Five Keys to Effective Communication

Category: Brad on Business published on: 4/25/2016  by Brad Cowart

Every day we talk … a lot. We give and receive instructions. We communicate informally with greetings and light conversation, and we communicate formally in meetings with team members and clients. Yet how often do we mis-hear or not remember what is said? Everyone is rushed and has too much to do, but when we don’t communicate effectively we only add stress and extra work to our day.

Over the years and after a lot of miscommunication, I’ve found a few oointers that have helped me. These take action, but with use they will become habit, and others will recognize you as a great communicator.

Communication is Received, Not Sent

Imagine you’re at a concert or sports event with a roaring crowd. Can you be effectively heard? No. It doesn’t matter how loud you yell or how your sentence is crafted or if you offer a profound thought. If the message is not first heard and understood then you have not communicated.

When we talk with others there are many distractions that can weaken communication: the environment, their interest, your delivery, “techy talk” and more. When you’re the communicator tailor your words for your audience. Don’t prattle on—watch their body language. Are they engaged? Are they leaning in and nodding? Or do their eyes glaze over as they begin to move away? Reading your audience will shape your delivery and help them receive your message.

Delivery is Crucial

Words matter but communication involves several elements. Tone, body language, volume, and facial expressions all contribute to communication. Make sure to use clear sentences. Don’t get excited and speak faster. Keep your volume appropriate to the environment. Be engaged: smile, lean in and show interest. Think about yourself. Who do you listen to more: an upbeat person who doesn’t hog the conversation or a fast–talking, loud person who constantly scans the crowd.

Body language and tone also play a role in phone conversations. Though you remain unseen, talking with a smile can still be heard. Excitement and interest are also evident on the phone. Sounding rushed or rattling papers or clicking on the keyboard all impede communication.

Focus on That Conversation

Many people talk without communicating because they’re doing other tasks. Great communicators don’t text or check email during conversation. They don’t look around for someone more important to talk to nor do they constantly glance at their watch. So don’t do this. When with a person or small group be attentive. If you need to move on do so by politely closing the conversation. Don’t get trapped; you do have the freedom to exit.

When you notice these behaviors in others you should also politely end the conversation. Communication involves two or more people who are fully engaged in that moment, who both contribute and listen.

Be an Active Listener

Most of these tips deal with sending communication, but you have a responsibility to be a good listener too. Don’t be forming your response as they speak. Don’t assume where they’re going conversationally and interrupt with a reply. Don’t ignore them and just say what you want. Listen, think on their words and then form a response.

Body language also communicates even if you aren’t speaking. As stated, the glazed look and perfunctory acknowledgements mean you aren’t listening. As you develop great listening skills others will notice and then actively listen when it’s your turn.

Be Clear with Facts

In more formal communication be sure both parties are on the same page. Clearly state detailed facts and ask the other person to repeat them. Know the fact itself and the reason behind it. A great practice is to write things down and get them signed off. This doesn’t have to be a binding contract, but it is a way to ensure you both understand.

Facts are very important when dealing with client projects, going over financials or giving your team instructions. You don’t have to go overboard; just be clear.

Summary

So try these out. You’ll cut down on misunderstandings and get to know others better. Effective communication will improve your business and social life. Thanks for listening. Now go communicate.