Improve Your Communication

7 Ways to Improve Your Communication

EAPJuly 28, 2017

As a Community Health Coordinator, I have the privilege of working with Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), helping companies across West Central Ohio connect to this service. In the process, I’ve learned a lot about the different ways that EAP can benefit an organization. I always knew EAP was a great resource for employees and families going through difficult times, but I was surprised to find out how much EAP can also help in the professional arena. From workplace conflicts to career growth, EAP provides guidance and resources to help employees succeed.

As it turns out, I’m one of those employees! I’ve been working to improve my communication skills – to more effectively share my thoughts, feelings, and ideas. As if reading my mind, EAP sent me a new resource, which included 7 tips for improving my communication. Because these tips helped me so much, I’d like to share them with you!

1. Connect.

Create an emotional connection to every person you engage in conversation. Use body language, verbal utterances, and word choices that put you on the same level as this person. Friendly facial expressions also matter. (If you think about it, you naturally create this connection with children – getting down on their level, speaking in a calm voice, and using words they understand.)

2. Ask open-ended questions.

Avoid “yes” or “no” questions. Ask questions that require a real answer, because they provide an opportunity for discussion. You’ll learn more about the person you’re talking to and give him or her a chance to explain their point of view.

3. Summarize.

Repeat the important parts of a conversation back to the person, and let them fill in some of the details. Use phrases like “So what you’re saying is…” or “What I’m hearing is…” This guarantees you’re on the same page, and it also confirms that you’re interested and understand the other person’s perspective.

4. Reflect emotions.

Start by acknowledging emotions, especially in tense or difficult situations. For example, say “I can see you’re upset about this.” Ignoring people’s feelings will make them feel small and unimportant. Showing you understand their emotions (even if you don’t agree) will decrease tension and help the person open up.

5. Don’t jump to conclusions.

It’s easy to start crafting a response before someone has even finished talking. Try not to do this. Listen carefully to everything a person is saying, then think before you reply.

6. Stay focused.

Show the person that you’re paying attention: nod as they speak and make eye contact. Don’t look at your phone or computer. (And definitely don’t keep working.) If you’re in a group, try to talk with one person at a time.

7. Listen more than you speak.

This isn’t always easy to do, but it’s definitely worthwhile. When talking to another person, try to listen at least 50% of the time. Don’t be afraid to pause and think about what you’re going to say, instead of responding rapid-fire.

I hope these tips will strengthen your communication skills and benefit you daily. (Like they have me!) If you’re interested in learning more about Employee Assistance Programs, please give our office a call at 419-226-9085.