Communication skills are strategies of interpersonal interaction where you are able to effectively state a message, reach the right audience, and get the desired effect which is that the message is received with little to no obstruction in meaning.
According to Roger Carnegie's best selling How to Win Friends and Influence people, some improvement methods that can be applied, especially in the field of management, include the following:
- listening more while speaking less- when an employee, or a potential client, brings an issue to the table, the most effective strategy is to let them talk, get a gist of their affect, and take away the central idea of the message. This is the only way to really address what is needed.
- do not assume- this means zero attempts to try to "mind-read" what someone "is trying to say". Take words at face value and revisit the message when it is your turn to paraphrase.
- paraphrase- in long conversations it is always helpful to repeat in your own words what the other person says. Use words such as "I am understanding that what you are saying is ______. Is this correct?" Do not repeat the exact words, but paraphrase so that the other person knows that you are really listening.
- do not internalize as a personal attack- even when someone is directly accusing you of something, let them talk, and expect to hear venting. Always apologize "if your actions have unintentionally affected" a person and deflect the attention from your person and back into the issues that the other party is trying to address.
- watch (your own) body language- a supervisor which is self-actualized, safe in his role, and knows that the job is being done well is naturally calm, receptive, and even welcoming. By maintaining that attitude, the energy that may come out of an argument will be nullified and proper words will take the place of venting.
- sound back- this often disarms angry people. When someone says, for instance "I am here to complain about ________" immediately paraphrase: "I hear you say that you have a complaint concerning ________, correct?" And then, as the employee elaborates on the complaint, sound back your acknowledgement using (sincere, low-voiced) utterances such as "I see", "I get what you are saying", "Wow, I was unaware of that", or "I see how this could become a potential problem"...
The best way, however, is to avoid having to recur to "last minute" communication skills to achieve better communication. The best practice is always being clear about your goals, have an open-door policy so that your employees can sound out their opinions and ideas, and always conduct mini-meetings, and one-on ones to sense the overall atmosphere of your staff. It is the best way to maintain things under control.