If project managers have poor interpersonal communications skills, their productivity will suffer simply because they do not have the tools needed to influence, persuade and negotiate, all necessary for project success. Lines of communications must be open between people who rely on one another to get work done. Project managers must be able to listen attentively if they are to perform to expectations, avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. Here are a few short tips to help enhance the communications skills.
Understanding your Communication Style - Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way toward helping you to create good and lasting impressions on others. By becoming more aware of how others perceive you, you can adapt more readily to their styles of communicating. One way to do this is by making the other person more comfortable with you by selecting and emphasizing certain behaviors that fit within your personality and resonate with another. In doing this, you will prepare yourself to become an active listener.
Be an Active Listener - People speak at 100 to 175 words per minute, but they can listen intelligently at up to 300 words per minute. Since only a part of our mind is paying attention, it is easy to go into mind drift - thinking about other things while listening to someone. The cure for this is active listening - which involves listening with a purpose. It may be to gain information, obtain directions, understand others, solve problems, share an interest, see how another person feels, show support, etc. If you're finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try asking them to explain in more detail what they are saying, this will reinforce their message in your mind and help you control mind drift.
Use Nonverbal Communication - Nonverbal behaviors help raise the channel of interpersonal communication. Nonverbal communication is facial expressions like smiles, gestures, eye contact, and even posture. This shows the person you are communicating with that you are indeed listening actively and will prompt further communications while keeping costly, time-consuming misunderstandings at a minimum.
- Give Feedback - What someone says and what we hear can be amazingly different! Personal filters, assumptions, judgments, bias, and beliefs can distort what we hear. Repeat back or summarize to ensure that you understand. Restate what you think you heard and ask, "Have I understood you correctly?" If you find having difficulties understanding the message, ask for more information. Feedback is a verbal communications means used to clearly demonstrate you are actively listening and to confirm the communications between you and others.