How to Become an Effective Communicator
Jennifer Ulrich on Friday, April 6, 2012
I came upon this great article from Forbes that talked about communication skills and thought it would be beneficial to share with our readers. Without getting into great depth I’d like to review the ten tips on how to be an effective communicator that were highlighted in this piece. This is a long one, but I believe you will find these principles useful in all aspects of your personal life and professional career. First, I would like to share this insightful note, I believe it is an excellent summation of what makes a great communicator:
The number one thing great communicators have in common is they possess a heightened sense of situational and contextual awareness. The best communicators are great listeners and astute in their observations. Great communicators are skilled a reading a person/group by sensing the moods, dynamics, attitudes, values and concerns of those being communicated with. Not only do they read they environment well, but they possess the uncanny ability to adapt their messaging to said environment without missing a beat. The message is not about the messenger; it has nothing to do with messenger; it is however 100% about meeting the needs and the expectations of those you’re communicating with.
The following ten principles may act as a guideline for improving how you communicate in your personal and professional lives. Afterall, being able to effectively communicate is a vital aspect for success.
1. Speak not with a forked tongue: Interactions with others that do not involve a certain level of trust may not have the same results as those that do. This philosophy takes into account the element of decision making in various aspects where others are involved.
2. Get personal: Developing relationships with business cohorts is important to how effectively you communicate with them. This can be taken into account when dealing with co-workers, suppliers, or customers. Understanding what is valuable to those you are working will guide you to make better decisions on their behalf or when relating to them.
3. Get specific: “Simple and concise is always better than complicated and confusing.” This is an excellent comment, whether communicating verbally or in writing it is important to know how to deliver the message clearly and not waste people’s time with non-essential details. While there are times that thoroughness is required you should be able to interpret the difference and focus on the primary goal of the communication.
4. Focus on the leave-behinds not the take-aways: Number four tells us that even in situations where you intend to collect information be sure that you are still focusing on conveying the right message. A particular type of event that comes to mind in my daily tasks is initial interviews with suppliers and customers. While we participate in these events to gather information from the other party we also want to ensure that both parties leave the conversation with a clear concept of what the end goal was at that instance as well as what is next to come. Additionally, an effective communicator will have made certain that both parties clearly defined their wants, needs, and desires.
5. Have an open mind: Simply put, do not enter into communications guarded or with too many pre-conceived notions. The most effective communications are those that entail an open dialog and the desire to share ideas, not thwart them.
6. Shut-up and listen: Ahhh, this is my favorite. We often get so caught up in making sure that we are delivering our intended message that we get lost in it. This principle relates to getting personal with your audience. By listening first, we determine the direction the conversation should take. This will allow you to communicate your message in a way that will more likely get through to the audience.
7. Replace ego with empathy: “Empathetic communicators display a level of authenticity and transparency that is not present with those who choose to communicate behind the carefully crafted facade propped-up by a very fragile ego.” In other words, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance so tread lightly.
8. Read between the lines: This principle is similar to Shut-up and listen, communicating effectively does not include over-running a conversation with your own thoughts, ideas, and aspirations. Remain astute and alert to all aspects of the situation, including body language if you are live and in person. The most effective communicator can absorb subtle hints of inspiration simply by having a heightened awareness.
9. When you speak, know what you’re talking about: This one seems quite obvious to me, no one is going to take you seriously if you do not have subject matter expertise at some level. This is more important at the start of a new business relationship than ever. As noted previously people will not accept you if they do not trust you, one way to inspire trust is by effectively conveying your knowledge and not “BS”ing your way through a conversation.
10. Speak to groups as individuals: Number ten speaks to communicating with a group as effectively as you would with an individual. Tailoring your message to the audience as best you can in any situation involves knowing something about the audience and what they are expecting from you.
11. Bonus – Be prepared to change the message if needed: Adaptability is a trait that is very valuable in a professional setting. This principle also goes back to having a heightened awareness during an active communication so that you can take a sharp right turn if needed to ensure that the message is still effective. All in all, if you follow every other principle listed it could all be a waste if you cannot interpret how to drive the message in the right direction consistently throughout the communication.
By following these principles you are well on your way to becoming a very effective communicator.