Category: Soft Skills

Do You Speak Your Mind

The business world is rapt with a lot of discussions today about how organisations need to move towards a culture of open conversations. Organisations are streamlining efforts to foster a culture of dialogue – interpersonal, intrapersonal, inter-group, and intra-group and cross functional bridging hierarchical barriers. But what happens when two people indulge in conversations is just the tip of the iceberg.

When you speak to someone irrespective of how emotionally close you may be, you only reveal a fraction of what you want to say. Most of the information lies hidden behind the facade of emotions, situations, environment, people and relationships. Being unaware of the hidden or leaving it unnoticed may lead to dire consequences and might even lead to the purpose of the conversation getting diluted.

The more we are able to unravel what is below the range of visibility the better we become in the art of communication. The only way to do this is to sharpen our understanding of the hidden – both in ourselves and in the people we communicate with. The more we train ourselves in deciphering this, the more likely we are to have conversations that involve true empathy, mutual learning, and we will realise that barriers don’t exist.

We all have conversations where we feel that we could have put the message across better. Many times after speaking you feel that there was something missing, but cannot pin-point what that exactly was. A lot of times our mood gets the better of us and we end up hearing passively instead of listening actively or you are unable to articulate your message as effectively as you should. These problems arise because we undermine the importance of communication skills – communication skills are not only about how to communicate but also what to communicate and more importantly what not to communicate.

Self-awareness plays an influential role in developing meaningful conversations. The more aware we are of ourselves, the more we will realise the extent of correlation in  our innermost feelings and that will open the doors to better management of extreme emotions like anger or fear. This will help us express ourselves better because we get to connect to our thoughts, needs and wants. This is the foundation stone for understanding others.

As we build that “never – easy” connection to our emotions, we decipher them better and use them to carry on conversations with others. People who have higher Emotional Intelligence also tend to have better control over their verbal and non-verbal behaviour and exhibit confidence and ease in their kinesics.  This is because somewhere we are able to put a full stop to that internal “commentary” we have always been having when we speak to someone else.

If you have felt that emotions should not be carried to workplace but, end up finding that they follow you like your own shadow,  maybe it’s time to introspect.

Filed under: Soft Skills

6 Ways To Ensure Ethical Business Communication

Ethical questions pervade all aspects of business environment today. The communication process being an integral part of any business environment must therefore also consider ethics.

We know that Communication must result in an understanding response. At every stage of the communication process we must make decisions on how to make it more effective. Ethical communication ensures transparency in communication and a greater trust between the sender and the receiver, which in turn lead to effective communication.

Another benefit of Ethical communication is better relationships and rapport. Ethical communication results in goodwill both within and outside the organization. People generally prefer to deal with organizations that are perceived to be ethical.

So here are 6 ways of ensuring ethical communication are:

  • Provide Correct and Complete Information – Withholding crucial information can damage business relationships and public image of the company. Information is important and proper information should be provided to all stakeholders – be it clients, customers or employees.
  • Lay Down Rules – Having a well-defined ethical system within the organization helps. Let people know that ethical issues are taken seriously by the organization. This will instill awareness towards ethical questions. There are less chances of going wrong if policies towards critical issues like Ethics are laid down in black and white.
  • Say what you Mean – Overpromising is a quick way to lose your ethical standing. Don’t over promise to either external people or employees. Communication should always reflect clearly what you want to communicate. Hiding behind the garb or ambiguity will do your organization no good.
  • Don’t Burn Bridges – Take care while drafting any communication to not offend the reader, this goes both for internal and external communication. The idea behind effective communication is to build relationships and rapport. This cannot be done if your message offends the reader. Even negative communication like rejecting a job applicant can be done in a polite manner.
  • Uphold Human Rights – Ethical communication is not just about providing correct and accurate information, it is also about keeping in mind human rights and upholding human dignity. Freedom of speech and sensitivity towards social issues like women’s equality, child abuse etc. should be kept in mind while drafting any message.
  • Be Culturally Sensitive – Being culturally sensitive is also crucial. Understand and respect the value systems of different cultures.

Ethical communication is an important tenet of communication. The BizComm Module of Strengthscape delves into Ethics and various other aspects of communication.

Filed under: Communication Skills

5 Tips To Improve Your Communication Skills

What are Communication Skills?

Basic Communication skills are a skill that everyone can learn. It is like riding a bicycle or typing. According to Brian Tracy, ‘If you are willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life’.

