Leaders come in all shapes and sizes,- but regardless of industry or even job titles, they all need to have the same communication skills in order to be successful:
- Phone Etiquette (and texting!)
- Conflict Resolution
Having these three skills and being confident in them is something that transcends whatever your position may be at work and whoever you work with.
In every industry- from the cookie shop at the mall to the Fortune 500 on Wall Street- these three skills come into play on a daily basis. The mastery of these skills is what sets bosses and leaders apart.
a) Let’s begin with the easiest- PHONE ETIQUETTE.
Try to always smile while speaking on the phone. You have to remember that people can’t see you, and all they have to go by is your tone of voice. Even the slightest sense of monotony will be interpreted as boring or disengaged, which is never the vibe you want to go for on a work call. And don’t forget your manners- appropriate greetings, please-and-thank-you’s, and a definitive goodbye, so you both know when to hang up (nobody likes to be hung up on!).
Now in today’s society, texting is increasing in popularity- becoming the preferred method of communication. Here some key tips when drafting a text message:
- Send one message with your thought- do not blow up someone’s phone over one statement.
- Don’t abbreviate- no LOL’s, no TTYL’s
- Make sure your spelling is correct- REVIEW ALL AUTOCORRECTS.
- (this one can get very awkward, very fast!)
- Do not leave people on “Read.”
Having good manners on a work call or teleconference may be just the edge you need to stand out in the crowd and command the call in a respectful way. It seems old-fashioned, but I assure you that it is not.
Now, on to WRITING. People are consuming more and more text these days, via social media, the expansion of blogs and newsletters, online newspapers, you name it. As old school as it may sound, writing is more crucial than ever as access to the written word has never been more widespread. I strongly encourage leaders of any kind to learn to write and express themselves well. Try to think of it this way, does what you’ve written sound like something you would say? Try reading it out loud, and see if it sounds organic or conversational. Or better yet, does it even make sense?
The written word is meant to be persuasive, and a well-written email can take you farther than you’d ever expected. So learn to write well- it will help convey all your ideas and lessens the likelihood of you being misunderstood.
b) And it isn’t just about being expressive- grammar plays a big part in writing as well. Start with these simple steps to improve your Communication Skills:
- Check that everything is grammatically correct
- Use spell-check
- Make sure it looks clean and professional- so no mismatched fonts or weird sizing or formatting issues
Especially these days, you never know who might see what you’ve written. Maybe yours is the email that gets forwarded countless times and then published on a blog. Be prepared and set yourself up for success!
Lastly, but certainly not least- CONFLICT RESOLUTION. Resolving conflict takes a very specific kind of communication skill. It requires objectivity and rationale in times where that may be very difficult. Everyone resolves conflict differently, but the key is to hear all parties involved equally and to really analyze and investigate the situation. That means not giving in to “he said, she said,” making rash decisions, or sweeping conflicts under the rug in hopes that “time will heal all things.”
c) Effective conflict resolution should encompass the following:
- Addressing the conflict in a timely manner
- Speaking with all parties in a calm and clear way (not combative, nor indifferent),
- Investigating the issue
- Issuing a resolution that is as beneficial and reparative as possible
Being able to keep a level head in times like these are crucial to running a business. And it isn’t applicable solely to internal conflict, but external conflict as well. So, if you work in customer service in any form, this is a huge one for you. The same process may be implemented when handling conflicts with customers, suppliers, or anyone else your team may come into contact with. As a leader, it is up to you to take charge in difficult situations and get ahead of any conflict as it occurs.
Working with people will always have its conflicts- that is simply the nature of the beast. But resolving these conflicts in a professional way and communicating appropriately with all parties is essential to being a successful and influential leader.
There are all things that require minimal effort (just a whole lot of conscientiousness) and will greatly impact your performance as a leader and your overall work environment.
Great Communication Skills are the glue that holds all businesses together- from how your team interacts with each other every day to how they interact with your customers and even how others perceive your business.
As a leader, the example you set is a great one. Take charge and work on your own communication skills so that those around you are inspired to do the same. And help them get there! The better you can communicate, the better your entire organization will be. But it all starts with you.