Feb 17, 2023

Communicate like a Pro

Communicate like a Pro

Le Phan

At Silentium, we believe that good communication will help us build better products. Good communication help us share information to minimize risks and be more creative with our problem solving. That is why two of our core values describe the qualities of a good communicator:

  • Talk with heart and respect

  • Loud and clear.

When we interview a candidate, we try to learn if this person also values communication and whether they demonstrate such qualities. Hence, every single member of our company do possess these qualities. However, communication is a skill and none of us can really say that we have fully mastered it.

As a designer, I must use my communication skills every day in order to learn more about users, to collaborate with other team members, to help users understand what our system is doing,… From making my own mistakes and observing other excellent communicators, I find good communication skills can be broken down into 5 smaller skills that can be improved through practice.

1. Get to the point

Say more with less. It’s a lot easier for other people to follow what you are saying this way. The longer the sentence run on, the more likely it is for other people to lose track of what you are talking about! Try to keep your sentences as concise as possible.

✨ What you can do to improve:

  • Prepare what you are going to say

  • Use bullet points and numbers. Even when communicating verbally, this would help you structure your thoughts and be more clear on what you are trying to say.

2. Listening

Listening is essential in communication. How can you communicate if you don’t know what the other person is saying?

✨ What you can do to listen better:

  • Listen for the whole message the other person is trying to say. When you focus on listening to the whole message, you will get less caught up in specific word choice and will even find more information than you have asked for.

  • Listen to what they are feeling as well! This will help continue the conversation and you can help them elaborate on their concerns, excitement, etc…

  • Ask questions. This helps you check if the information you gathered is correct, deepen your understanding and let the other person know that you are listening.

3. Be explicit in sending out information and signaling message received

We have ran into the problem where when a topic start, different teams were waiting for each other to schedule a kick-off meeting to start a topic. Turns out, it’s not enough to just send something out because sometimes, others are busy and may miss the message. This can lead to miscommunications.

✨ Instead, we can be thoughtful about sharing information by:

  • Choose the suitable channel for sharing information. Examples:

    • Communicate in person if it’s something urgent or if it’s very complicated

    • Send it in Slack if it’s not urgent and the receiver can choose when to respond

    • Send it in other software if that’s where the related information is

  • Tagging involved people if sending written messages via Slack, Notion, Figma,…

  • Reaching out for confirmation via other channels if receivers have not responded.

✨ Likewise, when receiving information, it is considerate to always give a confirmation so that others know that they have been heard

  • In face-to-face communication, you can give confirmation verbally (saying “ok”) or through your body language (nodding)

  • Through written communication, answers or react to the messages.

4. Get comfortable

Work is stressful sometimes. We may get frustrated when discussion takes too long and especially when it goes on without reaching any alignment or resolution! When we feel stressed, we start sending out confusing non-verbal signals and behave weirdly. It might stress other people out or sends them the wrong signals, leading to misunderstandings. Plus, when we are stressed, we can’t listen carefully to what the other person is trying to say.

Hence, getting comfortable and finding ways to relieve stress during work hours can be helpful for team’s productivity.

✨ What you can do to improve:

  • Going out for a short walk (even if it’s just to the bathroom)

  • Going out for a smoke

  • Meditate or do a breathing exercise for 3-5 minutes. Have you heard of **headspace** ?

5. Be aware of your own emotions

Our emotions affect the way we think, feel and make decisions. Without being aware of your own emotions, you may fail to communicate your own needs and experience and confuses others with your reaction. This awareness will not only help you but also will help you understand others and help them explain what they are trying to say.

📌 Unfortunately, there is no other way to practice this skill other than to be more mindful. It’s a slow but rewarding process.

Personally, practicing these skills has helped me become a better designer. However, it also helped improve many other aspects of my life. I hope these tips will help you improve your work life and your day-to-day life too!

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Have an idea or a project you’d like to discuss?

95-97 Nguyen Co Thach, HCMC

Have an idea or a project you’d like to discuss?

95-97 Nguyen Co Thach, HCMC

Have an idea or a project you’d like to discuss?

95-97 Nguyen Co Thach, HCMC