According to a University of Texas at Austin study, we speak on average approximately 16,000 words a day. Yet, we still don’t use these words effectively. In a world of cell phones, texting, tweeting, and emails, the need for effective communication has never been stronger than it is today. Many can barely remember what verbal communication actually is, let alone how to do it correctly. And while it is important to be able to communicate well through our devices, we need to remember how to speak professionally in face to face situations if we wish to survive and thrive.
“One of the biggest issues in the last five years is employees e-mailing instead of going to talk with, or at the very least picking up the phone to call, the person they need to communicate with,” says Patti Wood, professional speaker and trainer. “People don’t know how to make a request face to face and they avoid difficult or emotional conversations.”
“I will have college audience members say, ‘How do I start [and end] a phone call?’” Wood says. “They don’t know the dynamics of that. It’s that turn taking and initiating conversation, [which] is a skill set that you learn over time.”
The business and educational world are recognizing these problems. In a Wall Street Journal article, General Mills noted how their 50 or so MBA graduates hired yearly excel when it comes to data, but fall short when it comes to communicating their market research.
So how can you ensure that you are not falling into this category? For a start, try these three, seemingly simple yet effective tips:
- Before you email a colleague on a matter, stop and think. Can you go and speak to that person directly? Can you pick up the phone and call them? So much misunderstanding can be alleviated simply by talking face to face.
- Try initiating a conversation with a stranger, perhaps on the bus or while waiting for an appointment. You just never know who you will meet or what opportinities may arise. I have made many contacts and created many business relationships by simply opening up conversations with strangers.
- When socialising with friends and family, pay attention to how much time you spend looking at your phone/device. Create a timelimit to spend on your devices and when the times is used up simply put it away and pay attention to those around you.
As human beings, our only true method of connection is through authentic face to face communication. It’s only when we can hear a tone of voice, look into someone’s eyes are we truly able to apply or check the true meaning of words spoken.
Give it a go next time you’re tempted to communicate by texting, email or other electronic means. Try old fashioned face to face communication. Believe me, by simply taking the initiative to speak face to face with people you will create stronger connections, get far more insight from and enhance your effectiveness with customers, prospects, partners, management and team members when you have a face-to-face conversation with them.
And of course global communication is our speciality. Let us know if we can be of any assistance in developing your communication skills.