Merriam-Webster defines Communication as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. to someone else.”
Basically, communication is how we interact with everyone. It is a vital part of our everyday lives, from family, friends, and coworkers to strangers passing by. Some people are great communicators; others, not so much. Either way, we all have to communicate somehow.
Think about your favorite people to interact with or listen to. Why are they your favorite? What is most appealing about them and the way they communicate? Now, flip that and think of your most dreaded person to interact with. Why do you dread talking with that person? What do you want to change? Below are 5 tips on how you can become a more effective communicator in all aspects of your life.
5 Tips for More Effective Communication
- Simple, Transparent and Concise – Make a plan or overall goal for the communication. What is the message and what is the purpose (goal) of the message? Organize your thoughts and flow so when you present your ideas, your audience stays with you. People do not need extra information that does not contribute to the understanding of the message. Extra “fluff” may confusion your audience and you lose your effectiveness. Being prepared will also help you stay on task to keep the conversation moving and have an effective communication.
- Stop, Look, and Listen –
- Try to pause while you are talking. Give your audience a chance to take in the information and digest it.
- Watch your audience for non-verbal clues. Are they actively listening, nodding? Or doodling on their paper, distracted with their computer or other people around them? If they are not paying attention, then the conversation is pointless. Ask them if there is a better time to go over the information.
- If it’s a difficult conversation, watch their body language so you can adjust your approach if need be. Be aware of your body language as well, including eye contact. You do not want the information to be misinterpreted due to your stance, tone or volume of your voice. Your delivery can drastically impact the understanding of your message.
- Consistent and Courteous – The goal is to align your words with your actions. If you are telling employees they have to be on time, yet you stroll in 10 minutes late every day, your message is a moot point. Keep your message the same to everyone. The approach and delivery should be catered to the specific audience but the overall information should be the same. Two additional points to consider:
- When deciding on your approach, be aware of your audience’s mood and how they may take the information. Be courteous of their feelings and possible reactions.
- Also, be respectful of their time and thank them. Time is precious, and you do not want to waste their or your time with drawn out conversations or emails.
- Make It Your Own – Try to personalize the message. If you regurgitate the same information, in the same way as everyone else, it’s boring. Your audience may not pay attention or really understand the message. Be authentic to yourself and your personality and let it show! This will create level of trust and honesty. Your audiences with get a better sense of you which will help build a stronger relationship and create effective communication. Be cautious of using technical terms or slang. Not everyone may know what those terms mean.
- Be Open to Feedback and Questions – It’s great that you got your ideas and information out but be cognizant that people might have questions. They could be looking for more clarification or to recap the conversation. Be open to the questions and answer them as honestly as possible.Also, ask them questions. Do not hesitate to recap your message and inquire if they really understood the message. Most people want to help, so when they offer feedback, listen to them. Take in the positive and negative to help hone your skills to become a more effective communicator.
The key to success (in my mind) is effective communication. Whether you are talking to your coworker, boss, client, spouse or child, you have to be able to express your ideas and thoughts effective and efficiently. Misinterpretations and misunderstands cause so much extra stress and turmoil. Imagine if everyone was clear, concise and honest. Your day would transform! Be the leader and set the bar high.