The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is a vital competency for great engineers.
We’ve shown you how to communicate better with managers, colleagues, employees, and clients or external parties.
But improving your communication skills is not an overnight process. In order to hone in on great communication skills, you must make an effort to regularly practice good communication habits.
We created a list of nine tactics you can use right now to improve your communication skills. Use this comprehensive checklist before entering a meeting, sending an email or picking up the phone to guarantee bulletproof communication.
1. Keep Communication Brief, Clear, and To The Point
You and your boss are likely both busy people. The quicker you are able to relay your purpose for communicating, the less time you’ll waste. Keep in mind the various channels of communication used daily in offices and their appropriate place, time and tone:
- Phone call
- Direct message (IM)
- Informal, in-person discussion
- Scheduled meeting
Would changing the communication medium make your message clearer? Does the other party prefer a certain communication channel? If you’re not sure, ask your boss or colleagues which channel they prefer.
Is there a simpler way to express your thought? If so, use it. Like Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Don’t confuse your message with vague language. Focus on each individual point, and say exactly what you need and when you need it.
Write these down before jumping on the phone. Or, hit pause before you send an email or message. Reread it. As you proofread, ask yourself how you could say it simpler.
3. Use Visual Aids
Clarify complex topics by leveraging visual aids. Diagrams, drawings and photos all help to communicate large amounts of information quickly and clearly.
4. Remove Distractions
Make sure you are fully attentive toward another party when communicating in person, on the phone or online. Maintain eye contact, close your phone and computer, close the door or close your browser tabs so you can focus on the task at hand: communicating clearly.
5. Always Clarify
Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification about anything you don’t fully understand. Doing so upfront will save time later as you attempt to decipher what is being asked of you.
6. Take Notes
Taking notes goes hand-in-hand with listening. Do so when in a meeting, formal or informal. You’ll have a better understanding of what someone is trying to say, along with a better chance of remembering it later.
7. Check Your Body Language
As you work to build your confidence, it’s important to avoid mannerisms that signal uncertainty. Slumped shoulders, a shaky voice or lack of eye contact are all signs of a lack of confidence, and if you’re exhibiting them you’re likely not communicating clearly and concisely.
Instead, sit up straight, hold your head up, and pronounce words loudly and clearly. Confidence not only improves the delivery of your message, but also enhances clarity.
8. Write Down What You Want to Say Before Speaking
Unclear thoughts lead to miscommunication and confusion. To prevent this, try writing down what you want to say beforehand. This will help put your thoughts in order and help you identify where you might be vague or unclear.
9. Ask Colleagues for Feedback on Your Communication Skills
Seek feedback from employees, managers and even clients to check how well your communication habits work. Feedback will give you a benchmark from which to start improving and provide those whom you interact with the opportunity to clarify and highlight issues as needed.
The best part? Seeking feedback is a constructive and healthy way to communicate your desire to improve.
Have something to add to this checklist? Comment below to share your thoughts with your fellow engineering peers.
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Image Source: AJ Cann via Flickr