Are Your Communication Skills Dragging You Down?
Did you just miss out on that dream job or promotion…. Again? Did you fail to make an impression and lose out on a date? Did you just get into an argument with your other half? It might be because your communication skills are dragging you down.
Effective communication is the power behind any successful relationship. Whether that’s the workplace, socially, or in your personal relationships.
The problem with ineffective communication usually comes back to not understanding your communication style and the communication style of others you are interacting with. If you take a line through highly successful people, almost all of them have the ability to persuade and communicate vision. These are critical skills you learn through sales training and business coaching.
If you have aspirations to climb the corporate ladder, ask for a raise, get a promotion, or a new job, enhancing your communication skills is what will get you there – quicker.
Communicating in a Job Interview
What if the interviewer has one style of personality and you have another? Would this lead to a successful interview?
Getting an interviewer onside and making a good first impression is key to a great interview. If you can’t build trust and rapport, even if the interviewer has a different communication style from you, this will greatly decrease your chances of getting to the next stage.
Most interviewers know you will be nervous. That’s okay, so is everyone else. If you do your research and preparation in advance this will help settle those nerves. More importantly, an interviewer already knows you have the skills they are looking for. It says so on your resume. What they want to know is, how you will fit in with the team and how you relate to others (communication!).
This means learning more about how people like to communicate.
Communication in the Workplace
To do a job well, it is important to get cooperation from others in the organization. If you don’t get along with your boss, this can spell disaster. If you don’t get on with the people who report to you, they can sabotage your results. If you need cooperation across business units, it means building excellent working relationships that result in getting what you need to do your job, and when you need it.
This doesn’t mean you have to need to be everyone’s friend, this can actually work against you. What you need to be able to do is understand other people’s communication styles and define a professional relationship where you can disagree with others agreeably.
Learning what your communication style is and adapting your style to suit other communication styles is what will get you ahead in your life and your career.
Top executives get there not because of their technical skills, they get there because of their communication skills. They know how to sell themselves and their ideas effectively. They are good internal salespeople, networkers, and marketers. They communicate well with others.
Let’s have a look at the basics of communication.
80% of Communication is Misunderstood
Good communication is about getting your message across clearly and succinctly. Surveys show that up to 80% of everything communicated is misunderstood to some extent. This leads to difficult relationships at home and in the workplace.
- Communication involves two components, a sender of a message and a receiver of a message.
- Communication is not something you do “to” people – it is something you do “with” people.
- Communication is only successful when both the “sender” and the “receiver” have the same understanding. If so, it means you have conveyed your thoughts and ideas effectively.
Unfortunately, not all messages sent are received in the manner intended. If your thoughts and ideas are not communicated effectively, this creates a roadblock leading to a communication breakdown. When this happens, it causes problems at home, in your personal life, and the workplace.
Because we can’t read minds, we need a channel to communicate our thoughts, ideas, feelings, opinions, attitudes, and messages.
The Mehrabian Model of Communication
Professor Albert Mehrabian, currently consulting as Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, pioneered research into the understanding of communication. Mehrabian’s work led to an early understanding of body language and non-verbal communications.
In his research, he concluded that are three channels we use to communicate with others:
- Verbal: The words we use
- Vocal: Our tone of Voice
- Visual: Nonverbal behavior (Body Language)
According to Professor Mebrahian, only 7% of total communication skills come down to the actual words we use. The balance comes from the tone of our voice (38%) and our body language (55%).
Let’s see how this can drag us down in the workplace.
How Communication Drags You Down
Communicating Via Email (and Text)
If only 7% of our communication comes down to the words we use, email is not the greatest way to communicate. Yes, it can be quick and easy, but it’s fraught with the danger of getting other people’s backs up. Until we get a response, we are never sure of how someone is going to receive the message in the manner in which it was sent.
We’ve all experienced the email from someone who just needs to make their point in the most dramatic way. They cc EVERYONE they can cc to get their point across. What does this do? It inflames the situation and makes whatever the problem was – even worse. Nothing will drag you down quicker than firing off emails like this. Don’t expect ongoing cooperation from others in the future, they won’t want to engage.
