Good communication is essential to collaboration and finding success as a team. Team members who understand each others' communication styles can work together more efficiently and lessen the risk of conflict. Effective communication within a team builds a common purpose allowing the team to reach its goals. So what is effective communication, and what steps can we take to be good communicators and encourage others around us to become better communicators too?
To communicate effectively, consider your body language and non-verbal communication cues. Let others know you are present and engaged by angling your body towards the speaker or audience with an open posture, maintaining eye contact and using facial expressions to convey your interest.
Verbal communication, such as pitch and tone, should be carefully matched to the situation. Consider your audience and tailor the content of what you say to suit, selecting appropriate language and register. You'll know if you have it right or need it as your audience will let you know; remember, "The meaning of communication is the response you get!"
There are five widely acknowledged communication styles, Assertive, Passive, Manipulative, Aggressive, and Passive-Aggressive.
The most effective communication style in business is Assertive. To be an Assertive Communicator, you need to be confident in the value of your contributions and conviction in your opinion. Assertive Communicators convey their point of view with clarity, calmness and positivity. They are neither passive nor aggressive and speak without demands, blame or criticism.
Assertive Communicators actively listen and are open to adjusting their opinion based on the knowledge of others. They consider the points of view of others and are solutions-orientated, looking for win-win solutions, and presenting them with confidence.
Encourage others to become better Communicators
Manipulative, Aggressive, and Passive-Aggressive communication styles are toxic and destructive, developing resentment in others. Communicating with people with these harmful communication styles is difficult; it requires mindfulness and skill. Never match toxic communication in the same manner. Where possible, try and understand why they are adopting a particular communication style and find strategies to mitigate and turn it around. For example, consider using passive communication to soften the situation when communicating with an aggressive client. In business meetings, poisonous communication styles are best met with a composed and confident approach. Listen and clarify their message by rephrasing it in an assertive manner.
Assertive communicators can also use their skills to encourage passive communicators to engage in the conversation by giving them time to contribute, actively listening to their opinion and responding to the positive aspects of it. Doing so can build their confidence and allow them space to develop into better communicators.