Stand up, Speak up, Move up — Effective communication in the workplace

By Cathy Holloway-Hill

It is no secret that effective communication and strong interpersonal relationships top the list of necessities for a successful career. Communication breakdowns are the main cause of business disputes, team challenges and relationship problems. Progressing in your career and having an overall improved quality of life will require the development of exemplary communication skills in order to connect with others and persuade them to buy in to your ideas.

Emotional intelligence is a popular topic on the minds of many successful executives because it has been proven that connecting with employees’ emotions is the key to building a strong successful business that benchmarks your organization in the industry. Happy employees equate to productive employees which also equates to satisfied customers.

Following are key strategies for enhancing your communication skills at work:

Develop your listening skills

In order to be a great communicator, you must first be a great listener. Research shows we spend 80% of our waking hours communicating and at least 45% of that time is spent listening.  Therefore, it is critical to understand how to listen effectively. While engaged in conversation, concentrate and focus on the person speaking. Make it a point to maintain good eye contact without staring. Do not allow distractions to interrupt the person speaking. In addition to hearing the person, connect with the message the person is trying to convey. If appropriate, repeat what you heard to ensure that you received the message the way it was intended.

Visualize a positive outcome

The power of visualization is effective in many aspects of our lives, and communication is no different. Visualization for success starts with preparation and believing in you. When you visualize yourself as an exemplary, confident communicator, you will begin to align your attitude, beliefs and behaviors around the vision. Your subconscious will store it as a belief, and over a short period of time, it will become second nature for you to effectively communicate.

Think with the end in mind

A critical key to effective communication is to have an objective. What do you expect to accomplish from the encounter? Whether it is a sales pitch or a conversation with your boss, there should be an objective or a desired outcome. Understanding what it is will help you better prepare for the discussion.

Understand the power in nonverbals

You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it,” and this applies for effective communication. The words you speak only account for a mere 10% of the message.  Your tone accounts for 35%, and your body language accounts for a whopping 55% of the message. Therefore, it is critical to assess the nonverbal signals you portray as a speaker as well as the nonverbals you read as a listener.

In order to experience genuine communication in your relationships with others, you first need to understand where they are coming from and what is important to them. When you have a true interest in who they are (not just what they are saying), it will come across in your connection. People thrive on strong, supportive relationships. Stand out from the crowd as an effective communicator and you will be highly sought in all aspects of your career. Knowing your truth will allow you to communicate with confidence, clarity and commitment to excellence.

Cathy Holloway Hill is a life design strategist, psychologist and author of “Secret Betrayal — How to Heal Female Rivalries.”