Avoid the blame game via email or text. If you need to discuss something sensitive like this, pick up the phone or go face-to-face instead. Blame, criticism, and anger via email or text is a big no-no! The receiver of the message might forget what you said – but they will never forget how your email or text made them feel. Deep down, those on the receiving end of text or email that plays the blame game will destroy trust, confidence, and cooperation.
It’s vitally important when you are communicating with people via email or text you check the following before you the send button.
Use a Greeting
Did you start with a nice greeting – like, Hi, Hello or something else again? Without an opening greeting it’s like walking up to someone you haven’t met before or seen in a while, without acknowledging them.
When you meet someone for the first time you’re usually polite and greet them with a warm hello. Be polite in your email as well.
Check Your Tone
Remember the Mehrabian communication model, words make up 7% of the message and 38% tone. With email (and text) 55% of your communication skills are missing (body language). Make sure you bring the right tone into the body of the email.
Before you push the send button, check the tone of your message – this is more important than the words you are using. Ask the question, does your message sound abrupt and curt? Often it does without realizing it. A sure-fire way to get people not to respond and click the delete button, they won’t want to engage.
Read the Message From The Other Persons Point of View
Before pushing the send button, put yourself into another person’s shoes. How are they going to receive the message sent? How will they interpret what you’ve written? Is the message received going to read as you intended? Read the message from their point of view.
Take a breath and ensure the content of the message delivers the message that will see them cooperating with you. If you get their back up, you won’t be able to persuade them or get what you need. This may be your downfall if you need their cooperation to do your job well.
Learning how to communicate and persuade others to your way of thinking is a key component of sales training.
Finish With a Salutation
Do you walk away from someone after talking to them without saying goodbye? Most likely not. Yet how many people using email leave their email signature to say goodbye. It’s a cold way to end an email, especially when requesting information.
A simple “appreciate your help, thank you, regards (and your name)” is more likely to endear people to you. If you don’t know someone well, always sign off with – regards, thanks, or something else again along with your name just as you would face-to-face. This brings in the missing elements of communication (body language, tone) into the email.
Communicating by Phone
Taking into account that words and tone only make up 45% of your communication skills, your tone when communicating by phone is vitally important. Try if possible to match the tone and speed of the person you are talking to as this helps to get you into rapport.
If they speak slowly, you speak slowly. If they speak quickly, speed up your voice as well. And Smile!!! Yes smiling while you are talking on the phone goes a long way to bringing tone into your communication. If all else fails – at least be enthusiastic if appropriate.
Of course, face-to-face communication is the best way to communicate. Not only because you are using 100% of your communication skills because now body language comes into play, you can read how the other person is responding to you. You can see by their facial expressions, and their body language if you are in rapport or not.
With face-to-face communication, you have more control over the way a conversation is going and matching and mirroring can turn an uncomfortable conversation into a comfortable one.
I know this can be difficult since so many people work from home since COVID and Zoom have become a thing. If you can’t get in front of people face-to-face, then at least bring extra tone and enthusiasm into your discussions.
When you realize that many jobs and promotions happen behind closed doors, building relationships and networking become your secret weapon to success. That means sales training which incorporates learning all the following skills and more.
- Rapport building
- Effective communication
- Asking the right questions at the right time
- Learning to negotiate
- Understand the collective goals of a team, individual, or business.
- Handling and overcoming objections
- Closing the sale (whether that’s getting a project approved, a raise, funding approved, your ideas accepted)
- The Power of Networking
- Presentation Mastery
Who would have thought how beneficial sales training can be when it comes to your future prospects and career?
Learning sales skills significantly increases your ability to communicate with others and gain cooperation – not just in your professional relationships, also in your personal relationship. When you understand how others communicate, you begin to understand yourself and the types of relationships that lead to future successes.
Learning to lead, learning to run a business is no easy task. It takes time and education to transform yourself into the leader you want to be. It all starts with learning how to hire and manage people. It is your communication and people skills that separate the wheat from the chaff.
To find out how you stack up as a leader. You never know what others see that you don’t see yourself. This kind of feedback is not always negative, perhaps you have great attributes and talents you weren’t even aware of.
Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive
80% of business owners do little more than just survive. They often make less than in full paid employment. They can’t take sick leave, they usually work longer hours and take less vacations.
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