COMMUNICATION SKILLS NOTES

For communication to occur effectively, the ability and skills are required:

  • must be able to communicate effectively with all levels of managements .
  • Must have substantial experiences, training in oral and written communication and demonstrate good writing skills.
  • Be able to prepare special analysis, research reports, and proposals.
  • Must have ability to communicate and sell ideas, firm, and products.
  • Need ability to compare effective correspondence
  • Must be able to cultivate and maintain good customer relationship.
  • Need skills in gathering, analyzing, and interpreting data and in writing analytical reports.

ENCODING :
Encoding is dressing your thoughts with the meaningful language. Then the use of this language, oral, written or nonverbal, becomes a message . The wording of he message should observe the art of empathy so that it reaches the receiver correctly and understandably. Encoding includes writing, speaking, and other communication means.

Decoding is done by the receiver. His decoding of the message depends upon his past background, perception, knowledge of the language, understanding ,viewpoint and relations with the sender. Decoding is reading , listening and understanding .

Developing Effective Communication Skills
Speaking and Listening Skills, Verbal and Nonverbal Communication
Consequently, developing good listening and effective speaking skills should be an integral part of everyone’s personal development.
Information cannot be effectively received, transferred or exchanged without using good communication skills.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Skills
Individuals’ communication skills are a basis for an effective dialogue, and involve both verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
While verbal communication helps to express oneself, nonverbal enhances spoken ideas by means of bodily, voice, and eye behavior, facial expression, etc. It reinforces the effect of spoken words. In addition, nonverbal communication can be viewed as a reliable indicator of real feelings of an interlocutor. Observed and paid attention to, it can help a person to understand another one better.

Effective Listening
Listening is probably the most used skill in everyday communication. It involves hearing and paying attention to the speaker. However, hearing and effective listening are completely different abilities. Hearing thousands of sounds every day is a normal thing for an individual. Effective listening, on contrast, involves not only hearing, but also comprehending and understanding the message.
Sounds simple. However, not everybody is a good listener – some people prefer to talk. But to be a good communicator, what is important for an individual in both the personal sphere and at the workplace is to be an effective listener.

  • Pay attention to the speaker, first of all, in order to show you are involved in communication.
  • Respond both verbally and nonverbally, showing that the message is being comprehended and followed. Eye contact, gestures, facial expression, short responses or brief expressions of attitude, such as nodding, help the speaker to understand whether a
    listener follows the conversation.
  • Do not interrupt the speaker in the middle of a speech. Wait till the idea is explained completely, think the information over to understand the meaning, and only then provide suggestions, comments, or ask questions.
  • Ask questions and confirm your understanding of the message. A brief summary of what the speaker said might be the best idea. It shows that the speaker was listened and paid attention to.

Effective Speaking
As a mean of communication, effective speaking plays a vital role in people’s lives. Though everybody speaks everyday and is able to express ideas, thoughts, or requests, not everybody can do it well. Some people are difficult to follow, some explain their thoughts in a complicated manner, and some are simply boring to listen to. Avoid these mistakes.

  • Use plain and simple words unless the audience is specialized in the subject area.
  • Use complete simple sentences for the message to be easier to comprehend.
  • Do not speak too fast. It is difficult to comprehend information if much of it is presented in a short period of time.
  • Make pauses. Pauses between sentences and ideas will give a listener some space to think the words over, to understand the message.
  • Structure and connect ideas. Major points should be presented in a logical manner. Otherwise it is difficult to follow the speaker. So, make sure that each next thought expressed expands on the subject and on the previous point.
  • Support ideas not only with words, but with intonation and nonverbal means of communication as well. Proper intonation can stress certain ideas you want to draw attention to. Nonverbal means of communication, such as gestures and facial expression,
    establish a closer connection with the audience, and enhance the message being communicated.

Benefits of Good Communication in the Workplace
Communication Skills Improve Workplace Efficiency
Good communication in the workplace is essential and helps to improve morale, increase efficiency and create healthy working relationships. In any form of employment, good communication skills are a real asset and particularly in today’s difficult financial climate, it is more important than ever to be able to communicate effectively whether this be with colleagues, employers, employees or customers. For those who have been made redundant and are now facing job interviews or are having problems with others
within the workplace, effective communication skills will be an extremely useful resource.

Understanding Good Communication Skills
When most people think about communication it is usually speaking that first springs to mind, however, being able to listen well is a large part of effective communication. It is also about being able to listen to what the other person is not actually saying but is communicating through non-verbal behaviours. Examples of non-verbal communication include using gestures, facial expressions, body language as well as using various props.

Good Workplace Communication Improves Morale
A major benefit of good communication within the workplace is that it may very likely lead to an improvement in office morale. For example if employees never or rarely receive any kind of positive feedback or idea as to how the company is performing then it is often quite difficult to stay motivated. When very little is communicated back to employees this may also trigger a sense of distrust leading to increased tension and conflict.

