Effective Communication

Having worked with many entrepreneurs over the last couple of years, we can hearthandedly say that if there is one area where people struggle the most, it's effective communication!

Whether you realise it or not, you are always trying to persuade somebody to do or feel something. Everytime you open your mouth, you’re communicating something and you’re swaying people to feel one way or another about you or your ideas or products you are sharing. 

All too often, what you try to communicate gets lost in translation despite your best intentions. You say one thing, the other person hears something else, and misunderstandings, frustration, and conflicts ensue. 

Fortunately, you can learn how to communicate more clearly and effectively. Whether you’re trying to improve communication with your spouse, kids, boss, or coworkers, you can improve the communication skills that enable you to effectively connect with others, build trust and respect, and feel heard and understood.

What is effective communication?

Communication is about more than just exchanging information. It’s about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information. Effective communication is also a two-way street. It’s not only how you convey a message so that it is received and understood by someone in exactly the way you intended, it’s also how you listen to gain the full meaning of what’s being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood.

More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, engaged listening, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognise and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.

Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.

We would like to share with you 3 ways that can help you to communicate your message, service or product more effectively!

3 key skills to improve communication 

1) Become an engaged listener

People often focus on what they should say, but effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.

There’s a big difference between engaged listening and simply hearing. When you really listen—when you’re engaged with what’s being said—you’ll hear the subtle intonations in someone’s voice that tell you how that person is feeling and the emotions they’re trying to communicate. When you’re an engaged listener, not only will you better understand the other person, you’ll also make that person feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you.

By communicating in this way, you’ll also experience a process that lowers stress and supports physical and emotional well-being. If the person you’re talking to is calm, for example, listening in an engaging way will help to calm you, too. Similarly, if the person is agitated, you can help calm them by listening in an attentive way and making the person feel understood.

If your goal is to fully understand and connect with the other person, listening in an engaging way will often come naturally. 

Tips to become a more engaged listener?

  • Focus fully on the speaker, his or her body language, tone of voice, and other nonverbal cues. Your tone of voice conveys emotion, so if you’re thinking about other things, checking text messages or doodling, you’re almost certain to miss the nonverbal cues and the emotional content behind the words being spoken. And if the person talking is similarly distracted, you’ll be able to quickly pick up on it. If you find it hard to concentrate on some speakers, try repeating their words over in your head—it’ll reinforce their message and help you stay focused.
  • Avoid interrupting or trying to redirect the conversation to your concerns, by saying something like, “If you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” Listening is not the same as waiting for your turn to talk. You can’t concentrate on what someone’s saying if you’re forming what you’re going to say next. Often, the speaker can read your facial expressions and know that your mind’s elsewhere.
  • Show your interest in what’s being said. Nod occasionally, smile at the person and make sure your posture is open and inviting. Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” or “uh huh.”
  • Try to set aside your judgment. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone.
  • Provide feedback. If there seems to be a disconnect, reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” or “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back. Don’t simply repeat what the speaker has said verbatim, though—you’ll sound insincere or unintelligent. Instead, express what the speaker’s words mean to you. Ask questions to clarify certain points: “What do you mean when you say…” or “Is this what you mean?”

2) Pay attention to nonverbal signals

When we communicate things that we care about, we do so mainly by using nonverbal signals. Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, the tone of your voice, and even your muscle tension and breathing. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling than words alone ever can.

Developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and work.

  • You can enhance effective communication by using open body language—arms uncrossed, standing with an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to.
  • You can also use body language to emphasize or enhance your verbal message—patting a friend on the back while complimenting him on his success, for example, or pounding your fists to underline your message.


 Tips for improving how you can read nonverbal communication.
 

  • Be aware of individual differences. People from different countries and cultures tend to use different nonverbal communication gestures, so it’s important to take age, culture, religion, gender, and emotional state into account when reading body language signals. An American teen, a grieving widow, and an Asian businessman, for example, are likely to use nonverbal signals differently.
  • Look at nonverbal communication signals as a group. Don’t read too much into a single gesture or nonverbal cue. Consider all of the nonverbal signals you receive, from eye contact to tone of voice to body language. Anyone can slip up occasionally and let eye contact slip, for example, or briefly cross their arms without meaning to. Consider the signals as a whole to get a better “read” on a person.

3) Assert yourself

Direct, assertive expression makes for clear communication and can help boost self-esteem and decision-making. Being assertive means expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and honest way, while standing up for yourself and respecting others. It does NOT mean being hostile, aggressive, or demanding. Effective communication is always about understanding the other person, not about winning an argument or forcing your opinions on others.

To Improve assertiveness:

  • Value yourself and your opinions. They are as important as anyone else’s.
  • Know your needs and wants. Learn to express them without infringing on the rights of others
  • Express negative thoughts in a positive way. It’s OK to be angry, but you must be respectful as well.
  • Recieve feedback positively. Accept compliments graciously, learn from your mistakes, ask for help when needed.
  • Learn to say “no.” Know your limits and don’t let others take advantage of you. Look for alternatives so everyone feels good about the outcome.

We hope you have received some value from these 3 skills to implement into your daily communication and help improve the delivery of your story, message, service or product. We have said many times during our training videos that communication is the life-blood of any (business) interaction. When you truly connect with your loved one, that prospective client or a long-standing client - you will leave a lasting impression that will make them feel heard, seen and valued. 

We will leave you with one of our favourite quotes by Maya Angelou that sums up so beautifully this premise in one sentence, and certainly something to keep in the back pocket to remember!

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

 

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