active listener when it comes to effectively communicating.
So, as you can see, what we say is the last step of a far longer process of being an effective communicator.