Towards the end of the month, I have to give a short (one hour) workshop on “Effective Communication Skills” to students here at the college.
They have asked me to specifically cover phone conversations and emails.
I have put a few random thoughts together:
Cover the definition of “empathy” – letting them know they have to consider the person they are contacting and that person’s feelings towards the subject at hand.
For instance, if making a complaint call, be aware you are speaking with some poor schmuck who is probably getting minimum wage and gets nothing but angry people cussing them out on the phone. Take this into consideration when speaking with that person on the phone. Starting the conversation in a friendly manner can often help greatly in getting real assistance with your issue.
When corresponding with a boss, teacher or person of some authority, it is best to begin with a cordial statement of fact. For instance, instead of starting off by saying, “I am being treated like crap here”, you might start off by saying, “I would appreciate a moment of your time and hope you can help me resolve some issues.”
Start off most emails of complaint with a direct, non-accusatory statement. Instead of saying, “Your stupid-ass product sucks!” you should probably say something like, “The Model 4321 Widget I bought recently does not seem to be working as expected.”
Although the above examples are polite methods to begin what might be an uncomfortable discussion, you have to be somewhat direct and don’t take too long to get to the point. However, there is a happy medium between being rudely blunt or being a long-winded suck-up when starting such conversations.
A few basic tips:
A. Always get the full name and title of the person you need to reach.
B. When writing an email or letter or memo, or even preparing to make a call or having a meeting, it is best to create a draft first, put together your thoughts in a logical order. Then re-read the document several times before you even think about sending it or making the call. If possible, wait a day or two.
C. Correct spelling and grammar are important.
D. When speaking in person, or on the phone, be sure to enunciate clearly and avoid using any vulgarities or slang if at all possible.
I have more thoughts and ideas in outline form, but thought I would ask you clever people to come up with some other “basics” of effective communication skills.
These workshops usually only get about 10-15 students – tops – in attendance, so there is some room for role-playing or demonstrations, should you have any suggestions along those lines.
**With regards to effective communication skills, what have you seen/heard that was truly horrible and ineffective, and what have you seen/heard that was very effective and useful? **
(Examples would be very helpful!)