Seven golden rules to supercharge your communication skills

Communication is a key item in an EA’s professional tool-kit. Petris Lapis’ seven communication rules will help keep your professional conversations top-notch.

In your role, great communication is a powerful and necessary skill for success and poor communication skills are the slippery path to chaotic outcomes and upset colleagues. You can supercharge your communication skills by remembering a few golden rules.

Rule 1: Everyone is different

Everyone thinks, feels, communicates and understands differently, which is why you get odd responses to some of your communications. Good communication targets the recipient and the way they will best receive and understand the message.

Rule 2: Listen

Listening is not the same as hearing. Hearing refers to the soundwaves that pass into your ear. Listening is much more than that and is the most important communication skill you can develop. Most of us only listen a small percentage of the time. There are lots of things you can do to show someone you are listening, but the best way is simply to be present and interested. Focus on what the person is saying with the intention of understanding and without doing another task at the same time.

Rule 3: The reciprocity super power

Dr John Gottman is a psychologist at the University of Washington who studies reciprocity. By collecting biofeedback data on couples discussing hot-button issues in their relationships, he was able to predict the outcome of tense conversations with 96 percent accuracy.

If the initiator opened the conversation harshly, their partner responded in kind. When the initiator opened the conversation with appreciation and warmth, the conversation almost invariably ended on the same note.

If you start a conversation warmly, you will get a much better outcome than if you do not.

Rule 4: Are you literal or inferential?

We can listen and speak either inferentially or literally. When it comes to giving negative feedback, a literal person will say exactly what they think while an inferential person will suggest there might be a problem you could consider fixing. In their world, the inferential person has communicated quite clearly there is a problem, but a literal listener may not have picked up that message. It helps if you communicate your message in a way the other person will understand. If they are a literal listener, you may need to be more direct.

Rule 5: Brevity is appreciated

We live and work in a world where the average person now allegedly has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. A good communicator understands this and gets to the point quickly. Leave out unnecessary details in your communication so it is easier for the other person to follow and retain interest.

Rule 6: Speak mindfully or not at all

Speak only if what you have to say would lead to a positive or better outcome for yourself, the other person and the situation. This does not mean you never give negative feedback or that you let people talk all over you. It means that you speak always with respect and at a time and in a way that is helpful. If saying something will not change anything, then sometimes it is better to say nothing.

Consider your motive for speaking and whether you intend to hurt or help. Words can create happiness or suffering. Choose them wisely. Speaking negatively has an adverse impact on office productivity.

Rule 7 The granny rule

I learned this rule from a communication consultant at Brutal Pixie. It is the litmus test for all your communication. Ask yourself, ‘Is tshis how I would communicate with my granny?’ If not, then start again.