Jan Shine: Confident Communication
Jan Shine FAUA | People Development Consultant, Paullus People Development (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This is just one of a regular series from Jan, aimed at delivering short, easily digestible and thought provoking professional development tips, ideas and skills. These bite-size articles will encompass all levels and areas of HE professional services activity, offering top tips, developing key skills and suggesting things to consider.
Confident and effective communication is not just about what and how you communicate, equally important is the way in which you cooperate, connect and interact with others. The following points capture some of the key features of applying verbal and non-verbal communication skills confidently and professionally for positive impact in the workplace. There are also many examples of effective communication behaviours embedded in the CPD Framework, particularly in the areas of Managing Self and Personal Skills, Delivering Excellent Service and Working Together.
Use positive language
Focus on positive words and messages. For example consider the different impact of the following two statements:
“I’ve considered your views very carefully, but I’ve decided…”
“I’ve considered your views very carefully, and I’ve decided…”
Your posture and facial expressions can communicate confidence, for example, holding your head up and maintaining an open stance, arms hanging loosely, hands open and relaxed. Try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, before entering a situation that makes you nervous or uncomfortable.
Give full attention
Focus exclusively on the interaction you are having by listening with respect and interest, by summarising when appropriate, by moving away from your PC/desk, redirecting telephone calls/ silencing your mobile devices.
People are more likely to take your view into consideration if you state: “in my opinion…” as opposed to presenting your opinion as a ‘fact’ or hiding behind a generic statement like “I think everyone feels…”.
Use short, punchy sentences and clear, concise language appropriate to the context.
Read the messages others give out. For example, if they seem distracted, you may offer to arrange another time to speak.
Treat all parties as ‘communication peers’ regardless of structural hierarchy and relationships, for example giving equal turns and attention.
In verbal communication emphasise certain words to add meaning to your message, for example to express enthusiasm, and use the full range of your voice.
Consider your focus
Reflect on the amount of time you spend focusing on yourself during communication (e.g. expressing your opinion, disagreeing with others’ opinions, making proposals, providing information, giving advice, interrupting or talking over others) and on other people (e.g.specifically asking others for their opinions, building on what others’ say, checking understanding, and demonstrating that you value others’ contributions). An ideal ratio is 40% / 60%, though of course it will depend upon your role, the context and nature of the communication.