Recently I’ve noticed that people often don’t speak in a manner that supports clear communication.  They leave hurried phone messages that are practically unintelligible, they mumble behind their hand, look down at the table at meetings or  look anywhere but at you when speaking to you.   It seems as if they’re not really sure they want to talk to you, which can be a real turn-off.   And given the diversity in the workplace and the variety of languages, dialects and accents we encounter everyday, it really is important that we speak to be understood.

People often tell me that one of the biggest problems they deal with in the workplace is how to handle “difficulty people”.  They tell me that they have trouble getting and keeping people’s attention, getting them to understand the situation or their request and in gaining their support and getting their buy-in for things like new projects.  Yet on taking a closer look we often discover that there is an underlying issue of poorly executed communication.  The ability to connect with people and influence them depends on your communication abilities, and skilled communication starts with speaking so others can understand what you’re saying.

Here are 4 quick and simple tips to foster clearer communication that will help you connect to people.

1)  Make eye contact with the person you are talking to, although his doesn’t mean you stare at them without blinking.  If you’re in a group move your gaze from person to person, connecting with each one for a few moments before moving to the next person .

2)  Speak clearly, pronouncing each word carefully without dropping the endings or running words together.

3)  Speak to the other person directly, not your hand , the table or the ground.

4)  Let others finish before you start to speak – don’t try to talk over others.  This is especially important in meetings.  You won’t accomplish anything productive if you’re all trying to talk at one.

Seems simple enough, right?  Yet you’d be surprised how often I see these four simple actions ignored and conversations failing to produce the desired result.

So why not make a commitment right now to incorporate these four simple actions into your day to day interactions with others.  While there are many more things you can do to improve your chances of successful communication, these four are a good place to start.

Until next time – THRIVE on! :-)

Karen Switzer-Howse

Canada’s Premier Thrive Synergy Strategist