Improve Your Admin/Support Communication Skills
The most successful professionals in administrative jobs network, speak clearly and write effectively. So now it's time for the master class to attain a higher level of communication expertise. These tips will guide you.
Manage the Message
Regardless of the situation, always communicate with respect, advises Ronnie Moore, author of Why Did I Say That? Communicating to Keep Your Credibility, Your Cool and Your Cash! That means considering others’ needs while keeping your cool. Try to:
- Identify the kind of information the person likes. Does she want just the facts? Does he like anecdotes? Providing information in the other person’s preferred style of communication will make your words more effective.
- Focus on issues, not the person attached to them. No matter how angry you are or he is, attacking the issue instead of the person is the only way to be successful.
- If this individual is a regular part of your working life, find out if he prefers email, phone or speaking in person. “Even troublesome people appreciate being asked how they would like to receive communication,” Moore notes.
Communicate Across Cultures
Cultural and language barriers can break down communication faster than a pileup at rush hour -- and do as much damage. To communicate well with people of other cultures, follow this advice from Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works:
- Speak slowly, not loudly. Raising the volume rarely makes someone understand you better.
- Assume nothing, and be specific. You may know how things work, but not everyone does. So give them the details you take for granted.
- Consider written communication instead. Email can be read repeatedly before responding, which increases comprehension. But if you go that route, pick up the phone periodically so your tone can be more easily understood.
- Mind your manners. When all else fails, say thank you and sorry when needed.
Convey Complicated Ideas
Moore recommends signposting, or organizing information into smaller segments and listing those segments by number. This helps set listeners’ expectations for information and ensures your message is being received. It looks something like this:
Here are four ways to contact me while I am attending the conference:
3. hotel number
4. convention office number.
“You'll be amazed at how effective signposting can be,” Moore says. “If you promise four and you communicate only three, the listener will probably remind you that he or she was expecting more.”
Make Communication (Inter)Personal
With the advent of email, it’s easy to minimize face-to-face interactions. You may feel that staying at your desk and communicating electronically or by telephone makes you more efficient. But it has a cost.
Isolating yourself hinders your ability to be a truly effective communicator, says Peter Handel, chairman, president and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training. “Avoid the overuse of email,” he advises. “Instead, request regular face-to-face meetings.”
Why meet face-to-face? For one thing, it’s hard to gauge tone from an email. For another, people like to be able to look you in the eye occasionally and check out your body language. It’s human nature. As a result, “the human interaction allows for clearer and stronger communication,” Handel says.
Convey Your Image
And let’s not forget the importance of unspoken communication. Do you know what your workplace attire is saying about you?
Consider this example from April Masini, an author and image expert: “If you work at a creative ad agency where selling the next new black is your currency, a navy serge suit with a conservative haircut could turn Mr. Conservative into Mr. Out-of-Work. The same is true for a bank employee wearing a neck full of bling with grills to match. Context is everything.”
The Benefits of Better Communication
Improving your communication skills has a serious upside. Getting ahead might simply be a matter of getting your point across in ways those around you are comfortable with. People who communicate better are perceived as being more responsible and effective, and those are the same people who usually are rewarded with raises and promotions.
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