Communicate Like a Pro
Consider 10 must-have communication skills in today’s environment.
The ability to communicate effectively with superiors, colleagues, and staff is essential, no matter what industry you work in. Although our modes of communication have changed in recent years, the goal is still the same. Healthcare business professionals must be able to effectively convey and receive messages in person, on the phone, in email, and through social media.
These “Top 10 Communication Skills” will help you communicate like a pro and make a good impression in today’s workforce.
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. No one likes communicating with someone who only cares about putting in their two cents, and does not take the time to listen. Through listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and respond appropriately.
Watch Body Language
Nonverbal cues — such as eye contact, hand gestures, and tone — speak volumes. Paying attention to the other people’s nonverbal signals will make you a better communicator. For example, if someone you’re speaking to isn’t looking you in the eye, they may feel uncomfortable. Check your body language to see if there’s anything you can do to make the person feel more at ease. A relaxed, open stance and a friendly tone, for example, will make you more approachable and encourage others to speak openly with you.
Be Clear and Concise
Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Be clear and direct, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, via email, or in an instant message. Think about what you want to say before you say it; this will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or causing confusion.
A friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, will encourage others to engage in open and honest communication with you. Personalize email messages to make the recipient feel more appreciated. Something as simple as “I hope you had to good weekend” can make a difference.
When you are confident, you instill confidence in others. To appear confident (even when you aren’t) remember your other skills: Watch your body language (stand tall and smile) and speak clearly and concisely. Just be careful not to sound arrogant or aggressive.
Even when you disagree with someone, try to understand and respect the person’s point of view. Simply saying, “I understand where you are coming from,” demonstrates empathy.
A good communicator enters a conversation with a flexible, open mind. Being open-minded allows you to see the other person’s point of view. Be willing to enter into a dialogue, even when you have a difference of opinion, to have more honest and productive conversations.
People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Take simple steps to show respect, such as using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening to the person who is speaking. Convey respect through email by taking the time to edit your messages. If you send a sloppily written email, the recipient will think you do not respect them enough to think through your communication, and they will probably misunderstand your message, as well. Being able to give and receive constructive feedback is an important tool in effective communication. Simply saying “good job” to an employee, for example, can greatly increase motivation. Listen to and learn from the feedback others give you.
Pick the Right Medium
Knowing which form of communication to use is an important communication skill. People are more likely to respond positively to you if the message matches the medium. For example, serious conversations — such as salary negotiations — are best done in person. Simple questions or requests may be better handled, and less intrusive, if communicated via email.
Honing your communication skills takes effort. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.” This may seem extreme, but oftentimes the challenges we encounter garner the greatest rewards.
Michelle Clark, CPC, works for a multi-specialty clinic of 150+ providers. She also works part time as a coding consultant for Health Solution. Clark has been in healthcare for 25 years, 10 as a coder. She is a former member developmental officer and education officer for Springfield, Mo., local chapter.