Communication is easy. Effective communication is a skill. But A skill that can be learnt and taught nonetheless! There are two sides to effective communication;
- Knowing what effective communication is
- Putting it into practice
We communicate literally hundreds of times per day, between, written, verbal and non-verbal, there is a frightening amount of ways you are consciously and subconsciously communicating. Set aside the practice part for now, what does effective communication look like, what does it mean to be an effective communicator? Below we have listed 6 key points to being an effective communicator.
1. Get personal
Make sure you are aware that effective communication is only as good as how it’s received by the listener. Make sure you establish a personal connection between you and the audience by understanding how your message impacts the other people involved. The key to effectively being personal, is realising that people don’t care about what you’re saying unless there is something they find of value in what you have to contribute! Take the time to fully understand how what you communicate can add value, or bring benefit to the audience!
2. Be Factual
Nobody cares what you have to share unless you have the facts to back it up! Or you’re at least willing to admit that you’re not sure about what you have to say! Be controlled in what you say, and be prepared that what you have to contribute is worthy. If you don’t have the correct information to back up what you’re saying, you’re better saying nothing at all! It’s a hard reputation to shake once you start sharing information that has no basis!
3. Be Specific
Don’t show off, if you have something to say, say it clearly and concisely! Understand the value of direct, and specific communication, save people the time and energy of trying to figure you out, and just be clear! There is really no other way to put it!
4. Ask Questions
Great communicators know the power of questions. Questions inspire though and invite collaboration. Not only should you use questions to ensure people are understanding what you’re saying, but also use questions as a stimulus to allow people to digest and explore what you are saying.
5. Ask for Clarification
Whilst it’s important to ensure people understand your points when communicating, a good communicator also takes the time to explore and understand the points of others. Communication goes two ways, and a great communicator understands the importance of clarifying the communication of others. If you aren’t sure what someone means, ask for clarification! Simply asking “What do you mean?” is not only an effective way to understand better, it’s also a great way to keep a conversation moving forward.
As above, communication goes both ways, take the time to listen and understand what others have to say, feedback, and contribute at all times. Listening also means you are ready and able to respond correctly to any points fired your way. Learn to actively listen, digest, and understand what others have to say!
Fight Those Habits!
Now into the fun part. Application. The number one stumbling factor in developing as a communicator is fighting the habits that have been established through years of communicating! With years and years of unhealthy habits and go to reactions, it can be a pain implementing new initiatives when it comes to communication. This is where it becomes a bit of a battle.
You can try and use logic, desire and common sense, but even this won’t defeat the habits you already have. Author Octavia Butler said, when asked why she was so prolific: ‘Well, first, forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. It will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not’.
The best way to beat those old habits and replace them with new healthy communication, is this;
Start now, right now! Identify exactly what needs to change, and secondly, the next time you’re going to be the situation where this habit you want to change would normally creep up on you!
Constantly remind yourself about your change! Place sticky notes, write notes in places you usually look. Just place reminders in your way on a consistent basis to jog your thoughts about the change you are making! When it comes to habits, reminders are the key, it’s too easy to slip unknowingly back into your old way!
Be accountable to someone else, involve someone you trust in your new initiative. Ask them for their help in keeping you on track, and pulling you up if they notice you're slipping back into the old habits!