Improving Communication – 7 Most Effective Communication Skills and Techniques

  • Post Written by Jai Kai on December 21, 2009
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photo courtesy of nordio

Effective communication is by far the most important skill needed to become successful at anything. For most of us, our journey in life consists of a series of interactions and relationships with others. We spend most of our time communicating with the people around us; our colleagues, our families, our political leaders our teachers, our students and even strangers.

Our ability to communicate effectively has been eroded by a world that is plugged-in, fast-paced, visually driven, and constantly stimulating. In an atmosphere where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, it is getting harder and harder to successfully capture people’s attention so that they listen, understand, and are persuaded by the message you are conveying.

So, how does one go about improving communication so they can communicate  in the most effective and efficient way? For the scope of this article we will focus on traditional and personal face to face communication. We can discuss technological – phone and internet communication in a future article. However many of these communication skills and techniques will apply.

Here are 7 extremely important and effective communications skills and techniques you will need for improving communication.

1. Listen. Understand that communication is not a one-way flow. It is extremely important to listen to whom you are communicating with during your dialogue. If you are speaking first, give the other person sufficient time to respond and really listen. If the other person speaks first then again really listen to what they have to say before you respond.

2. Focus. Concentrate on what to say, how to say it, and how to present it in a way they will understand. Present one idea at a time and check for understanding before proceeding to the next point. Present your ideas in a logical, organized fashion.

3. Relax. Take a deep breath and release yourself of tension before you speak. Talk in a kind, non-offensive manner so they will really listen to what you have to say. People always love to listen to others who are warm and friendly.

4. Convey Passion. Illustrate that you are genuine, authentic and passionate. Like great leaders people will always listen to others who speak with passion. To do this be open with your body language. Face the person or people you are speaking with and make good eye contact. Keeping your arms and legs uncrossed generally conveys accessibility and an open attitude.

5. Slow down. Often, people speak to fast and it is hard to really understand them because they use too many words. Speak clearly, concisely, completely and concretely. Say what you need to say with as few words as possible. Proceed slowly.

6. Ask. Always ask questions to address their concerns or opinions on the topic and conversation. Just like this blog, give them the opportunity to leave feedback or comments.

7. Listen. I am making this point again because successful people understand that being an effective communicator is really about being able to persuade and influence people. They understand that listening is just as crucial to successful communication as speaking is. Listening is the key to understanding what motivates the person or people you are reaching out to – namely, their self-interests. You must be an empathetic. By listening effectively, you can find common ground with which to build a connection or a relationship. Again, ask questions and find out what the other person’s values are. Speak to them according to their values. Pay attention when the other person is speaking by not interrupting and use body language such as nodding, leaning toward and asking questions at an appropriate time. It is also useful to summarize what has been said to ensure that everyone is on the same track.

To start you way on improving communication, ask yourself these questions: Do people listen when you talk? Do they understand you? Do you get what you want? People pay attention because they are interested in who is speaking and how and what it is being said. Using these points outlined here can dramatically increase your level of success in all areas of your life

A valuable exercise : Have a friend or someone you are comfortable with, make a video of you making a short presentation. Seeing yourself through the eyes of another, in this case, an impartial lens, is a mind-opening exercise. Watch out for unnecessary verbal and body cues that creep into your speech. Repeat this as often as is necessary. Remember practice makes perfect.

Real long lasting success is based on open and ongoing effective communication. Only in this way can you build trust, rapport and come to a shared understanding with others. And, only then, can you build successful partnerships and relationships.

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2 Comments on “Improving Communication – 7 Most Effective Communication Skills and Techniques”

  • Madeleine said:

    Jai, You’re absolutely right that communication is the most important skill one needs to be successful. In a company with many engineers, for exmple, those who communicate well will be far more successful than those who are only average (or below).

    I have become a much better communicator (both in speaking and listening) through years in Toastmasters. It’s interesting that you suggest having someone film you while you’re mking a short presentation. We routinely did this in one TM group to which I belonged for years. At first, it’s difficult to watch oneself, but it gets easier. And it’s such a terrific way to get better and better at communicating.

  • John said:

    Hi Jai, you’ve included some really good tips there. And I see you’ve included my favourite one – twice. Listening!

    Listening is such an important part of communicating. We have 2 ears and 1 mouth but so often people forget they have ears!

    All the best.

    John

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