Communication is about more than just being able to talk to people. The best communicators can build relationships with colleagues and customers, driving effective and successful business practices. Politicians and preachers use communication to influence others. Actors and writers know how to use tone effectively to reach their audiences. Painters and statisticians use symbols to give meaning to the information they are trying to convey. Public relations people and compliance officers use communication to establish goodwill among stakeholders and communities. No matter what you do, you can incorporate all four of these styles into your daily work.
Influence in the Workplace
Understanding how to influence is not limited to leaders. Employees at all levels of an organization can use influencing skills to be more effective at their jobs. One aspect of influencing involves listening to others and understanding their views in support of building trust. Connecting with them increases your ability to influence them. Employees with effective influencing skills are able to gain buy-in and approval from their colleagues to bring about change in the workplace.
Incorporating Symbols to Enhance Communication
In today’s technology-driven workplace, there is an abundance of data. A valuable and effective communication skill involves translating data into meaningful information. When pages of words and numbers are translated into graphs, charts and other visual representations, people can connect with the logic of what is being presented. According to Harvard Business School, people make this connection because the symbols reach them from both an emotional and logical standpoint, painting a picture that people can relate to.
Goodwill and Trust-Based Communication
Companies can be made or broken by the way they build or destroy goodwill among their stakeholders. Goodwill represents a company's reputation. Customer relationship building is a key aspect of goodwill, reflecting how employees communicate with customers. Applying integrity through all business transactions is critical to building effective relationships. Employee attitudes and behaviors translate into trust that keeps customers coming back and encourages new customers to come on board. There is a direct correlation between effective, trust-based communication and establishing goodwill.
Effective use of Tone
Teachers and lecturers who drone on in a monotone voice lose the attention of their students. The same happens during presentations at work. Whether speaking to one person or presenting to a group, the effective use of inflections will engage listeners and hold their interest. In written correspondence, it is important to remember readers cannot see facial expressions or hear tone of voice to decipher whether there is anger or humor in the message. Emoticons are not the answer. In work-based written communications, the message should be simply and clearly stated. Effectively applying tone to written and verbal communication will avoid confusion, conflict and save time.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.