Key Skills for Flexible Communication

In last month’s blog I wrote about flexible communication and how important it is to be aware of what makes other people tick. When you can see how other people are different to you, you can be more flexible and therefore more effective in all your communications.

You can use the following key skills to help you communicate better with people who tick differently from you:

  • Active listening – give the other person your full attention, ask open questions to broaden the conversation and closed questions to confirm. Listen to the answers!
  • Being clear and succinct – less is more. Start with a clear headline, use structured content and provide a short summary at the end of what you’ve covered.
  • Clarify and summarise – this is the best way to show that you are listening. Add lines like “So what you’re saying is …” using their language and echoing their words and phrases
  • Be present – be aware of your breath, switch off your internal chatter and tune into your feelings so that you can give the other person your full attention
  • Provide feedback – but always ask if it is wanted! Use a balance of positive and developmental feedback
  • Develop trust – be crystal clear about the actions that you will both take, setting achievable timescales. Do what you say you’re going to do and then tell the other person what you’ve done and when.

Living in a world where we’re all different can be challenging, but ultimately far more interesting and rewarding than if we were all the same. Think about what makes you tick and then fine tune your communication, depending on who you’re speaking or writing to. Develop a more flexible approach to your communication and you will be able to bridge the differences, no matter how wide they might be.

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