Business Perspectives

Ray Hull: Communication is a powerful source of influence in professional life

Those who communicate well, with confidence, with speech that is articulate, and with the power that interpersonal communication can generate when used with precision, will be the ones who become the most influential and will succeed in most fields of endeavor.

Success in one’s professional life depends to a large degree upon their ability to communicate effectively with their customers and employees. To demonstrate excellence as professionals, we must also develop excellence as communicators. The potential influence of an excellent communicator is limitless.

The importance of learning to communicate effectively in one’s professional life, or any aspect of one’s life cannot be overstated. The reason? Much of what professionals in any field do in their daily professional lives involves communication in one form or another. The better they communicate, the more influential they will be.

For example, we generally choose among health care providers of equal skill and qualifications those who communicate with us most effectively, and who make us feel most comfortable through their manner of communication.

However, some professionals are not effective in the interpersonal aspects of communication either because they are not skilled in attending to all of the unpredictable events that occur during such interactions, or may not have been prepared in this important area. Therefore, they may not be as successful in their interactions with those they serve.

Effective communication involves a delicate balance between a nurturing and caring communicative style, and the assurance that one is working with a well prepared professional. And, the art of communication with your customers, your clients and one’s colleagues can be learned. However, the programs that prepare professionals in the vast majority of fields of service do not offer formal preparation in this critically important aspect of the professions.

One of the comments I hear all too frequently from employers is as follows, “I tell my employees what we need to do to increase our sales capacity, but then later I notice that many of them are still headed in the wrong direction —again!” When I respond by saying that it may be that they didn’t understand what you said. The response from the employer is often, “Well, I was perfectly clear. They probably just weren’t listening!”

I tell my audiences, “Whether we want to or not, we live in a world of people who do not communicate well.” But, we also live in a world of people who do not possess the knowledge to be good communicators.

What are some poor communication habits that can be improved?

▪ Poor body language: Hands in pockets, shuffling feet, shoulders hunched forward, poor eye contact are all indicators that the speaker is really not interested in talking to you.

▪ Inappropriate grooming: Wearing distracting clothing or makeup, extreme hair styles, visible body piercings, and visible tattoos detract from positive communication.

▪ Interrupting conversations: Interrupting by interjecting their opinion before their associate has finished speaking.

▪ Not returning messages: Telephone or e-mail messages that are not responded to in a reasonable amount of time reveals an attitude of not caring.

These and many other causes of dysfunctional communication in a work environment can result in employees who will cease communicating with those who are responsible for them. The positive influence of effective communication is what keeps businesses, clinics, schools and churches functioning creatively and successfully.

Ray H. Hull is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Wichita State University. His new book with Jim Stovall is “The Art of Learning and Self-Development: Your Competitive Edge.”

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