Good Communication: What It Means and Why It Matters
“Good communication skills”. This is something I often read on people’s CV’s for any role they’re applying for at Spidertracks. That’s because it is crucial to any position where people are involved. Without these, you and your team's daily worlds became twice as hard. But what does it even mean? Who defines “good communication skills," and who says the individual has them?
Often, language is the first area people think of when considering “good communication.” Proficiency in the company's home language might be sought after. Does this then mean competency is across verbal, written and listening communication? But why should this be a first consideration when verbal only forms 7% of communication. Non-verbal broken into 55% for body language and 38% for tone of voice, makes up the rest.
As remote working becomes easier and more common-place, so have virtual meetings. Grooming, 1-1's, business dev meetings and interviews often take place virtually. How have we adapted our communication skills to this different way of interacting? Is it something we are even conscious of? With nuances lost by the absence of proximity and addition of pixels, how can we convey our message?
Camera-on is a need for me 90% of the time. If having a 1-1 it is my only request. If in a many person meeting requiring input from all, the same goes. If I’m more of an observer than a participant then I close my camera off. I recognise that by doing so I am depriving the owner of the meeting of any non-verbal feedback I'm sharing. This can have a large impact on their performance and delivery during that session. Whether we are aware or not, we look for cues from others' faces / body language when talking. If we’re observant, it can help determine the level of detail that should be provided. It will determine the pace required and the success in which the message is being received. We give others feedback all the time even if not verbal. Feedback is information that can help steer the other person. This is achieved by non-verbal communication as well as verbal.
So what makes someone a good communicator and how is this measured?
Imagine if message delivery was rated in the same way you do after your Uber ride? Efficiency might be a consideration, like Uber delivery also. Would the receiver's feelings come into play? A message might be understood quickly, but nature shatters their confidence. I wouldn’t call this successful. Like problem-solving, there is an art to “good communication.” It requires thought, care and planning. Your audience and the outcome you desire need careful consideration beforehand. But we’re busy individuals and we tend to rush from one commitment to the next. The previous interaction is rarely contemplated, before the next appears on the horizon. We think in real time which isn’t the way many of us operate at our best. We are unprepared and mislead our audience at the cost of time and the loss of other's attention. And if we’re the receiver, do we stop to reflect on what we’ve heard to ensure that was the deliverer's intent? Why, when we live in a world where communication is at its easiest, do we give it the lowest priority in our daily lives? It is crucial to the success of everything.
Next time you interact with someone, take a moment beforehand to get your head in tune with the coming topic. Consider what you want out of the interaction and how might the receiver best hear your message. Afterwards, check with the person they’ve heard your intended message. Ask them to summarise and notice the difference the preparation beforehand made. Your message should now have been efficient and care for the receiver evident. I know I don’t always practise this method but the times I do, I find it's worth it for me, for us.
This is us.