Regardless of your role, you will need to communicate effectively and efficiently with a number of key people, who might include team members, coaches, officials, administrators, parents, guardians, other managers, media, sponsors, just to name a few!
Effective communication is a two way process; it’s about giving and receiving information. This may sound simple, but it’s not always easy because we all have different thinking and presentation preferences.
Research into face-to-face communication concludes that over 90% of information is conveyed non-verbally; that is, without words. The impact of gestures, expressions, signals, the tone, pitch, volume, speed of your voice can be very powerful, more so than words, so you need to be aware of the impact your body language can have on an interaction.
It takes only a few seconds to form an impression which means we are often being ‘judged’ by those we meet even before we have opened our mouths!
This doesn’t mean that the words we use are unimportant, merely that effective communication requires congruence. In other words, if what we say, how we say it and how we behave are aligned we are more likely to get the desired outcome.
Yet as communication is a two way process, we only have control over part of the interaction. Whether or not a person is ‘receiving’ what we intended depends on a variety of factors, some of which are out of our control.
It helps if we know something about the person or people we are trying to communicate with, particularly if we want to influence them.
Now there are countless resources on the internet that give communication advice. Regardless of your setting, here are some helpful tips to get you focussed on what is important:
- Make sure you are in an environment with few or no distractions;
- Gain the listener’s attention before you start and maintain eye contact;
- Ensure you allow enough time to discuss everything you need – don’t rush;
- Make sure the information you give and the methods you use are appropriate for the listener;
- Avoid jargon and be sensitive to language which may offend;
- Be aware of and appropriately vary the pitch, tone, volume and speed of your voice;
- Consider the messages you convey with your body language; for example, your gestures, facial expressions and use of personal space;
- Check the listener understands what you are saying and give them a chance to ask questions;
- Listen carefully to the responses you get and don’t interrupt; and
- Ask questions and summarise what you’ve heard to make sure you both understood.
How well do you think you communicate?
Rate yourself against each of these dimensions.
So how do you know if you’re a good communicator?
Maybe ask a good friend or family member how well they think you communicate – you might be surprised at their response!
We should constantly be reflecting on and looking to improve how we communicate with others, especially in highly important team management roles.
These lessons can also be continued into all of our personal and professional relationships!