I think we can all agree that communication is a necessity of life. It’s a skill we learn at a very young age to express ourselves and engage with others. It seems simple; however, we all have our individual style of communicating and how we best receive and share information with others.
Some of us communicate better through visuals, and some of us need to talk things out verbally, engaging in a conversation. To best communicate with your audience, it’s important to learn your target audience’s preferred method of engaging to ensure your message is received as intended, making it a win-win for both the sender and the receiver.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed firsthand how communication impacted how we received and shared information. While working from home, we saw our inboxes filling up with lots of emails that would have normally been answered by a quick stop at our colleague’s desk pre-pandemic. The quick in-person chats and group meetings were replaced with several emails and conference calls, making it difficult to keep up. Communications were often getting misconstrued somewhere along the way.
When we’re unable to read each other’s facial expressions or body language, it’s important to be mindful of how we’re communicating to ensure its effectiveness.
Here are five strategies that can help organizations implement effective communication skills:
1. Listening to understand: This is also referred to as active listening, where you’re giving your full attention and listening to understand the speaker’s message as intended.
2. Asking powerful questions: Asking questions will confirm collective meaning, ensuring the audience received the message as intended. We all have different communication styles and may not interpret the information in the same manner. Being inquisitive is also a sign of showing support. It lets the speaker know you are engaged and interested in what they have to say.
3. Storytelling and vulnerability: Sharing your message in the form of a story is likely to ensure your audience will not only remember your story, but they will be able to connect it to a purpose. By sharing a personal experience in your story, others will be able to relate to the sentiment behind it and appreciate your vulnerability, which also helps to build trust.
4. Adaptability to different communication styles: It’s important to identify your audience first and choose a communication style based on that. If you’re speaking to a group of executives, you’re more likely to keep your communications very high-level then if you were speaking to a room full of employees who may require more information to help them better connect the what and why your message is important. Define the “what’s in it for me” piece for your audience.
5. Matching the technology to the task: Communicating in a digital age is also something we’re all learning to become more accustomed to. A practice that has worked for me during the pandemic is matching the technology to the task. Matching technology to the task means sending simple tasks such as informational items via email and handling more complex tasks interactively (conference or video calls work best for me). This can also include face-to-face discussions for folks that are already back in the office or participating in hybrid work schedules. Details of a complex task are less likely to be misunderstood when communicating via live engagement.
Whether we’re communicating in person or remotely, we can be more effective communicators by implementing a few easy steps. Being mindful of our audience and identifying the most effective communication style to engage with them is likely to build a more meaningful connection.
Confirming collective meaning ensures the message is received as intended. Being open to different communication styles is even more important today, given the interdependent world we live in and the various technologies that provide us the capabilities to communicate with each other from all corners of the globe. Communication is a powerful skillset that enables us to evolve, which is a great reason why we should never stop learning each other’s love language.
Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected] And to read more from our summer/fall 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort and a link to their stories.
Ozlem is a senior management official currently working for the Director of the Office of Communications at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She’s been employed at the IRS for 16 years, possessing a wide range of experience from the Collections, Engagement & Retention Office and the Strategy and Organizational Improvement Office to name a few.