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effective communication

Keep Calm, and Communicate More Effectively

Feeling heard and understood is a basic need felt by most people.  Learning how to effectively portray your thoughts and emotions to others can be challenging for some, while it comes very naturally to others. Regardless of the ease or difficulty you feel when communicating, I am sure you can agree that it is among one of the most valuable skills you can have at your disposal in work, life, relationships, and more.  When you are communicating with someone, you are doing so more for the other person’s benefit than for your own:  YOU already know what you mean, your thoughts, your ideas, and how you feel about them.  The other person doesn’t have a clue about how you really feel about a given topic, until you share those feelings with them.  Without the use of effective communication, someone may never know what you are really trying to say, and unfortunately miscommunication may happen.  There have been many times in my work (and personal) life where it seemed impossible to get someone to see things from my point of view, even though I felt sure that my opinion was reasonable and accurate…this was due to my own missteps in trying to communicate for my own purpose, and not trying to help the other person understand my points through these key steps.

More effective communication in a few easy steps

  • Try to clearly and succinctly state your point or feelings on a topic. The saying goes:  “if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t really know it well enough yourself.”  Try to keep this in the back of your mind, and communicate your thoughts and ideas in a simplistic format – don’t assume that the other person (or people) have a clue of where you are coming from.  Lay things out clearly, from start to finish.
  • Non-verbal cues can indicate how you feel about what you are saying. If you are showing impatience through an eye roll, or frustration through the tone of your voice, you are less effectively communicating your true point, and your partner in this dialog may become defensive as a result of your non-verbals. Don’t get frustrated or impatient with the people you are communicating with; if they don’t understand your point, feelings, idea, etc., it is your responsibility to explain it in a way that they can better understand.
  • Different personality types can communicate in very diverse ways. For example someone with a very analytic or detail-oriented personality may need you to provide a lot of details and clarifications on a topic, to ensure they fully understand your point.  Whereas, a more laid back, nurturing, and calm person may want you to slow down and explain things clearly, at their pace, including your feelings on the topic, without rushing.  Communicating effectively for the other person’s benefit can involve learning the most effective means of interacting with them and effectively speaking their “language”.
  • Build trust through communication. This may mean disclosing something personal, or even unfavorable about yourself, to help your conversational partner meet you on some common ground. This is a not a tactic or a scheme to be “faked” – if you need to build trust in order for a conversation to move forward productively, do so in a genuine and truthful way.   Don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep, or you will lose any trust-equity you’ve attempted to build through your dialog.

Are you just waiting for your turn to talk?

  • Listen. Communicating your point is only half of the equation, however, learning to be a great listener is the other piece of the communication puzzle. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak in a conversation, practice active listening. Let the other person know that they are also being heard and understood.

While not everyone is going to agree on every topic, that doesn’t mean that they won’t understand where you are coming from, if you simply and effectively communicate your thoughts in a clear and unassuming way.

How good are your communication skills?  What tips would you recommend for communicating more effectively?


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