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How a Lack of Communication Can Cost Your Career

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How a Lack of Communication Can Cost Your Career

The power of effective communication is amazing. A company that clearly communicates their strategy can get everyone working towards the same goal. Alternatively, a company that has a lack of communicate strategy clearly isn’t going to get good buy-in from the folks that work there because they don’t know the vision.

If you’ve seen someone who delivers a speech that moves you to do something, you’ve seen powerful communication in action. Someone who is able to motivate others through the effectiveness of delivering a message is quite powerful indeed. When it gives you tingles, you know it’s great.

I realized the power of communication way back in my days as a Kinko’s store manager. I can’t really describe how many orders didn’t turn out the way they should have due to lack of communication. This happened both when a customer would not clearly explain what they were wanting as well as the co-worker who didn’t effectively communicate what our capabilities were. The majority of these mistakes boiled down to a lack of communication.

We’ve all read about how you have to speak up to get what you want. If you are in a relationship and don’t effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner, chances are you won’t receive those wants and needs. This is true in just about any situation. The same thing is true at work. If you don’t communicate what you want out of a career or what is important to you, chances are it will drastically impact your career. A lack of communication at work can have a detrimental effect in many ways.

Stating what you want isn’t selfish, it’s required for you to have the relationship or career that you want. The ability to communicate well is a huge bonus in helping you attain the career you want.

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

If you think about it, every day at work you are building your reputation. As you gain experience in your field, you are also building your name. Your name, your reputation, your status, your character, and your standing in your company and field are being created each and every day by what you do. Or by what you don’t do.

You might become known as someone who gets things done. Maybe you’re the person that always has a creative solution. When an important project comes up it might be your name that comes to mind to lead the team.

If you have poor communication skills or a lack of communication, your name probably isn’t the one that comes to mind when that big project comes up. Or a fat raise. Not to mention a promotion. Here are some reasons why:

You won’t get the support or tools you need to succeed.

How do you expect to get the tools and resources you need to do the best possible work if you aren’t able to communicate it? You can’t!

A lack of communication will keep you with whatever resources you have. It’s up to you to know what you need to be successful in your job and communicate that need.

One of the biggest ones is ongoing development of your work skills. You have to stay on top of what’s current (and ask for it) or you won’t stay relevant in your field. This happens a lot in dynamic industries such as technology.

There’s a good possibility you’ll be misunderstood.

When you aren’t able to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. It’s much easier for people to misunderstand what you mean or your position on something if you lack communication skills.

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If you are unable to get your point across, it’s easy for your coworkers to simply assume what you mean, whether they are right or not.

A lack of communication greatly increases the chances you will be misunderstood.

You could get left out or misinformed.

People who are poor communicators or lack communication skills tend to be bad listeners.

Bad listeners do not pay as much attention to what’s being said as they should. They also wind up interrupting a lot and jump to their own conclusions without really knowing what’s going on.

These type people find themselves getting left out of more and more conversations because their coworkers get tired of dealing with them.

Nobody likes to work with someone who interrupts all the time and never really listens. After a while the only person they have left to talk to is themselves.

Lack of communication creates doubt and uncertainty.

This is especially true if you are a manager of people. A lack of communication to your team can create a lot of uncertainty.

I know people who weren’t really sure what they were responsible for in their roles because their manager never communicated goals and expectations.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon. This holds true even with working with other people.

If you aren’t able to communicate to others what you are doing or what’s going on, you are going to instill doubt.

Your lack of communication can lead to rumors and gossip.

When we don’t hear about something, it’s human nature to fill in the blanks with our own version. We don’t like uncertainty so will solve the mystery ourselves when we have a lack of communication from someone we work with.

Your annual review is 2 months overdue and you haven’t heard anything from your boss? They might be considering eliminating your position. One of your coworkers is always out of the office on Friday afternoons? They probably get special treatment for some reason.

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See how this lack of communication can cause rumors and speculation?

