Not everyone is great at communicating. Whether it be a client, a colleague, or even your boss, you’re going to work with people who just can’t seem to get their point across, let alone listen to yours. Bad communicators aren’t bad people--they’re just missing some key communication skills, like active listening and concise language.
The best way to deal with a bad communicator? Good communication on your part.
1. Listen First, React Second
So much of good communication is actually about listening and understanding what the other person has to say, rather than making yourself understood. When you know what your colleague or client is attempting to tell you, you’ll be better equipped to respond in a way that they will understand and respect. When active listening, it’s important to show the speaker that you are engaged through your body language and by reflecting their wording in your own. For more tips on active listening, check out this blog post.
2. Be Respectful, Kind, and Well-Mannered
When dealing with a defensive or frustrated person, it’s important that your words and body language represent an open and honest pathway for communication. This will help relax the person you are trying to communicate with and put them off the defensive.
3. Be Prepared.
Know as much as you can about the situation or conflict before you talk to the source. Clear up any confusions early on in the conversation so that you’re on the same page.
4. Be Clear and Direct About Your Purpose.
Sometimes when people are bad at communicating, they are also bad at listening. That means no beating around the bush in conversations; you need to say what you mean and mean what you say. This doesn’t mean being impolite or rude--you simply have to stress the purpose of your conversation without flowery language or unnecessary modifiers. The more concise you are, the less there is to misunderstand.
5. When in Doubt, Ask Questions.
Even the best communicators forget to add important information or points to conversations, so it’s important to ask any lingering questions before a conversation is over.