Strategies for Communicating Effectively
Communication skills are among the most important life skills. Dale Carnegie famously claimed that 90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication. Likewise, Steven Covey believed that 90% of all relationship problems could be avoided if we communicate better.
They can improve your outcomes at work, at home, and in your social life. The greatest advantage humans have is the ability to communicate clearly and precisely. Therefore, effective communication skills are vital to our achievement.
Like many other important topics, communication skills aren’t taught in school. You must teach yourself. For this reason, helping people communicate better with practical techniques and tools is one of the focus of my coaching.
Just focus on the basics and you’ll be a step ahead of most others.
Communicate clearly and effectively with these strategies:
1. Listening is the most important communication skill. When you’re communicating with others, you’ll most likely spend half of your time listening. Others wish to be heard and find it annoying if you’re only waiting until it’s your turn to talk again. You learn more while listening than you do while speaking. Master the skill of empathic (or reflective) listening and you will instantly see the difference in your relationships.
2. Communicate with confidence. You’ll be viewed as more believable and competent if you appear confident. Speak slowly, clearly, and with conviction. Furthermore, confidence is a state in which you can access anytime when you've set a resourceful anchor.
3. Consider the non-verbal communication signals you’re sending. Ensure that your non-verbal communication is appropriate and you are present (and in the moment). You can convey authority, openness, or any level of formality through your body language. Non-verbal cues also helped build rapport between you and others. You will be surprised how much people will open up to you when you maintain eye contact, stand tall, and use gestures that match the situation.
4. Choose the best communication medium for the circumstance. You can communicate face-to-face, on the phone, via email, and so on. Depending on the matter at hand, one method of communication might be more appropriate than another. Choosing poorly can be viewed as disrespectful. For example, firing an employee or resolving a conflict with a spouse via text message is arguably inappropriate.
5. It’s important to communicate clearly. Clarity is perhaps the MOST important factor in judging the quality of a conversation. The whole point of communication is to receive and provide information. If you’re not clear, you’re failing to communicate effectively. Ensure that the other person understands what you’re intending to convey.
6. Be concise. Unless you’re chatting with a good friend, most people have something they’d rather do than listen to you. Avoid rambling and stay on topic. You’ll lose the other person’s attention if you fail to be concise. Get to the point quickly. It’s obvious when you’re beating around the bush and stalling. Say what you need to say with as few words as possible. Use metaphors - a picture paints a thousand words.
7. Think before you speak. When you speak too soon, you say things you don’t mean. Take the time to gather your thoughts. Consider how your words will be interpreted. Could you say it a better way? It’s easier to avoid misunderstandings than it is to fix them. Think before you open your mouth. Thinking fast on your feet is a learnable skill. What you need is an effective "thinking" framework.
8. Drop the fillers. Many of us have the bad habit of using filler words like “um” and “ah” when we’re thinking. Try being silent instead. Those that use filler words are viewed as less competent. You’ll have less ability to influence others. It’s also annoying when filler words are used excessively. This can be a very challenging habit to break. Engage close friends to point out your "ahhhs" and "mmms". Gamify the process - pay them 50cents every time you use a filler. I think they will gladly volunteer to help!
9. Give your full attention. Put your full focus on the other person. Put your phone away and avoid scanning the room to see what else is going on. Give the other person and the conversation the attention they deserve. Put your phone on silent. Change the setting on your smartwatch so others won't think you are looking at the time when a message comes in.
10. Have a purpose in mind. What are you trying to communicate? What is the outcome you seek? Know what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll be successful more frequently. Practice summarising the conversation at the end of a meeting or a discussion so there is no ambiguity.
The English language has roughly one million words, yet we still struggle to communicate effectively with others. Unfortunately, miscommunication has the potential to be damaging to both your career and personal relationships. Give your communication skills the attention they require. You’ll be glad you did!
Remember - hire a coach if necessary. I am always happy to help!