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Description: Top 10 Communication Skills | Conference Calls: Communication Disaster or Success? | A Failure to Communicate? Why Did You Leave?
Volume 8 Issue 3 May 2014 Communication and Feedback A Critical Skill Set It doesn t matter what profession you represent the ability to communicate effectively is a skill of paramount importance to any manager or leader. This skill is no longer confined to the ability to talk to someone in person or by phone....we now have e-mail and social media to throw into the mix. Your day may consist of supervising and training staff in a program completing a variety of administrative tasks communicating with parents about their children working with vendors of supplies and materials or on a more personal level communicating with your spouse and family. You may also be serving in a leadership capacity with your local or state early childhood association. Have you found yourself Dr. Anthony Debenedet 2014 Conference Keynoters Great Communicators Ellen Galinsky The Leadership Letter May 2014 Backpedaling from a conversation because what you said and what you meant were two different things SOUTHERN EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSOCIATION Frustrated with the action of a staff member who you thought understood the directive you had issued Challenged by parents who got a completely different message from the one that you thought you were delivering Stumped by the failure of someone to follow through on a simple request Caught in a bind because policies you had written didn t clearly communicate the position you had intended We ve all been there but learning to clarify and communicate effectively can help you to minimize these incidences. No- body likes to be confused and misunderstood and your effectiveness as a manger director leader can hinge entirely on your ability to communicate in a clear and consistent manner. Read on to get some ideas about how to improve your communication skills. Learning to communicate effectively will pay off both professionally and personally. Inside this issue Top 10 Communication Skills Conference Calls Communication Disaster or Success A Failure to Communicate Why Did You Leave 2 3 4 Leadership Commission Members Anita Dailey GA Marti Nicholson OK Susan Barnes VA Crystal Campbell SC Jeffrey Leffler MS Top Ten Communication Skills If communicating effectively is so important what do I need to know about what skills are necessary to be an effective communicator Here are some skills to consider to enhance your communication skills. 1. Listening A good listener tends to be a good communicator. No one likes the person who doesn t listen but has an opinion about everything. Active listening means that you are paying attention to what the person is saying asking questions to clarify if necessary and responding to their thoughts appropriately. This is just as important with adults as with children 2. Nonverbal Communication What does your body language say Do you keep eye contact Are your hand gestures appropriate to the conversation If you are relaxed and open to a dialogue the other person will be as well. Eye contact is extremely important--it says that you are focused on the speaker and paying attention. Also pay attention to the speaker s body language and non-verbal cues. You can get significant feedback about how your communication is received. 3. Clarity and Concision As educators we tend to use a lot of words. Good communicators use only as many words as necessary. Don t use 10 words when 6 will do If you ramble your listener will tune out. Think about what you want to say before you say it. It doesn t require a script just a little forethought. 4. Friendliness As Southerners we already have this skill in our portfolio If you re friendly the person with whom you are communicating will be as well. No one likes to talk or interact with someone who is surly or arrogant. 5. Confidence Good communicators are confident of their information and what they want to share. People also react positively to you when you demonstrate selfconfidence and they are confident that you will follow-through. 6. Empathy We may not have the same opinions as others and it s always important to remain respectful of someone else s viewpoint. If you re an advocate and working in the political process this approach is particularly important. As they say in politics Don t burn your bridges today...you may need that person tomorrow. 7. Open-Mindedness Don t start a conversation with an opinion already formed that can t move or change. You might possibly come to a different or modified conclusion about an issue if you genuinely listen to what someone else has to say. Good leaders exhibit an open-mindedness to new ideas and different strategies. 8. Respect Showing respect to someone can be as simple as using their name in correspondence or actively listening in a meeting or conversation. Communications by e-mail or social media can convey respect if you ve taken the time to thoughtfully craft a message and edit that message before SECA Members are Great Communicators The FLAEYC Crew at SECA 2014 sending it. This shows that you respect your colleague enough to want to make your message clear and concise. 9. Feedback Providing meaningful feedback can be one of the hardest skills to master. Particularly if you re in a management position and evaluate employees how you provide that feedback will demonstrate how well you can communicate. This skill applies as well to leaders in associations who work with volunteer boards. Feedback should be constructive and positive even if the issue relates to something that requires attention or adjustment. Also be open to receiving feedback on your end...everyone can use constructive feedback. 