Have you ever wondered how old is this communication system? No!

It is as old as the evolution of mankind. But, if we compare it to our present communication it is not the most effective way of communication. Effective communication skills are important for organizations to grow these days. It is important in our social life as well as workplace to get our ideas across to our clients and colleagues. Some important tips of improving communication skills can be listed as:

[1] Listen more, talk less

  • Communication is a two-way process, in which both the speaker and the listener need to be actively involved.
  • Everyone wants to be heard. To be an effective listener you need to maintain an eye- contact with the speaker, do not judge them and be patient.
  • Do not have a divided attention.
  • It is important that you decode and interpret the message the same manner the speaker wants you to. For this you should try to put yourself in their position and understand them.
  • Ask questions to the speaker to ensure that you have understood them.
  • Remove all distractions and do not let anyone interrupt you.
  • Give the speaker sufficient time to explain them and do not interrupt until they invite you or take a pause.
  • Make a few notes so that you can use it later.

[2] Body language

  • Every gesture has a different meaning in different cultures. It is important to make a note for the cultural differences if travelling to a different nation.
  • Always smile when you meet new people as it makes you attractive and trustworthy, along with improving your health and stress levels.
  • Always offer a firm handshake, as it is a symbol of confidence.
  • Do not keep your hands folded against your chest as it shows disinterest.
  • Use power poses to reduce stress levels and increase testosterone levels. This will make you feel more confident and powerful.
  • While meeting people avoid keeping hands in pockets.
  • Dress appropriately for the situation. Avoid ill-fitted dresses, as they will make you feel down.
  • You should avoid scratching your neck, nose or eyebrows. Fidgeting is a sign of anxiety and nervousness and shows lack of confidence in us.

[3] 7C’s of effective communication

  • Completeness- Try to provide all the information which is required along with some extra information.
  • Conciseness- The message should be able to convey the thoughts using fewest words with all relevant information.
  • Consideration- Always keep in mind the target group for whom the message is being written.
  • Concreteness- The message should be specific for a particular audience, not general.
  • Clarity- The message should be clear and receiver should be able to understand it easily. Use familiar and easy words for this.
  • Courtesy- We should not only be aware of the perspective of others, but also their feeling. Be polite in your message for it to be effective.
  • Correctness- The message should not contain any grammatical or vocabulary errors. The facts and figures used should be accurate.

[4] Picking the right medium

  • It is important to select the right medium of communicating a message.
  • Serious conversations like layoffs, changes in salary, etc. should be done in person.
  • If you wish to speak to a person who is very busy, you should convey your message through email and take appointment.
  • If making a telephonic call or video call, ensure that there is no disturbance in the connection as well as you do not have any distractions.

[5] Feedback

  • Give feedback to your employees through emails or phone calls on regular basis.
  • Ask for your feedback from your sub-ordinates and colleagues.
  • It will enhance productivity and help in identifying the problems.
  • It will be helpful in creating a healthy environment in the organization along with motivating the employees.

These are a few ways which can help you enhance your communication skills. These tips of effective communication can help us perceive the world and work miracles, and change our lives.

Filed under: Communication Skills

Internal Commentary Decoded

A lot of conversations at workplace follow similar pattern- huge gaps between the purpose of the conversation and the outcome.The ones within brackets indicate the internal commentary that the boss had throughout the conversation with his subordinate. The internal conversation that he had with himself is what derailed the actual conversation because the boss wasn’t sure about how he would be taken if he tried to point out his subordinate’s flaw.

This is a solid case of emotional disconnect.

  • Boss: “ Hey, its been a great effort by your team. I’m sure that you will do wonders with this project that you have undertaken. Feel free to meet me in case of any issues.“( I hope he has got the message that there are issues he has, where he needs to take feedback from me)
  • Subordinate : “ Sure. We were all confident that we had done a great job. I’m sure we’ve all put in our best.” ( Boss: Oh God, what is he saying now? I thought he felt and understood he needs to improve his performance.)
  • Boss: “Well maybe we can look at some better ideas for better outcomes.” ( I better be open about his issues or else it might be too late.)?
  • Subordinate : “ I don’t think this is the right time because as of now our hands are full and we do not want to take up any more work.” ( Boss: Who was talking about extra work for the team here?)

