10 Ways to Communicate Effectively
- Pause before responding. I don’t know about you, but I’m often in a rush for something and whenever I’m trying to communicate, I’m usually trying to do so quickly. As hard as it is for me to just pause sometimes, I’ve actually found that it works wonders when it comes to communicating more effectively with others. Sometimes just that tiny break, giving you time to think, is just what you need to really understand what someone else has said or to formulate the thoughts you really want to convey.
- Be trustworthy and honest. When you’re trustworthy and honest, communication becomes a lot less complicated. You don’t have to think about what you’re going to say wrong and you don’t have to worry about uncovering a secret or a dishonest statement. If you remain open, honest, and worth of trust, you’ll have a much easier time communicating with others and others will be a lot more willing to communicate with you. Words like “trustworthy” and “honest” are thrown around a lot, but they really are valuable and they are particularly important when it comes to communication.
- Don’t rush communication. This goes back to the point that came up in #1. When you’re rushing and trying to get through your communication quickly that’s when things can go wrong. Often when we’re in a rush, we forget things or misplace things and the same goes for when we’re rushing through any type of communication. So next time you find yourself communicating with someone else, slow down and really pay attention. Taking just a little extra time could end up making a huge difference.
- Adapt your ideas to others. When we come up with an idea, we often have a set image of it in our minds and that image isn’t always easily conveyed to others. If you really want your ideas to be heard, you have to work with the person you’re speaking to and find a way to communicate that idea in a way s/he will understand. This means you have to take the time to get to know your audience if you really, truly want to be able to communicate with them effectively.
- Stay in the moment. You know I love this one! When you devote your full attention to the person or people you are communicating with, you’re more likely to have much better results. I know for a fact that’s very, very true. Whenever I’ve gotten distracted and stopped paying attention to the person I’m communicating with, the communication as quickly gone south. If you want to communicate your thoughts effectively, you have to stay in the present moment and really be there when you’re speaking and listening.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues. This is essential when it comes to effective communication. So much of what we say is actually not said, and if you want to understand what others are really thinking or saying you have to do more than just listen. You have to look and experience too. It’s very easy to say something and not really feel it so it’s very important that, when communicating, you look both at your own non-verbal cues and those others are sending you. There’s a lot to be said for what’s not really being said.
- Intend to understand. This idea comes from Stephen Covey and focuses on the concept of listening to actually understand what is being said, rather than listening just to respond with what you want to say. This can be a tricky thing to do if you’re anything like me, always ready to respond with your own opinion. Too often we’re not really trying to understand what others are saying but instead are trying to find a way to jump from their points to our own. Next time you’re communicating, do what you can to really work on understanding what others are saying.
- Be patient and open-minded. Communication, even the easiest of communication, can be tough at times, which is why it’s so very important to be both patient and open-minded in your interactions with others. Recognize that you might not necessarily be communicating as effectively as you’d like and remember to also be patient with yourself. No matter what the situation, there is a way to communicate — sometimes it just takes time. Be patient and keep your mind open for new ways of sharing and understanding.
- Follow up after communicating. To often we assume that whatever we’ve attempted to communicate was received just the way we sent it and, unfortunately, more often than not that’s just not the case. If you’re communicating with someone (especially if it’s important!), make sure that you follow up after you’ve communicated. Assuming that your message was heard and understand is a big no-no in the effective communication world. No matter how obvious your message might seem, it never hurts to follow up!
- Ask for feedback from others. When it’s all said and done, one of the best ways you can learn to communicate more effectively (particularly with specific individuals) is to ask for feedback. Take some time to speak to those who you communicate with frequently to find out how you can improve on your communication with them. Sometimes all it takes is a few suggestions and you’ll be on the road to creating a better understanding with someone else. It’s not always easy to ask for feedback, but it’s worth it!
Communication can be tricky at times (especially if you’re in a situation where you need to communicate difficult topics or discuss hard-to-grasp ideas). There are many ways communication can be made ineffective and it’s all too easy to let effective communication skills slip through the cracks. However, if you really want to make the most of your life and you want to continually strive to improve your relationships with others (and with yourself!), you must stay on top of your communicating game. Pay attention to how you communicate with others and also pay attention to how others communicate with you. You may have learned a thing or two from this post, but you can always learn more and one of the best ways to learn is by observing and then taking action. So pay attention to what’s going on around you and what choices you’re making when it comes to communicating with others; being more aware will help you be more proactive in your effective communication efforts. Now go on — get out there and communicate!