Questions skills;
Effective Questioning Skills
How important is it to ask good questions? It’s very important. It’s important you use questioning skills to help you completely understand the caller’s situation. Otherwise, you could be responding to what you guess the caller means, which may or may not be correct.

Questioning goes beyond listening.
Effective questioning is a real compliment to your skills. It shows that you have the ability to understand the caller’s real needs. It shows that you are looking for meaning that’s deeper than the spoken message. Effective questioning is a powerful, learned skill. It says to the caller, “I’m interested in determining your needs.”

Questioning can be put into two divisions: Open-Ended Questions and Closed-Ended Questions.
Open-Ended Questions: Open-ended questions are questions without a fixed limit. They encourage continued conversation, and help you get more information. Plus, they often provide opportunities to gain insight into the other person’s feelings. Open-ended questions draw out more information. If you want the caller to open up, use open-ended questions that start with
who, what, where, why, when, and how. A few examples are:
“What are some of the things you look for in a hotel?”
“How do you feel government could be more responsive to your needs?”
“What are your concerns about this new program?”

Closed-Ended Questions: Closed-ended questions have a fixed limit. They’re often answered with a yes or no, or with a simple statement of fact. Closed-ended questions are used to direct the conversation. They usually get specific information or confirm facts. Here are some
examples.
“Do you have health insurance?”
“Do you want the new brochure?”
“Would you be interested in that?”
We use the open-ended questions to get more information and the closed-ended questions to focus in on one area.
Additionally, there are several other type of questioning techniques this are;
Probing Questions: Sometimes you ask an open-ended question to get more information and you only get part of what you need. Now it’s time for a probing question. A probing question is another open-ended question, but it’s a follow-up. It’s narrower. It asks about one area. Here’s an example:
“What topic areas are you interested in?” This question would be better than reading off 50 topics to the caller. It’s a probing question.
A few other examples are:
“Are you able to tell me more about the form you received?”
“What did you like best about Paris?”
Probing questions are valuable in getting to the heart of the matter.
The Echo Question: Here’s a good technique for getting more information. You can use this like a probing question. The idea is to use the last part of a phrase the caller said. Slightly raise the tone of your voice at the end of the phrase to convert it to a question. Then pause and use silence – like this:
“…The bill you received?”
An echo question repeats part of the phrase that the caller used, using voice inflection to convert it to a question. Some people call it mirroring or reflecting. Others call it parroting. We call it echoing. Whatever you call it, it’s a valuable technique to use.

Leading Questions: Many things can be good or bad. Take fire for example. Fire warms our home, cooks our food, and does many other useful things. Uncontrolled, it can burn down our houses. The reason we use that example is because leading questions can also be good or bad. Leading questions, if used improperly, can be manipulative because you’re leading the person to give the answer you want. When they are used properly, you’re helping that person. Some examples of proper leading questions are:
“You understand what I’m saying, don’t you?”
“You’ll want to know about our same day delivery service, right?”
“You’ll want to go ahead with this, won’t you?”
Leading questions often end with suggestive nudges toward the desired answer. Some ending phrases would be, “Don’t you?”, “Shouldn’t you?”, “Won’t you?”, “Haven’t you?”, and “Right?”

So where are leading questions useful? Well, they’re useful in helping someone who’s undecided make the right decision, a decision that will benefit them. You use a leading question ethically when you help someone do the right thing. Some folks call this technique the “tie down” technique because you’re actually trying to tie down the caller’s needs. The bottom line is to practice using a variety of questioning techniques. It will help you help your callers more effectively. After all, you want to provide the very best customer service, don’t you?

Why are closed questions useful?
Closed questions are also useful in their own place. They are necessary at the end of a piece of communication to ensure clarity. They are also good if you are unclear about the information you are receiving. If somebody has a tendency to waffle or ramble, you may need closed questions to get clear on the key points of the message.

Some of the particular situations where closed questions will help you are ;

  • To get specific information
  • To get commitmen
  • To seek clarification or reassurance
  • To gain confirmation/affirmation
  • It can speed the process up
  • To round off a conversation
  • To narrow down options

The Importance of Questioning
A learner is by nature a questioner. If there is a drive in an individual to increase knowledge, skills or understanding it is driven by doubt, curiosity, wonderment, incomprehension, puzzlement, uncertainty, recognition of a need, or curiosity. This drive is then focused through questions that the learner formulates and actively seeks to find answers to. They may be simple questions that seek clear facts, or complex questions that probe deep into concepts, beliefs and understandings. The question may provide an answer that solves the learning need or may lead to further questions as knowledge and understanding grows. It is obvious though, that however
simple or complex an issue is, a good clear relevant question will be of far greater use to the learner than a question that is vague, poorly defined or irrelevant.

“All our knowledge results from questions, which is another way of saying that questioning is our most important intellectual tool.” (Neil Postman) Thinking is central to all learning and there is no learning without thinking, but central to thinking is questioning. It is our questions that fuel and drive our thinking If schools hold a vision or goal that goes beyond the delivery of curriculum content, and if schools want to equip pupils with the skills of learning, then it becomes obvious that a primary skill for any independent learner is the ability to ask clear, well defined and relevant questions.

