As humans, we all have a feeling of wanting to connect with others. We desire to feel understood, seen, and heard. And how can we accomplish this? It is simple, we accomplish this by continually asking ourselves and those around us: “how can I be a better communicator?”

Through communication we express our wants, needs, feelings, hopes, dreams, and desires – we tell others of our everything. Why? Because it is how we connect with other human beings. Communication is the binding factor when it comes to anything that involves collaboration. Because humans are a social species, communication is involved in just about everything you do.  ‘Here is what I need you or want you to know about me.’ And the same is true at work.

Sure, you may not feel inclined to share your deepest, darkest secrets but to have healthy, productive relationships with colleagues, your expectations need to be explicitly communicated. Some people are born with a natural ability to communicate well, while others struggle through every stop of the process. No matter what category you fall into, it is likely that you can benefit from paying attention to improving your communication skills. And the same goes for working with your Virtual Assistant.

 At MINE Your Business Virtual Solutions, we are remote, so we are acutely aware of how mission-critical communication is for getting things done, forging connections, and ‘getting through this thing called life.

Why Better Communication Helps You

Consider this, most businesses consider your communication skills to be the most important characteristic about you. As a result, you could have top-notch knowledge and job skills but still not be selected for the job if you are lacking in the communication department.

Communication is certainly not only important when it comes to your work life, but it is also vital in having a successful home life as well. Research reports that couples and family members that practice good communication skills lead happier lives overall.

Proper communication will prevent misunderstandings and save you time, so you will not have to go back and explain yourself again and again. You know you have gained good communication skills when you can express your thoughts effectively with as few words as necessary!

How To Improve Communication With Others

Communication is a two-way street. This means that you could be on point with your communication skills, but if the recipient is lacking, then you still may not be understood. Therefore, it is important not only to develop our speaking skills but our listening skills, too. Since you cannot affect the skill level of others, the only thing you can do is strengthen your own communication skills. When you communicate effectively, you will find others will understand you more, everything around you will flow smoother, and you will get what you want!

Try these strategies to improve your communication skills: 

        • Avoid arguing. If you run into a snag in a conversation and it starts to morph into an argument, step back and realize what is going on. It is easy to get swept up into the blame game, but ultimately, it is not important who is at fault. What is important is the mutual understanding of the issue at hand and a desire for a solution that benefits everyone.

        • Do not be afraid to compromise. You may be tempted to try and “win” but that is not the best way to reach a mutual agreement. You find that you are happier when getting your way, but it may come at the expense of the other person, which can cause issues in the future. Finding a good middle ground of compromise works best for dealing with difficult situations.

        • Work on understanding roles and functions. Working remotely has its positives, but sometimes the very structure of a virtual position inadvertently triggers distance in one’s knowledge bank. Your Virtual Assistant may not get a sense of the real ins and outs of their role and may benefit from greater clarity about their position and functions at the outset. Schedule times for you and your Virtual Assistant to talk frequently in their early days on the job to build rapport and foster an understanding of their role within your organization. For the best results, schedule a recurring weekly meeting, too.

        • Work on listening and creating an atmosphere of inclusion. When communicating with others, your speaking ability is important, but listening ability is essential. Well think of it this way, how will you know what you should say, or when to say it if you have not effectively listened? When you have people in the office, those who are away may miss out on the day-to-day activities that build the normal in-office camaraderie. Office-based colleagues may unintentionally reference events or anecdotes for which the Virtual Assistant has no point of reference, creating feelings of isolation and exclusion. Listen more than you speak, and you will gain the profound wisdom of others, too! Share funny happenings and work highlights. Do not forget to catch them up on the “water cooler conversations” via instant messaging apps or during ice breakers before video meetings; ask for highlights from their week.

        • Keep your focus; allow everyone to be seen and heard. Communication will get overly complicated if you try to cover too many issues at the same time. Avoid bringing up the past or other issues and, instead, focus the discussion on the issues at hand. Keep in mind, Virtual assistants need to feel entrusted and empowered to do their jobs, just as they would within an office. While working from home need not feel like they are being surveilled, these workers can appreciate times when they get to see and hear their colleagues. Take care however not to make those who join be put ‘on the spot.’  Instead, plan so that everyone feels comfortable with sharing and is prepared.

        • Stay calm and take responsibility. Be calm and cool when handling situations that may not have gone the way you expected.  When things remain low-key, it is easier to communicate and get your point across. This also means that you need to take responsibility for what you say. Do not be afraid to admit mistakes when you are wrong.

Communication that is clear, explicit, and thoughtful is the foundation for everything when working remotely. Regardless of industry, the task, office location, or virtually, how we express our expectations and needs surely impacts and affects every outcome.  You can expect that both you and your Virtual Assistant will experience the same learning curve, albeit on opposite sides of the equation. Remember that on the other side of the computer screen is a person – a person who, incidentally, has chosen to partner with you to help your business thrive and grow.

Those qualities that we consider to be impossible to disentangle for humanity – adaptability, compassion,  empathy, kindness, sociability, patience, and a willingness to learn – will be the key to the success of your fruitful partnership. Unlock those with this important resolution – congratulations on making this huge communication commitment this year, by the way – and the sky’s the limit! Becoming a better communicator does not happen overnight. But if you keep practicing and tweaking your skills, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Need a little more? Still not ready to jump in with both feet? You know we got you! Check out this Successful Meetings Cheat Sheet for still more on how you can create a productive meeting cadence with your VA you can #goBIG in 2020.

Be sure to post any questions you might have below, and we’ll get right back to you! And if you like this article, share the article.

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