10. Picking the Right Medium An important skill is knowing how to communicate and what method to use. Things such as employee reviews changes in salary or employment should always be handled in person. Think through how the person you re contacting would prefer to receive communication. It s a thoughtful gesture that says you are thinking of them. Source Top 10 Communication Skills www.About.Com Retrieved February 24 2014. Page 2 T H E L E A D E R S HI P L E T T E R Conference Calls Communication Disaster or Success With the cost of face to face meetings increasing each year many organizations have chosen to conduct some meetings by conference call. Although the conference call is much cheaper than travel and lodging it has its challenges particularly with groups for whom the face-to-face correspondence is so important. We all know these types from calls on which we ve participated The Juggler They are on tion Skills we just discussed Repeatedly breaks in while other people are speaking and tries to monopolize the conversation. Here are some tips for making your conference calls productive and beneficial rather than an exercise in frustration and wasted time. FOR THE HOST Send out an agenda prior more than 45 minutes to an hour....the shorter the better Also avoid lunchtime...it s hard to eat and talk. Make sure that you start on time and end on time ence calls can become rambling discussions if the focus is not maintained. sions on particular topics. Ask someone to be the timekeeper and keep everyone on task. Follow the agenda Confer- Set time limits for discus- the call but only about 50% there. They are answering email feeding the dog taking care of a child etc. Because they forget to mute the call on their end we re treated to all the background sounds such as typing barking and crying. lows the conversation pays attention and helps to bring the group back on task when they begin to wander. to the conference call and ask for any additional agenda items to be submitted prior to the call. A conference call is not the place to add items to what is usually an already crowded agenda. call within a specified period after the call is to start. For example ask participants to join by 2 05 if the call is scheduled for 2 00 or wait to identify themselves until a break in the call. Don t disrupt a discussion to ask Who just joined the call liminary period set out the process by which participants can submit comments. Some organizations tie a webinar function to their conference calls that allows for comments to be posted online rather than through the call. pate in the call from a quiet location and to utilize the mute button. FOR THE PARTICIPANT 1) Go back to the article on page 2 of this newsletter about effective communication Remember that these skills are very important on a conference call listening clarity and concision friendliness open-mindedness and respect. 2) Focus your attention solely on the conference call and the topic of the call. No multi-tasking 3) Be respectful of others when talking or entering the call. Do your best not to interrupt another speaker. 4) Be prepared. Go through the agenda prior to the call and get your thoughts together. 5) Use that mute button Ask participants to join the The Coach This person fol- The Monopolizer Who wants to hear someone s thought process out loud during the call Talks endlessly without regard to the other participants. pose of the call and ensures that the participants have the opportunity to express opinions and comments all while moving toward a stated goal. know he she is there often until the end of the call if then. have the Top 10 Communica- During that 5 minute pre- The Host Explains the pur- The Lurker Doesn t let you Ask participants to partici- The Interrupter Doesn t Don t schedule a call for Sources Help I m on a Conference Call Wall Street Journal Personal Journal 2 26 14 Conference Call Etiquette www.accuconference.com Page 3 T H E L E A D E R S HI P L E T T E R M A Y 20 1 4 Some Other Resources Board Source is an organization that provides many different types of resources for non-profit boards. Generate Buzz is designed to assist organizations in developing a strategic communications plan. SOUTHERN EARLY C H I L D H O OD A S S O C I A T I O N You can find information about it at www.boardsource.org. ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) produces resource materials for associations. This book has a variety of communication & PR ideas that have been implemented by various associations with success. You can find PO Box 55930 Little Rock AR 72215-5930 1-800-305-SECA (7322) Fax 501-227-5297 Email info southernearlychildhood.org Promoting Quality Care and Education for Young Children and Their Families SECA is a Voice for Southern Children www.southernearlychildhood.org information about this book at www.asae.org. A Failure to Communicate Why Did You Leave Yes it s a famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke but a failure to communicate can cost you in time money and future success. If you ve lost a valued employee do you know why Was there something about that employee s position with your program that caused dissatisfaction with the job Did a failure to communicate cause the employee to make other employment decisions Did Resources Management (SHRM) estimates that it costs 3 500 to replace just one 8 per hour employee after you factor in the costs of recruiting interviewing and hiring and retraining. Early childhood is even more challenging because staff must be present to ensure accountability with state licensing standards. Losing members on volunteer boards is no different than an employment situation. There s some reason that members leave. Most often it s because the board is not functioning well and members don t see that their time is valued. With employees communication may not be the problem but it s important that you find out. Be sure to conduct an exit interview to determine if there s a problem. If there is take steps to correct what s wrong and make sure that the work environment enhances employee motivation and morale. The same thing goes for volunteer boards...fix the problems and you ll have no problem retaining those qualified and creative board members. Also remember that communication in this era of social media means that anything you send through the Internet is unlikely to remain a secret. Make sure that you don t post information about an employee or board member particularly if it s critical or negative. Once that post is made you re an open book and you will wish that you indeed had a failure to communicate the employee have an opportunity to communicate their feelings and opinions to you According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 16.2% of workers voluntarily quit their jobs in 2010 at a time when jobs were scarce and a quick turnaround to new employment was anything but a given. The Society for Human