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Communication barriers plague the workplace, and overcoming this barrier starts with the self-realization that there’s a need for continual improvement. As a leader, communication must be a well-sharpened tool and you must be continually striving to be an effective communicator.

Communication can consist of various parts. However, if you can master the basics, you’re off to a good start. Listening, asking questions, and genuine interest are three key aspects to effective communication.  

1. Listen.

If there’s one of the three items on this list to focus on, it’s to genuinely listen to the person speaking.

Hear and process the words they’re saying. Let their words sink in. Time and time again people listen for the sake of responding. While someone’s talking, don’t focus on your response and wait for a break to get your word in. By truly listening you have the opportunity to hear the other person’s point of view and pain points.

Whether in personal relationships or professional ones, listening is key to building a strong foundation in communication and trust. Both of these are critical to the success of any relationship.

2. Ask questions.

If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.

Don’t make assumptions about the other person’s perspective. Asking questions also shows whether or not you fully listening to the person. Think positively and believe you followed through as described above, and use questions to help you get more information about what the person said.

For example, if you’re working with a teammate that’s expressing dissatisfaction in the dress code policy, ask what their ideal dress code for appropriate office attire is and why’s it important? 

Not only will it help you get more information about the situation, it can help build trust in the relationship.

Genuine interest.

If you aren’t meeting the issues of your teammates or loved ones with genuine interest, there’s a good chance listening and asking questions are going to fail.

Apathy can rob you of your ability to fully participate in what’s going on around you. It may be helpful to reflect on what’s causing the lack of interest on your part and what can be done about it.

If the time and place of the conversation’s not a good fit, reschedule for when it is a good fit. By some chance you don’t foresee a time when it will be a good fit, it may be time to reach out for assistance on moving through what’s blocking your interest on the issue.

If listening, asking questions, and genuine interest aren’t at the top of your skill set list, this simply means there’s a need for practice in these areas. Strive to practice them everyday.

Effective communication benefits us personally and professionally. Regardless of whether or not communication’s a natural skill set, there’s a clear benefit to practicing your communication skills. Today, take a step forward by either downloading a podcast, reading a book, or taking an extra few minutes to practice communication with a loved one.

Think about the questions you would ask and be aware of whether or not you’re engaged. Communication’s a tool that’ll benefit your entire life time and time again.

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