We spend our time communicating. In fact, we can’t get enough of it – so much so that we have found new and inventive ways to do it. However, while our means of communication may evolve and multiply, the essence of effective communication remains unchanged. Whether it be in the interview room or at the negotiation table, effective communication is often the difference between good and great.
So what is it exactly and what tools can get us there?
The power of good communication
Imagine the situation: An important presentation to investors. Months of work behind it. You have the soft skills. You know the business. You have analysed the case. And now all that is left to do is to present and defend your proposal. In this and every other situation, effective communication comes to the fore. In the heat of the moment, it is the gestures we choose and the language we use that decide the outcome. There is sometimes a very thin line between failure and success and effective communication can often determine which side of the line we find ourselves.
The good news is that we can all acquire the skills to master effective communication. Beatrice Suhany, a German student in her final year of studies in the ESCP Master in Management programme has learned to develop her communication skills thanks to exposure to an international setting. We sat down with her recently to learn from her multicultural experience. As Beatrice says “You can learn anything. You just have to want to do it!”.
How to communicate effectively
There is a path for every one of us to improve how we communicate. For example, Beatrice outlined the difference she noticed between speaking with her friends from home, her international friends and her boss. In one situation, we can achieve almost effortless communication while in another we will be lost for words and painstakingly deliberating over the best way to get our ideas and intentions across.
So how does she think we might make a challenging situation as accessible as a chat with a friend?
Build awareness and understanding
In order to communicate effectively, we must call on our powers of awareness. Here lies the difference between talking and communicating.
Asking ourselves how we want to be perceived and what our goals are is a great starting point for building effective communication. With this knowledge, we can be surprised with the feedback others can offer. Beatrice has had positive and constructive experience with her peers. As she says “There are things we do and say that we don’t even realise”.
Who am I speaking with? What is their world view? What is the context? What signals am I receiving? We can look to understand the other person’s viewpoint and adapt our communication accordingly.
Beatrice has been working for an American company in France. So here you have a young German who is naturally more reserved than the American culture and the French colleagues working with her. Beatrice recounts, “they kept telling me that I had good ideas and that I should not hesitate in sharing them in meetings. I just had to adjust to the environment. And I am delighted I did so”.
Build trust, create clarity
Communication is not a two-way street. It is a bridge. And if you don’t have one, you need to build one. While conflict is natural and inevitable at times, effective communication always looks to build trust and collaboration to create new pathways for interaction. As difficult as a situation might be, communication always matters. Even in the most trying moments, opportunities to build trust abound! “Even if I have disappointing results, how I communicate those results still makes a difference. There will be a next time”.
Matching words to intention
By asking yourself the right questions, clearly communicating your intent with words that match your intention will follow naturally. Aligning intent and communication is the key to powerful and effective communication.
Just imagine a world of clear, effective communicators! For Beatrice, there would be a lot less trouble and a lot of time saved if this were the case.
Exposure to an international and challenging environment is the ideal practise ground to learn this vital skill. Effective communication is the key tool that allows you to get your point across and to persuade your listener to act on what you are saying. And whatever the situation, it is the trusty tool to help you achieve your objectives! Join an ESCP Master programme to immerse yourself in this environment and acquire this primary skill for your career.