7 Steps to Stronger Communication

Strong communication is the foundation upon which all lasting relationships are built. In the workplace, strong communication leads to more engaged employees, decreased turnover rate, and improved overall performance. But if all these benefits sound great, then why is modern communication so difficult?

Today's corporate environments are dominated by email, chat apps, and other forms of screen-to-screen communication. As a result, people are more disconnected with the needs and desires of even their closest peers.

Bringing strong communication back to your workplace starts with these 7 helpful steps:

1. Listen, listen, listen.

We all like to hear ourselves talk — it's just part of the human condition. However, if you want to establish stronger communication, you must put that instinct on hold. Show your team you can be a good listener, and don't just wait for them to speak up. Show you're interested by asking questions and posing ideas, and be sure to remember what people say so you can refer to it later on.

The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.
— Stephen Covey

2. View communication as a craft.

When it comes to communication, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Effective leaders recognize different communication styles and are well-versed at adapting to them. Consider each employee relationship as a fresh start; don't make any assumptions about how you think they may communicate. Instead, use your intuition and newfound listening skills to understand how they best learn and interact.

Communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life.
— Tony Gaskins

3. Practice and seek improvement.

Like any great skill, strong team communication requires practice. You should always seek to improve the ways in which you express your feelings during stressful, challenging, or even awkward situations — this is a normal part of self-improvement. As a leader, you're responsible for improving your line of communication with every employee. Anytime you notice an instance of miscommunication, try to reflect on that situation to see what can be improved for next time.

Communication works for those who work at it.
— John Powell

4. Adjust your style to the situation.

All effective communicators have one thing in common: adaptability. Being adaptable to other people's needs and desires allows you to communicate with people more effectively. This requires a certain level of mindfulness; being mindful of how other people are feeling, and of how other people are responding to your thoughts and ideas.

5. Put relationships first.

Effective leadership depends on strong relationships. Meaning, you need to prioritize relationships with employees, managers, and other peers above everything else. Many leaders tend to neglect their relationships when they're under stress and pressure. But this is in fact one of the most important times you need your relationships, because it's when you most need the help and support of your peers.

6. Provide feedback in private.

Nobody wants their mistakes and flaws to be shared with the world. But sometimes, when leaders are poor communicators, they provide criticism to an employee in front of their peers. This leads to disrespect towards the leader, and it also causes fear of that leader. If you want your employees to trust you, try providing feedback only in private, and only when it is constructive and well deliberated.

7. If you are more powerful, show restraint.

Leaders often underestimate the power and strength with which their team views them. Your team is constantly looking to you for guidance and as a result, you must guide them humbly yet firmly. Act with gentleness and grace, as this is more powerful than any shout or scream will ever be.

Often a leader’s whisper is a scream to their team.

What communication techniques have you found help your relationship with your team? Please add to the conversation—comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.