Now that we’ve looked at some ways that a lack of communication can drastically impact your career, let’s look at how you can improve your communication skills.

10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

When you think about improving your communication skills at work you need to look at the primary ways we communicate, verbal and written.

Let’s take a look at how to improve both your written and verbal communication skills.

Verbal

1. Less is more

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and felt like the other person spoke the whole time and you learned nothing? Don’t be that person.

When you speak at work make it short and sweet. It’s fine to catch up and talk about the weather but when it’s time to talk about the important stuff, don’t overload your audience with a word avalanche.

2. Be a good listener

It may seem funny to be a good listener in order to be a good communicator but it actually makes sense.

When you show that you actually listen and care about what other people are saying it shows that you understand their needs. This enables you to build trust in the relationship. It’s key.

3. Be confident

When you speak with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about.

This isn’t just about verbal, it’s also about your body language. Speak in a clear tone of voice and maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This conveys your confidence.

4. Think before you open your mouth

When you have a fairly good idea of what you are going to say before you actually speak, you are able to convey your ideas more clearly. This also helps you eliminate longer pauses when you are speaking.

5. Concise

Ever read the Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”? Sage words from an incredibly wise man.

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This is so true at work as well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and simply so other people can understand you. Critical.

Written

6. Check your grammar and spelling

This is number one for a reason. At work, it is vitally important that you do not have grammatical errors in your written communication. This includes reports as well as emails.

Having typos peppered into your written communication makes others think that you are too lazy or sloppy to care about spelling. Bad news.

7. Clear and concise

This is just as important in written as it is in verbal.

Most of us receive way too many emails at work. Nobody likes wading through seas of information to find the one or two points they need. There’s no need to put a lot of filler in when less will do.

8. Know your audience

If you are composing an email to the President of your company, you should write in a certain tone.

If the email is to your coworker that you have lunch with every day and go get after work drinks on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need to be as formal.

Write to your audience.

9. Use structure

This goes along with being clear and concise. If you write emails in one long paragraph consisting of 1,000 words, you are making your readers eyes glaze over.

Use things like subheadings, bullet points, and numbering when needed to break up the words and create some nice structure that flows. This is true in any written documentation whether it be reports, emails, or something else.

10. Use names

To make it more friendly and engaging, use your audience names when possible. Obviously you can’t do this in a formal report but with emails and similar you sure can.

I have found that wrapping up with someone’s name also helps them respond in a more timely and positive manner. Something like:

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“As you can see Jim, this will go a long way to helping us get the Morris account, I look forward to hearing back from you soon”.

Strong Communication Makes Your Career Better

When you develop strong communication skills, it can help your career in many ways.

First of all, strong communication skills show confidence in yourself and your ideas. This is a great quality to have in general and certainly at work. When you are confident in your abilities, it makes others see you as a leader.

Strong communication skills helps you get your points across. When you can clearly and concisely state your view on important points, you are clearly understood. When you are clearly understood, it helps others buy into your ideas easier.

Possessing the ability to convey what you need effectively will help you get the tools and resources you need to do your job the best you can. When you can articulate to your boss that going to a conference helps you stay at the top of your game, you’ve got a good chance of going.

If your boss is like mine, he or she will make you show the ROI (return on investment) for getting new resources. Not hard to do if you can communicate well.

Having good communication is a skill senior leadership looks for in others to help lead teams. I know I’ve been around managers who lead a team but are bad a communicating goals, processes, and expectations. It leads to under performing groups and subpar results. Not exactly leadership material.

If you are a leader, then having strong communication skills is critical to getting others to follow your vision. Working for a leader with poor communication skills to share their vision only leads to a boat going in circles. Who wants to be on that ride?

Bottom Line

We’ve explored how a lack of communication can drastically impact your career. When you show a lack of communication, it can drastically impact how successful a career you have.

Speak up to get what you want. Having strong communication skills can help you do just that.

Let’s communicate, people!

More About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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