Communication

The ability to communicate is among our most important life skills. Being able to communicate effectively has the ability to outcomes at work, home, and as well as in your personal life. The greatest advantage that humans have is the ability to communicate clearly, effectively and precisely.

Like many other important topics, communication skills are not often taught in school. English is taught, but we are rarely given the tools to use it to our advantage. We must teach ourselves. Fortunately, there are many courses, books, and seminars that cab help us to learn to focus on building communication skills. Focus on the basics first, and you will be miles ahead of most people.

You see, communication is not about being able to throw around big, complicated words. But, this is precisely where many people begin their journey. They spend hours looking things up in thesauruses and dictionaries to find a more difficult and intriguing word, a catchier way of saying something. The new words may indeed sound intriguing to the listener. However, what usually occurs is that many people will stumble on that word and never hear the rest of your sentence or question.

I recently sat in on a C-suite interview, and the person spoke at length about a new word they had learned during their interviewing process. While this was an interesting two minute diversion, it communicated nothing to the audience about their skills, nor their ability to perform the job in question.

If people cannot easily understand what you are saying, then you are not communicating. You are speaking to yourself and allowing your ego to run your show for you.

The key thing to remember about communication, in both our personal and professional live is that, if we are not understood correctly, then we have not communicated!

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How Do I Communicate More Clearly?

1. Listen

  • Listening is the most important communication skill you can learn.
  • When you are communicating with others, one-on-one, you should spend most of your time listening.
  • Others wish to be heard and find it irritating if you are simply waiting until it is your turn to speak again.
  • You learn more while listening than you do while speaking.
  • Take listening seriously.

2. Speak confidently

  • Communicate with confidence.
  • You will be perceived as being more believable and competent if you appear confident.
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and with conviction.

3. Check you body language periodically

  • Consider the non-verbal communication signals you are broadcasting.
  • Make sure that your non-verbal communication is appropriate and confident.
  • Maintain eye contact, stand tall, and use gestures that match the situation.
  • You can convey authority, openness, or any level of formality through your body language.

4. Pick the right vehicle

  • Choose the best communication medium for the circumstance.
  • You can communicate face-to-face, on the phone, via email, etc.
  • Depending on the matter to be discussed, one method of communication might be more appropriate than another.
  • Making a poor choice can be viewed as disrespectful. For example, breaking up with your girlfriend via text message is a cowardly and disrespectful approach to someone you have care about in the past.

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5. Be crystal clear

  • It is important to communicate clearly.
  • The whole point of communication is to receive and provide information.
  • If you are not being clear, you are simply failing to communicate effectively.
  • Ensure that the other person absolutely understands what you are intending to convey.

6. Stay on point

  • Be concise.
  • Unless you are chatting up a close friend, most people have something they would much rather be doing than listening to you.
  • Sidestep rambling and stick with the topic.
  • You will quickly lose the other person’s attention if you fail to be succinct.
  • Get to the point quickly. It quickly becomes evident when you are beating around the bush and stalling.

7. Think first

  • Think about what you wish to communicate before you speak.
  • When you speak too soon, you may say things that you do not mean.
  • Take the time you need to gather your thoughts.
  • Consider how your words will be interpreted.
  • Is there a way to say it better?
  • It is much easier to avoid misunderstandings than it is to try to fix them later.
  • Think before you open your mouth.

8. Drop the fillers, please!

  • Many of us have the bad habit of using filler words like “um” and “ah” when we are trying to think and speak simultaneously.
  • We mentally cast about trying to access the correct information, but we fell compelled to filled the silence with our “ums..” and “wells..”.
  • Nothing is lost by taking a short pause rather than trying to fill the space with verbal garbage that only makes you look bad.
  • Try being silent instead.
  • When we use a lot of fillers, we are perceived as being less competent.
  • This habit also diminishes our ability to influence others.
  • It is an annoying distraction when filler words are used excessively.
  • This can be a very challenging habit to break.
  • You will have to purposely monitor yourself closely for several weeks to seek significant progress. Getting coaching help will also pay huge dividends if you feel stuck.

9. Pay attention

  • Give your full attention to what you are involved.
  • Put your full focus on the other person to whom you are speaking, whether it is an individual or an audience of many.
  • Put your cellphone away and stop scanning the room to see what else is going on.
  • Give the other person and the conversation the attention they deserve.

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10. Know your purpose

  • Have a specific purpose in mind.
  • What are you trying to communicate?
  • What are the outcomes you seek?
  • Know what you are hoping to accomplish and you will be more successful more often.

The language has millions of words, yet we still struggle to communicate effectively with others.

Miscommunication has the potential to be damaging to both our personal and professional lives.

Today, start giving your communication skills the attention they need.

You will be pleased you did!

Photo Credit: TED Conference via Compfight cc