University of Maryland Extension

New Year, Time for Better Communication!

Welcome, 2014! Now is the time of year that we traditionally think forward, make plans, and set goals for the coming year. I encourage you to take a few minutes to do just that. Write down a few goals that are SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Writing them will help you formalize your thoughts and will provide you with a record of what you plan to accomplish.

Setting goals, however, is only the first step. Following through to success usually takes some hard work, determination, and communication. Whether you work your farming operation with family or employees, there’s bound to be other people involved in your success. Give yourself the best chance of reaching this year’s goals by following these tips to improving your communication skills.

Don’t just hear: listen.  Communication is a two-way street so we should expect to spend half our communication time on the receiving end. Be an active listener. Let the other person know you understand what they are saying or, if you don’t, ask clarifying questions so you can understand. While you are listening, think about what the other person is saying – not about what you are going to say next.

Communicate frequently and openly. Make it a habit to talk about things often—both work-related and personal. If talking is normal and comfortable, both parties will be more likely to discuss potential problems before they turn into disagreements or arguments.

Think about non-verbal communication. Tone of voice, facial expression, and body language can say as much as words. Pay attention to non-verbal communication, and consider how others will interpret your non-verbal cues.

Best wishes to you for accomplishing all you set out to do in 2014!


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