Communication in the workplace is critical, often being the make-it-or-break-it piece of an otherwise-solid company.
Whether leading an enterprise or performing grunt work on the ground floor, each individual's communication skills play a vital role in the success of that person, his or her team and company as a whole.
This is why so many of today's great leaders make fortunes teaching communication.
However, many of us do not have additional time or resources available to spend on workshops, conferences and books, even though most of us want to continue learning.
Here are six ways in which you can improve your communication skills efficiently. These are tips you can implement as soon as you read them.
Though you can act on these immediately, all habits do take time to form.
Accordingly, I recommend you reference these tips over the coming weeks until they become second nature to you.
I also recommend sharing these tips with your team, or anyone you communicate with regularly, so everyone can be on the same page.
1. Spend Time Alone, In Thought.
Only with inspection can anything be improved. Spend time alone to yourself, assessing what you already do, what's good and what could be better.
When you were in school, you were graded on how you performed, and that grade provided you with a benchmark.
Maybe it showed you were doing well; maybe it showed areas for improvement.
Either way, you knew because someone took the time and effort to assess your ability. Similarly, I recommend having a coach, mentor or group of friends who will keep you in check.
Though, if you do not already have that in place, I understand it is difficult to implement quickly and effectively.
What you can do in the mean time, much like the teacher, is give yourself an assessment.
Spending quiet time alone gives your mind and body the chance to catch up with the stresses of the day, week or however long it's been since you last took time to relax.
As your mind catches up, it becomes more capable of processing thoughts and events, rather than merely reacting to them.
Find time -- maybe right now, maybe at the end of the day or early in the morning -- when you can give your mind time to process.
As you're processing the day's (or week's) events, analyze how you've been communicating recently.
No matter how good a person is at communicating, we all need continual assessment.
Think through where you could have communicated better, and praise yourself when you've done well! No one grows without encouragement.
To improve your communications skills today, quietly take time to assess what you do well and where you can improve.
2. Express Your Thoughts.
If you think somebody's wrong, say it. If you think somebody's right or has done well, praise him or her! If you think you could offer more, let those around you know.
In becoming a better communicator, it helps to say what you think and feel. Express what you've analyzed and thought through.
Too often, people speak without thinking or simply say nothing, whether out of fear or otherwise. However, be patient to speak.
Edit your thoughts. You wouldn't submit the first draft of an article for publication, so why would you subject those closest to you, and likely important to some degree for the measure of your success, to your raw thoughts?
Similarly, why wouldn't you share your thoughts with those closest to you and most influential to your success?
You need to let others see your views, and you need to be candid. You also need couth.
Before speaking, positively or negatively, pause to consider how the person(s) you're addressing will receive the information.
Be considerate of the receiver, and of your own integrity. Every word you say (or neglect to say) works to form others' views of you. I'd assume you want them to think highly of you.
To improve your communication skills today, begin expressing your thoughts candidly, with consideration for the receiver and your own integrity.
3. Know Who You're Speaking To.
No one understands everyone they come in contact with, but we're discussing tactics that can be implemented immediately.
It's very likely you know those you interact with most very well, and who you'll likely speak with by the end of the day.
You know their personality. You have an understanding for their likes, dislikes and motivations.
Use this knowledge as a mental FAQ sheet when speaking to or emailing them. Appeal to each person in their own tongue as much as possible.
This point may seem obvious, but addressing another as the speaker would prefer to be addressed, rather than as the receiver would prefer to be addressed, occurs far too often, and to such disastrous effects.
A simple way to think about it is that whenever you're communicating with someone, you're selling to this person.
When selling, you want the person to buy, so you appeal to that individual.
You know what appeals to those close to you, so "sell" this person as such.
To improve your communication skills today, speak to each person how you know he or she prefers to be addressed.
4. Read High-Quality Literature.
The old adage holds true: You put out what you take in. If you wish to better yourself, learn from those who are best.
When you walk into Barnes & Noble, you're immediately surrounded by hundreds of the world's best communicators.
Between the author(s), the publisher and their team of editors, nearly any book you choose has undergone dozens of revisions by people who've spent years studying and practicing the best communication skills to date.
The more you read, the more your communication resembles what you've read.
Whichever subjects you prefer to read about, read the best of that genre, and do so often.
To improve your communication skills today, begin reading more high-quality literature.
Like waiting for concrete to harden into a sidewalk, when we take the time to let our thoughts fully process, we construct better conversations.
Writing out thoughts by hand forces you to slow down. It also allows you to see what you are thinking, turning abstract into physical.
Writing is important because it trains you to think more articulately, and with more clarity.
You will naturally spend more time constructing what you say because it takes longer to write than to simply think.
As such, you will inevitably edit your thoughts more thoroughly before anyone hears what you have to say.
The more often you write before you speak, the better your communication will be.
To improve your communication skills today, write out your thoughts before sharing them.
6. Text More.
The key to being an effective communicator is being both clear and concise.
By communicating through text, you give yourself minimal room to work with, thereby forcing yourself to become more clear and concise.
Additionally, texting instead of emailing or calling can easily save you an hour or more of productivity each day.
To improve your communication skills today, utilize the natural efficiency of text messaging.
Following all six of these quick tips will lead to better results.
Implement these today, and reference this article as you work toward building great communication habits. Be sure to share this piece with those close to you.
This article was originally published on Kenneth's personal blog, TxtTrend.com, and can be found here.