Essential Tips for Effective Communication
How to Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is essential in all aspects of life. It is needed to maintain personal relationships between friends and family, and in professional areas whether you own a business or work in a customer service environment.
If communication is not effective, the message being sent may not be received as intended and it can cause relationships to break down.
So what is communication?
Communication in its most basic form is the process of one person sending a message, and another person receiving said message and responding to it.
From this definition, communication can be broken down into three parts. Below are the three parts, and things you should take into consideration to ensure effective communication.
- Speak clearly and concisely in order to convey information
- Be aware of any "road blocks" that may stand in the way (language, accents, lisps, age)
- Think about your use of vocabulary and make sure it's not too complicated for people to understand
- Easy to do, but a rather difficult skill to master effectively
- Remember that conversation is a two-way street
- Focus on the speaker so that they have your attention and you can understand the information being delivered
- Ignore any possible distractions that may deter your focus
- Acknowledge in one way or another that you have received the message
- Ask questions if you are unsure about anything or have misheard
- Use body language (nodding, head shaking) if necessary to confirm you have received the message
The 9 C's of Communication
The 9 (formerly 7) C's of Communication are great guidelines to remember and follow when you are striving for effective communication. When communicating, remember that the point you are making needs to be:
If you adhere to the guidelines above, your communication will greatly improve and there will be minimal chance of the message you are sending being misinterpreted.
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Communications Skills Checklist
Below is a checklist that you should consider to make sure that you are communicating effectively. By answering the 7 questions below, you are covering yourself from all angles and eradicating the possibility of your message being confused or misunderstood. Use this checklist as a basic guide to establishing effective communication.
Who's my audience?
- Knowing the audience that you are trying to deliver a message to will help you identify the correct way to address them. Your approach to communicating with a person or group may differ on the type of person or people you will be addressing. Should you be formal or casual? Brief or in-depth? There are various factors that will determine the way you approach a group. These may include, but will not be limited to age, gender, beliefs, class, education level...
What relationship do I have with them?
- Think about the relationship that exists between yourself and the person or people that you will be addressing. A professional relationship will differ in approach to a personal one, and you will have to think about the best ways to deliver your message to different people. You wouldn't communicate with the CEO of a company the same way you would with your best friend, for example.
What's my intention?
- What are you trying to achieve with the message you are sending? Once you have identified the intention behind the communication you will be establishing, you will have a clearer idea on the best way to deliver your message. Think about your goal and then think about how you will reach that goal through effective means of communication.
How should I communicate with them?
- What is the best way to communicate with your target audience? This should be a lot clearer once you have answered the questions above. Will just verbal communication be enough or will you require visual aids? Will more or less body language help to convey your message?
What barriers to understanding exist?
Are there any barriers that exist that may hinder your chances of effectively communicating with your audience and if so, how will you overcome those barriers? Barriers may include language barriers, difficulties with hearing or sight, etc.
Have you used plain English?
- Have you delivered your message using words that everybody will understand? It's no good using overly technical terms to an audience that won't know what those terms mean. Make sure that everybody who is receiving the message you are sending can understand it.
How can I check understanding?
- What is the best way to check that people have understood your message? One of the easiest ways is to ask questions that prompt a response. A simple "do you understand?" or "does that make sense?" can go a long way. If you think you may have lost people along the way, offer the chance for people to ask questions on things they are unsure of.
Think Before you Speak
By putting all of the above tips into practice, you will improve your communication skills and find that you are communicating effectively and efficiently, and eliminating any road blocks or problems that may have been standing in your way before.
Through analyzing your audience and the relationship you have with them, you will find the best way to approach communicating with them and find the correct way to deliver your message in a direct and efficient manner.
"Think before you speak" is a great phrase to adopt when it comes to effectively communicating with different people in different situations. By thinking about the information contained in this article and using the checklist and 9 C's of Communication, you should find that communicating effectively is easier now than ever before.
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