How to Communicate Effectively

staff writer
How to Communicate Effectively

Communication is a very important skill that’s useful for all aspects of life. To be successful, a person has to know how to communicate effectively to get his message across and be understood. Everyday conversation, small talk, greetings, handshakes, nods, smiles, electronic means of sending messages, all are ways we communicate with one another. For the most part, these are enough to relay information or even just show a sign of kinship or recognition. But when there are important things to discuss, significant decisions to be made, sensitive negotiations to do, effective communication skills are called for. The following may help you to communicate effectively:

  1. Recognize your goals. Identify your objective for your communication. Do you want to get a raise? Do you need to relay bad news? Do you intend to propose marriage? All of these have different aims, and each must be conveyed in ways that are suitable and applicable to the particular situation. So you need to identify your goals and plan what to say accordingly. If necessary, you can write down your goals and provide supporting reasons or arguments to back up your statements.

  2. Know your audience. Whether you are speaking to a group of people or a single individual, you need to know specific things about your audience that will increase your ability to meet their needs and help them receive your message positively. An audience composed of a labor union, school teachers, your family members, or your sweetheart will all require a different approach, language, and degree of preparation. Respect the needs and communication requirements of your audience, and they will reward you with their attention, possibly their applause, and, more importantly, their action in response to your message.

  3. Know your message. Once you know your goals and know your audience, craft your message. You have to know your subject inside and out. You have to know how your target audience is likely to respond and what they want to hear versus what you are actually going to tell them. Move to shorten the gap between expectation and reality and couch your message in a good light. This way your audience will know you took the time to prepare for them. They will respect you for it.

  4. Function with the best of manners. Kindness and courtesy will go a long way. You can say good news badly, and you can convey bad news well. Be careful with your choice of words, tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions, and body language. Everything should work together to reinforce your message. It is important to be tactful, sincere, kind, and courteous.  When the message has a tendency to be unwelcome, be sure to relay it with the utmost grace. There’s no need to increase somebody’s anguish by being impolite when a few kind words can greatly take the edge off a bad situation.

  5. Know your limits. Determine the length of time it is acceptable for you to talk and don’t overstay your welcome. Remember “KISS” – “Keep It Short and Simple.” Once you have conveyed your message, assess your audience to determine if they’re still willing to listen.  Then you can add more to help convince them about your message. But if they have lost interest in what you’re saying, then cut your losses. It’s better to leave an audience hungry for more than to make them sick of you. And the latter happens too quickly, too. If you turn your audience off of you, they will most likely close their minds to your message as well.

Communication is a skill we humans develop after birth. But it’s how to communicate effectively that we need to learn more as we grow older. Fortunately, we can always develop in that area by following the steps above.

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