5 Tips for Effective Communication
Q: How can I communicate more effectively?
Communicating effectively is a skill most of us have to work hard on early in our careers.
Maybe you’ve had feedback that you need to improve your communication style or you feel like you're not getting your point across in meetings 🤦.
Despite this being a common challenge many of us face, knowing how to actually get better at communicating is not always clear and straightforward.
So, we recently took to LinkedIn to get the best tips and advice for communicating more effectively. Enjoy!
1. Put the answer first
We often tell stories with the punchline at the end.
However at work, it’s often much more effective, and better for everyone (especially your time-poor managers and leaders 😴) to put the answer first and up-front.
This is true when sending emails, on Slack and Teams, and during presentations.
By putting the answer first, if everyone is already aligned, you can move on the next decision quickly without having to get into the details. This makes for many 2 minute discussions, rather than wasteful 30 minute meetings.
Think of this like an Executive Summary but for your conversation.
In cases where everyone isn’t aligned, then spend the time you need on the rationale and go through the details.
Note: this way of communicating is usually referred to as The Pyramid Principle or a Minto Pyramid, and is a key ingredient in creating compelling, well-structured arguments in problem solving.
2. Be silent for 7 seconds
The 7 second rule is magical. Especially in workshops and virtual settings.
If you want to bring others into the discussion, stop talking and embrace the awkward silence. This is especially useful if some of your team members are particularly quiet.
Don’t say anything for 7 seconds 🙊. Just wait.
You'll be surprised how keen people are to fill this void, and how effective the silence is in drawing other team members into the discussion.
This works because you need to give people time to process and to think about how they want to respond. This takes a moment.
3. Increase frequency to manage tricky stakeholders
Do you have a difficult manager or co-worker? Do you tend to find you're not on the same page?
Remember that the more time between communications, the greater the potential for misalignment.
So the best way to manage your tricky stakeholders is with regular, proactive communication.
Frequent communications such as weekly updates help to build trust, reduce uncertainty and create 'push', rather than 'pull', giving you more space and time to focus on your work rather than responding to requests.
Interested in learning how to effectively negotiate with your stakeholders? Check out Negotiating For Yourself.
4. Give ‘no update’ updates
Building on the above, sometimes when giving regular updates you might find that you don’t have much to share.
This is okay. Don’t underestimate the value of the ‘no update’ update.
Sticking with your regular update schedule, even when there might not be new information, is a valuable way to build and keep trust and let people know that they’re in the loop, so they don’t need to chase you up.
Just remember to keep your ‘no update’ updates short and succinct.
5. Chose curiosity over clash
Often when we find ourselves in a disagreement, our automatic response is to double-down on our point and get defensive.
Take a pause and fight this temptation.
Instead, try to be curious of the other side’s perspective and genuinely understand their point of view.
Try to respond with something like: “I never thought about it exactly that way before. What can you share that would help me see what you see?” - Julia Dhar. Check out the video below.
To become a more effective communicator,
- Put the answer first
- Be silent for 7 seconds
- Increase frequency to manage tricky stakeholders
- Give 'no update' updates, and
- Chose curiosity over clash
Hit us up if you have any feedback, insights or questions you want answered!
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