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Developing better communication skills

Studies have shown that a person with better communication skills can typically achieve a higher level of success than someone who simply has the highest qualifications on paper. This is good news for anyone looking to develop the skills it takes to stand out as an excellent leader and communicator, traits that are essential for small business owners and leaders.

Here are just a few ways you can improve your communication skills.

1. Always maintain control of your emotions in stressful situations

Leaders are often called upon to make difficult decisions under circumstances that are not ideal. If you can keep a cool head and calmly make decisions for your business in a crisis, the people around you will begin to recognize you as the go-to leader when new or challenging situations arise, and you'll grow trust with your employees.

2. Remain focused on the conversation at hand

When you are in the middle of working on a project it is easy to get tunnel vision that prevents you from focusing on what is happening around you. When someone engages you in conversation always try to stay focused on what they are saying. One way to make sure you are truly focused on the conversation is to occasionally repeat back your understanding of what the other person just told you, not only will this behavior make them feel you value their input enough to listen, but it will also increase the level of respect they have for you as a leader.

3. Pay attention to your body language

As a leader, it is important to remember that your body language can be just as important as what you say. If you are in the middle of a conversation with an employee and they see you furrowing your brows or not making eye contact, they could walk away with the impression that you are disinterested or angry with them. Try to maintain a neutral expression when conversing with your staff or coworkers.

4. Do not interrupt

When you are a leader, people will often approach you because you have the answers, however, it can be easy to speak without a full understanding of what is being asked and provide someone with incorrect information. Always allow the other person to finish their thought and ask their question in its entirety so you can provide a thoughtful, helpful answer.

5. Do not make snap judgments when speaking to someone

If someone you are leading comes to you and admits something they have done something wrong, try your best to withhold judgment. Sometimes this will require you to simply listen to their side of the story and reschedule a meeting later in the day or week to discuss a more productive course of action. Other times, it may be as simple as asking them what their solution to the issue would be and addressing it from that angle.

6. Be consistent with your feedback

When you are leading people, ensure that you look for opportunities to consistently offer positive and negative feedback. Many issues in corporations can be prevented by simply mentioning positive behavior when you see it and constructively pointing out negative behaviors as they occur in hopes of it ending there.

7. Carefully consider the opinions of people around you

You don't need to allow yourself to be persuaded by the opinions of others in any way, but occasionally a fresh opinion from someone with less experience can breathe new life into your business. Don't let your employee's inexperience cause you to overlook the great ideas they may occasionally have. Be willing to bravely do things someone else's way from time to time and your courage will certainly increase.

8. Make the hard decision and say "no"

As uncomfortable as it can be to shut down someone's idea, it is necessary at times. Next time someone has an idea that you are completely uncomfortable with, simply respond by telling them no. Often, no explanation is better than a long explanation when you disagree with a person's idea. As a leader, it is alright to go with your gut instinct and override decisions that you do not agree with.

If you are looking for ways to lead more effectively, communicating better is one of the easiest and most valuable skills you can learn. Effective communication will help you to gain the trust and respect of individuals around you, which is one of the most valuable assets you can acquire as a leader.

Note that the resources listed here are meant solely as overviews and helpful information. Please consult experts regarding your specific security needs for your business.