DENVER, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Financial service firms lose millions of dollars a year in sales and errors in employee miscommunication because managers have lost the fine art of effective communication, said Mary C. Kelly, Ph.D., an economist and leadership coach who presents keynote speeches and training sessions for financial services companies, associations, and conferences.
"Technology is wonderful in most areas of our life. Yet there are some aspects where using advanced technology for business communication may not be the best route," said Kelly, a retired military commander and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who has trained over 20,000 military and civilian personnel in multi-cultural environments all over the world in her 21-year active duty career.
"There are times at work when we miscommunicate because of technologically based assumptions. We assume that our emails went through, that our slides were attached, that the texts were received, or that the answering machine works," said Kelly, author of "360 Degrees of Leadership."
"As managers, we have to guard against misperceptions caused by miscommunication. Great communication skills go a long way to decrease frustration and increase productivity," said Kelly, an internationally acclaimed leadership expert and communication expert.
The founder of Productive Leaders (http://productiveleaders.com/) - a consulting and training firm that helps educational, government, and business organizations achieve their profit and productivity goals faster - offers seven verbal communication skills to produce better results in the workplace.
- Talk face-to-face. Get up and go have a conversation with someone, especially if there is a misunderstanding. Much of our communication today is done without even seeing the person who works just a short walk away. Just a five-minute conversation can help us understand that person's perspective and clarify responsibilities. At Zappos in Las Vegas, the boss has a cubicle along cubicle row like everyone else. They believe that close quarters encourage workers to share ideas with others around them, which includes the boss. If your co-workers are not within walking distance, pick up the phone.
- Provide clear information. Before you pass information on to others, make sure that it is accurate and complete. This sounds very basic, but when we assume that the other person knows what project we are referring to, we provide an avenue for a problem. If we aren't clear, we create confusion and communication breaks down.
- Ask questions. Asking for clarity is a sign of a great communicator. Never be afraid to ask questions to confirm that what you are hearing is the message the other person is conveying. Asking questions also tells the other person that you are listening, that you understand, and that you are solidifying what you have heard.
- Listen. Really listen with your whole body. Listen as you look at the other person and focus on what they are saying, not on your next meeting, your to-do list, or what you want to say next. Many times people are so quick to talk that they forget to listen. Good communication involves both verbalizing and active listening. In addition, when you are communicating with someone, let them know that you are listening with both your body language and responses such as, "Tell me more."
- Let others talk. We have all attended meetings where one person speaks, and no one else gets to voice their concerns or ideas. Leaders especially need to be mindful that they do not dominate meetings. If people perceive that the boss just wants an affirmation of his or her ideas and not an open, honest group discussion, employees will shut down. Silence does not mean acceptance or agreement. As one person commented, "Why would I end my career by criticizing the boss's ideas?" If people are not encouraged to express their opinions, the result is stifled ideas, resentment, and frustration. Listen to alternate opinions and encourage people to voice their thoughts.
- Honesty. People listen to people they trust. Honesty is still good policy (and it is easiest to remember). When information is shared honestly and respectfully, even bad news can be managed.
- Confirm completion. Close the communication loop. When you are communicating with someone at work, make sure to review each step clearly if it is a new procedure. You can also ask for confirmation when the work is accomplished. Ask that they close the loop by letting you know when the task was finished.
"It's great to use technology to our advantage, but sometimes we need to add a personal touch for a better outcome," said Kelly, a frequent TV and radio commentator.
SOURCE Mary C. Kelly