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Communicate with Awareness

The ability to effectively communicate is one of the most significant skills in our society today. People “talk” about communicating, but in the global world we live in and with today’s technology, it has a much broader scope than it did a decade ago. If we were to ask the multi-generations in the workplace what comes to mind when they think of communication, the differences would be astonishing.

When two people communicate, both will send, receive and interpret information based on their experiences, perceptions and ideas. This will occur even if they are listening to the same speaker or attending the same event. To effectively communicate, one can’t take for granted that the receivers and senders have the same reality or they will interpret messages as intended.

As a leader, one of the most valuable skills is the ability to verbally communicate clearly and be able to interpret non-verbal cues. Nonverbal communication is the single most powerful form of communication because it reveals what’s on a person’s mind more than what is actually spoken. Research shows that clues in the nonverbal “channels” of communication (HOW something is said) are often more important than words alone (WHAT is said).

Misinterpretation of nonverbal communication occurs when the message sender or receiver are not attentive or unfamiliar with the differences in their audience. Nonverbal cues range from facial expressions to body language. Gestures, signs and use of space are very important cues when communicating with people of multicultural differences. Listed below are some non-verbal gestures to be aware of:

  • Facial expressions

  • Eye contact

  • Posture

  • Hand and feet movements

  • Body movement and placement

  • Appearance

  • Passage as they walk towards you

Hand and feet movements

  • Body movement and placement

  • Appearance

  • Passage as they walk towards you

Paying attention to non-verbal gestures when leading a meeting or speaking to a group will cue when the speech or discussion is too long or when someone wants to speak. Lastly, there are three tips to remember in improving and maintaining good communication with others:

  • Messages should be clear and sharp.

  • Use repetition (tell them what you’re going to tell them; next, tell them; and then tell them what you told them)

  • Keep it simple

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