8 Tools to Improve Communication

When you’re dealing with new relationships, there are many barriers to effective communication.  There are many ways to improve communication, these 8 have been consistently successful:

  1. Empathy.  What does your colleague want?  The more you can understand their desires, the better you will be at forging a good working relationship.
  2. Video chat.  Phones are great.  However, if your counterpart can use Skype, Facetime or some other face-to-face method to speak, it is easier to build rapport.  It is easier for those communicating outside of their native language to be understood.  If your colleague is confused – you can see it in their face.  Find ways to be face to face.
  3. Meeting notes.  Type notes during a call.  Summarize action steps at the top when you’re done.  Share those notes to everyone by email.
  4. 24 hours to confirm meeting notes.  Non native speakers may not have fully understood the language as it happened!  Especially in English – we can sometimes speak to fast.  Give your colleagues time to read and confirm understanding.
  5. Preparation.  Prioritize and focus on what you must get across to your colleagues.  Don’t waste time with unimportant items.  If it is an early meeting – go so far as to try to avoid asking questions.  Focus on delivering the message most important to you and identifying the message most important to them.
  6. Focus.  Make your goals clear.  If you are sharing slides – use short, focused communication.  Avoid messages that require nuance early in the relationship – focus on building a big picture foundation with clear, easy goals.
  7. Photos, diagrams and other visuals.  Use visuals that support what you are discussing.  If you’re in manufacturing, use photos of the item you are discussing.  If a flow chart is relevant, use [4] to prepare it and make sure it is clear.
  8. Build from strength.  If you’re finding that some things work better than others – then focus on building from strength.  In a past business, regional focus on certain technologies meant some approaches to quality statistics were really good.  That domain wasn’t something I knew well, but the work product around these questions was always great.  By focusing on an area where we had rapport and there was domain expertise, we could use that strength to expand our productivity to other areas.

About flybrand1976

Find me on twitter @flybrand.
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