Every living being communicates. Dogs bark, birds sing, and primates use hand gestures and noises akin to speech. Effective communication is needed in all areas of life. Paul Meyer describes communication best when he says, “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal career success.” While basic communication skills are inherent, advanced skills that lead one to becoming a great communicator takes practice.
Effective communication begins with listening. Too many times, people are either thinking about their responses or about something else entirely, and they fail to completely listen to the other person. By doing this, you lose focus on the conversation and may find out, in embarrassment, that your response is completely off base. When you are not listening, you are creating a one-sided conversation that shows others that you really do not care about what they have to say. Showing a genuine interest in learning what others think and feel about any matter they find worth discussing will place you in a position to be the one they go to for encouragement and to brainstorm solutions to difficult problems – because what you say in response will all of a sudden matter, too.
Focusing on your interactions shows respect. Checking emails, texting, or engaging in social media while in a conversation is rude. Great communicators respect those they are with by putting away or turning off their electronic devices when engaged in conversation. One-on-one conversations are becoming a lost art because of the ease of technology. Eliminate the distractions and hone in your listening skills.
When communicating to anyone be specific. Make your message clear. Doing so ensures that you are heard and understood in the way you intended. If giving instructions, provide details in order to avoid confusion and ensure better outcomes. When setting up appointments, be specific about your availability and give details about the time, location, who else will be in attendance. Frustration occurs when specific details are not shared and people have to go back and do something that could have easily been done correctly the first time.
While being specific is very important, it is also important to simplify your message. Make certain that what you are communicating is understandable. If the thought is confused in your mind, it will most certainly be confusing to the person you are communicating with. Take the time to think through what you need to convey. Pauses should not be feared, especially if that pause helps you communicate your point clearly and more effectively.
Finally, ask questions. Great communicators ask questions and they are not afraid to get specific. Taking a genuine interest in learning more about people and what they think, feel, and experience helps keep the conversation going and shows that you are engaged. People appreciate it when someone wants to get to know them better and the knowledge gained through great interactions can help you further yourself both personally and professionally.
Effective communication is a great skill for everyone to have. It is also a necessary skill in order to get along successfully in the world around you. It is a lost art by many that can be easily revived by practicing your listening skills, being specific, and asking questions.