Clear communication is vital in any relationship — especially with your team. Your success as a communicator determines the effectiveness of your leadership. Without clear communication, your team may feel disconnected or unseen, and ultimately become disengaged from the vision.
It can be challenging to know if what you wanted to say was understood. Instead of assuming you were clear and then finding out later you were misunderstood, it’s important to be proactive and take steps to communicate well.
Here are three ways to have clear communication with your team.
1. Get feedback.
One of the best ways to know how effectively you’re communicating is to directly request feedback from your listeners. Once you’ve finished speaking, ask if what you said made sense or if there is anything you can clarify.
If you’re speaking to a larger audience in a meeting or more formal setting, take time to answer questions after. You can even include the main points in a follow-up email and include an invitation for further questions. If you want to know how well you’re communicating on a larger scale, you can conduct evaluations, check in one-on-one with different department heads or send out anonymous surveys. By directly asking your audience, you will know how effectively or ineffectively you’re communicating and make changes to improve.
2. Be observant.
Whether you’re speaking one-on-one with someone, in a meeting with your team or giving a company-wide announcement, be aware of your listeners’ body language. Maintaining eye contact, head nodding or small words of agreement are signs you are communicating clearly and efficiently.
If you find that isn’t happening, or your listeners aren’t reacting with the attentiveness or concern warranted by the message, pause and ask for feedback. Clarify sections that were unclear and reiterate important points. By being observant, you can know if your team is on the same page as you and find other, more effective ways to make your point.
3. Practice active listening.
In order to communicate clearly, listening is just as important as speaking. Show your team you value them by giving them your full attention and expressing verbal and nonverbal feedback.
Be sure to sit facing the speaker and nod to show your attentiveness, agreement and understanding, all while maintaining eye contact. Provide verbal feedback when applicable by voicing small words of agreement, understanding and appreciation for sharing their thoughts. Giving your full attention will help you maintain clear communication, prevent misunderstandings and show your team you value them.
Clear communication can make or break your leadership. Practice providing clarity of vision, mission and objectives. By taking steps to become an effective communicator, you cultivate an environment of clarity, and allow your team and your organization to pursue success with relentless concentration and unity.