Essential Communication Skills

Being in a leadership position can test anyone’s communication skills. Even for those of us who have crossed over into the world of retirement, we still have to be able to connect with others so we can continue working together to reach our common goals. If we think we may need some help in this area, we have plenty of company.

Almost 57% of employees report being given inadequate directions, and 69% of managers say they’re uncomfortable communicating with employees in general, according to HR Technologist, an industry publication.

With practice and effort, whether we are still working or in retirement, we can improve our communication skills. Let’s study this quick guide to essential communication skills that is useful for all of us seniors.

Speak Clearly

1. Plan ahead.  It’s pretty easy to blow off with the mouth before bothering to engage the brain, but that brings consequences that are undesirable for us.  Why not plan out our strategy ahead and know what we have to say before we say it?

2. Simplify our message.  This senior can more easily comprehend things that are more simple rather than those that are more complex.  The complex can require more processing time while simplicity is more comfortable to digest. 

Maybe graphics, stories, memos, can be highlighted with bullet points to make them easier to understand.

3. Stay in touch. Sometimes as we grow older and our world of active associates grows smaller, we need to take advantage of various methods available for staying in touch.  There are many ways to stay in touch (emails, texting, phone calls, etc.) but we need to find ways that work for us to stay in touch.

4. Tell stories. A compelling anecdote can inspire our listeners and unite them about a specific topic. Build a plot around one or two main points.  Consider personal stories from your own experiences that might relate to your point.

Listen Closely

1. Pay attention. How observant are we? Being aware of our surroundings and our own experiences and how they may relate to others’ experiences.

2. Ask questions. If we want to know what someone is thinking, go straight to the source. Ask open-ended questions that give others the chance to elaborate on their responses. Avoid biased wording that could influence their answers.

3. Welcome feedback. Encourage others to let us know how they think we’re doing. Thank them for their honest and constructive input and use it to enhance our understanding. This step may not be easy when we get feedback that is critical of what we have said, but it is important to validate the opinion they have shared with us.

4. Let go of judgments. What’s the difference between hearing and listening? As individuals, it’s important to use our minds as well as our ears. Let others finish what they’re saying without interrupting them or thinking about our response. Try to put ourselves in their position.

More Communication Tips

1. Be inclusive. Diverse people need others who can relate to a wide variety of audiences and create an atmosphere where each person is valued and respected. That means building real relationships and recognizing their own contributions.

2. Show empathy. Authentic connections depend on caring about the needs of others and being able to understand their thoughts and feelings. This may not be easy, but it is important to help develop an atmosphere of empathy and promote helpful cooperation.

3. Follow through. Actions do speak louder than words. Maybe we’ve heard the saying that “Your actions or so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying”? Deliver on our promises and ensure that our actions are consistent with what we say.

4. Resolve conflicts. Effective communications can promote harmony, but some disagreements are to be expected. Stay calm and search for mutually beneficial solutions.

5. Master technology. Keep our computer skills up to date so we can communicate online and off. Video calls and other tools are likely to remain popular in a climate of remote and hybrid work.

Communication skills to build trust and motivate others. Expressing ourselves with clarity and compassion can help us develop strong relationships and guide others to success.

So, what do you think?  Anything else to add?  Please share you thought below!

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