Questioning and Reading
The National Reading Panel (2000) analysed a large collection of over two hundred studies examining the approaches used for targeting the development of reading comprehension and found seven strategies that positively improve comprehension. Of these seven strategies (P18) there are three that have questioning skills at their core.

  • Question answering, where readers answer questions posed by the teacher and receive immediate feedback;
  • Question generation, where readers ask themselves questions about various aspects of the
    story;

Story structure, where students are taught to use the structure of the story as a means of helping them recall story content in order to answer questions about what they have read. Asking the right questions is one of the vital factors in closing sales and is a key part to any good sales training course. Salespeople usually focus on securing an order; so closing is their main concern. However, emphasis on the end of the sales process often leads to the preceding steps being neglected or, in some cases, completely overlooked. The fact remains that it is questions which ultimately unlock the sale – so it is vital that they are designed carefully and used in the right
sequence.

Successful salespeople, have ability of asking open-ended questions. These questions – usually starting with interrogative words such as who, what, why, and so on – provide us with more information than closed questions. Closed questions, inviting a shorter answer such as yes or no can also be used to gain specific yes or no answers. Both types of questions can be used in tandem with each other, to great effect. The key point to understand here is not the volume of information that each type of question leads to, but the quality of that information. One of the greatest sounds that any sales representative can hear is that their prospect has a problems with their current supplier. It may be a difficulty with delivery, payment, service, fee or a host of other factors. This knowledge will be imparted in two ways.

Firstly, the facts of the circumstances will be revealed – for example a grievance about recurring delayed delivery. Secondly, the impact on the individual concerned will be divulged. This could be: “It’s giving me a real headache.” This knowledge is exceptionally valuable as it indicates that the prospect has become emotionally involved. This opinion should be explored even further, if allowed by the client. Looking back to the report about late delivery being an issue, a sales representative could then make use of a closed question to add even more weight to the issue. Following on with something like: “So you would like to be free from this complication, then?” makes the prospect ponder what life would be like if the position were resolved. Closed questions like this also furnish the sales representative greater authority over the meeting as they can be used to keep answers brief if so desired.

One of the greatest areas for improvement for new salespeople in use of questions is identifying the correct sequence in which they should be used and is therefore forms a fundamental element of sales training. This is symptomatic of the fact that, instead of listening to the prospect and using the information that they are given, they are often too busy thinking about what they’re going to say next. The sequence in which questions should be asked is a simple one, however, and is logical in its format.

Step 1
The initial section for a sales representative to investigate is the prospects current circumstances. power flows from the individual who knows, so they ought to find out as much as possible at this juncture. Who is at present supplying? What merchandise or utility? What amount are they paying? Who decides on its use and purchase? What is the volume per annum? All these questions build a picture of what is at present happening. They do, nevertheless, also perform another aim. The sales expert should be familiar with the competition inside out, and if told that commodity X is being supplied by supplier Y, should be accomplished to spot potential
weaknesses.

Step 2
The next step concentrates on problems, issues or weaknesses of the customers existing circumstances. By getting them to recognize any problems, they will be more disposed toward changing their supplier in order to alleviate the difficulties of the predicament.
Instead of selling an appealing, ostentatious concept, we are selling a rescue service. nonetheless, this sounds easier to do than it actually is, for two primary reasons. Firstly, customers are frequently unwilling to admit to problem suppliers because they may have chosen the supplier in the first place. Secondly, if done insensitively, prospects will consider this approach as a shock strategy and discharge it as the difficult sales approach. The explanation lies in two different techniques: looking for areas for enhancement and prefacing.

Instead of asking prospects to identify problems or issues, the sales representative asks them to deliberate over any areas where their current supplier could develop. This face-saving exercise allows the prospect to give vent to their opinion without having to accept that they actually do have some problems, which they themselves may have helped produce in the first place by choosing that supplier.
Each question can be prefaced by a declaration that softly introduces the question that follows. Examples include: “It would assist if you could provide me an intimation of your priorities. Tell me…”or “numerous y customers tell me that they had the selfsame trouble. What if…” etc. once in a while, with the bombastic sort, it may be fitting to preface each question with a phrase like: “Would you mind if I asked..?” This will appeal to their need for esteem and they are more probable to respond.

Step 3
The last step is to ask them to identify the consequence of having any problems solved. This may be articulated as a safer workplace, higher margins, greater industrial relations, or even a more motivated workforce. Whatever the benefits are, the vital thing is to get the prospect actually talking about them. This will reinforce their own desire to at least endeavour to put right the , which will with any luck be achieved by accepting your recommendation. The last question to ask, therefore, is the pre-closing one: “If we could find a system of slaying those problems, while still maintaining an exceptional service, would you be predisposed” Implementing these techniques will have a positive effect on sales performance. These skills can be developed by attending a good sales training course.

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