Many negative emotions and thoughts come to our mind, it is these uninvited thoughts that prevent us from expressing our true feelings. The fact that we may be misjudged or lose our face or even be yelled at, keeps pestering us in every conversation with the result that we end up conveying an entirely wrong message.

The other aspect of this self–talk is trying to generalize or stereotype based on previous experiences either with the same person or someone similar to him. To escape from the discomfort of having to face the harsh reality of our beliefs or thoughts being wrong, we semi consciously thrust them into the back burner and say what we feel we should and not what we want to say. The result is that we refrain from asking the right questions and end up with just a set of wrong answers with no clue on how to move on.

This stems from the fact that we have all been taught to follow certain prescribed norms of social behaviour. From early childhood we have been sensitised repeatedly that anything away from it might result in rejection. The fear of being shunned socially is the biggest obstacle to overcome, and there is no better way to do this than to be emotionally intelligent. People with higher levels of emotional intelligence can express their beliefs and judgments better because they have confidence in themselves and hence turn out to be superior workplace communicators.

The BizComm Program of Strengthscape covers various nuances of business communication.

Filed under: Soft Skills

4 Reasons Why Language Skills Are A Must-Have For Employability

You may be a fresher looking out for gaining an entry into the corporate world. You could be someone in the early or mid- managerial level looking for a change of job. Or you could be scouting for a leadership position. Irrespective of your education, background or experience, the first impression in a job interview is created by your communication prowess.

Today’s job market requires people who can draft clean and crisp e-mails, deliver great presentations and be great team players. All of the above require great language skills and that includes good comprehension, vocabulary and grammar in the English language.

Why is communication so important?

Trust is built through communication.

  • It is important to trust the people and the organisation you work for. The extent of trust that an employee has on an employer and the brand determines the level of engagement and satisfaction. Productive employees are found to be high on organisational citizenship.
  • Every message that is delivered to an employee should be drafted with utmost care and interpersonal communication within hierarchies as well as between functional areas are crucial to trust building. Recruiters realise the role that communication plays in building organisational trust and hence focus on whether a prospective candidate can build trust through communication.

Teams are built through communication.

  • Team building is no simple task. Though there are innumerable components that go into building a cohesive team the common thread is communication. The “Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team” which is a popular assessment tool for team cohesion lists out five ingredients of a cohesive team – trust, healthy conflict, commitment, accountability and results.
  • The common thread that binds all the five is communication which is a basic requisite for building trust, fostering healthy conflicts, achieving commitment, creating accountability and delivering results. In teams both intrapersonal and interpersonal communication is crucial.

Simplified communication gives better clarity to goals.

  • The key to goal setting is simple and easy to understand communication.
  • Goals should be defined in short sentences, minimal usage of jargons and language that is easy to understand.
  • Simplicity leads to focus which in turn increases clarity of purpose and minimises confusion.
  • Complex communication creates discomfort and leads to distrust.
  • People generally do not follow instruction which they perceive as double speak.

Insensitive or biased communication leads to adversities.

  • As the world shrinks into a single market culturally sensitive communication is a mandate. Loaded statements, biased remarks or insensitive comments can lead to major issues at the workplace.
  • Today’s recruiter looks for not just great communication but also for cultural sensitivity.  It is important to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences that make each individual unique and to adapt communication accordingly.
  • The Central Test Business English Test can help interviewers evaluate the language skills of a respondent during the recruitment process. The test evaluates an individual on his or her comprehension skills, vocabulary and grammar and has got specific focus on business communication.

Have you tried Central Test Assessments?

Filed under: Language Skills

Mastering The Art Of Small Talk

When we talk about Communication Skills most people only think of effective speaking, listening and writing skills. In all this we forget a very important aspect of business communication – Small Talk. So what is Small Talk and why do I need to master this art?

Filed under: Communication Skills

Cracking The Interview Code

Have you ever encountered a situation when after an interview you felt that the job was yours but received a rejection letter a few days later?

Interviews like any other personal interaction are subjective. Personal choices are different about everything and this applies to people as well. It is this subjective nature of interviews that makes them difficult to crack. However, some simple tips can assist you in creating the right impression more often than not.

Filed under: Recruitment Tips

5 Tips For Overcoming Stage Fright

Stage Fright or fear of public speaking can take a lot away from your professional life! It can make day to day tasks daunting and sometimes even impossible. Imagine seizing up every time you have to make a presentation or even speak at a meeting. Surprisingly even some seasoned speakers suffer from stage fright!

Filed under: Soft Skills