Health Action Council members who attended our recent workshop, Share & Compare: Everything Requires Communication, participated in a hands-on training session featuring communication experts, Davis Young and Scott Juba. For members who were unable to attend, here is an overview of important points and key takeaways.
1. ACTIVE LISTENING
Truly effective communication begins not with speaking, but with actively listening to what others have to say. Although you may be eager to express your point of view, adopting a “listen-first” approach reduces misunderstandings, shows that you care about others and helps you make better decisions.
Like anything else, listening requires practice. To get you started, here are a few techniques that can help you become a more active listener:
- Physically lean in; mentally tune in
- Watch for non-verbal cues
- Take notes
- Repeat what you heard
- Don’t speak over others
2. CLEAR, CONCISE WRITING
These days, written communication is just as important as verbal communication. Think about the number of emails you received last week alone. How many of them communicated a concise message that made it easy for you to take action? Now think about the emails you sent. Did they elicit the responses or actions you anticipated? Were they written in a professional tone, representative of your organization? If the answer is yes, good for you. Your good habits are bringing clarity to the workplace, creating better relationships and reducing errors.
Still, even the best writers can always improve their skills. So, before you click “send” or turn in that next report, take a look at these tips from Scott and Davis on how to improve your written communication skills with every piece of writing you produce for your organization.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes – Ask yourself, “if I received this, would I understand it?” The important thing to remember is that your recipient is likely not as familiar with the subject you are discussing. So, avoid confusing language, jargon or references.
Less is more – Blaise Pascal, 17th century mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher, once said; “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Although he was referring to a hand-written letter, his point rings true to this day.
Write for shrinking attention spans – Expanding on Pascal’s advice, consider the two samples below. Although they both communicate the same message, version (a.) is much more direct and to the point than version (b.). Which version would you want to see in your inbox?
- Better writing is a pathway to getting promoted.
- There are many factors that go into whether or not an employee gets promoted. Among those would be the ability to write clearly so co-workers and direct reports have a better sense of expectations.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Better writing doesn’t happen overnight, so use every piece of correspondence as an opportunity to practice your craft.
3. PERSUASIVE SPEECH
At one point or another, we all find ourselves at a loss for words, or unable to effectively convey the ideas in our heads. But, effective verbal communication is not just about finding the right words. It’s also about making meaningful connections with others. Eye contact, body language, tone of voice… they all play an equally important role in how our message is received. Whether you’re speaking to one person or to a group of people, paying attention to details like these helps to engage your audience. Once you have their attention, here are some tips for keeping it:
- Speak to your audience’s interests, not yours.
- Be respectful of others in the conversation.
- Be conversational.
- Frame your message in the context of an interesting story.
- Get to the point!
At Health Action Council, we provide valuable programming to support the professional development of our members. Our hope is that this training event, and the companion article you just read, gave you actionable advice that you can use to more effectively communicate with colleagues. To see what’s coming next, check out our events page!