Four Simple Methods to Improve Your Communication

Whether you’re a manager or an employee, you’re constantly communicating. You’re talking, making slide decks, 

When you’re communicating, everyone will benefit from effective communication. 

Making sure that your message comes across properly drives clarity. It drives productivity and effectiveness. You’ll be perceived as someone who comes across well. 

Yet, what you’ll see in practise is that most people are not aware of their own deficiencies. Neither do they spend time to become a better communicator. There’s a lot of fluff in emails, powerpoint presentations and reports. So there’s a lot to gain!

Refining your communication skills results in personal and professional growth.

These 4 methods make your communication more effective. Most are instant, some take more time. 

  • Practice active listening.
  • Be clear and concise.
  • Cultivate empathy.
  • Reflect and improve.

“Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” Stephen Covey— Tony Robbins (@TonyRobbins) July 16, 2012

Practise active listening

Don’t listen to reply. Listen to understand. This is an error I see a lot of people make. You can almost see it coming. Lips opening slightly, eyes widening. People tend to react first. Interrupt people when they’re speaking. 

So if you start to listen actively, with the intention to have a clear understanding of what the other person is saying, you’ll be infinitely more effective. Communication is a two-way street. It’s never one way. Never.

Here’s a simple 5 step way to do it:

  1. Listen actively. Listen to what the speaker is saying. No interruptions.
  2. Wait for a 3-5 second pause. Wait for a natural pause in the conversation.
  3. Paraphrase or summarize. Parrot back what you’ve heard, in your own words.
  4. Confirm your statements. Ask if that’s what they meant. 
  5. Be open to correction. If the speaker corrects or clarifies something, let them. 

And if they do correct you, it’s been super effective. You’ve managed to get rid of uncertainty at that point. Great no?

Habit 5: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood

Communication, specifically listening, is the basis for this habit.

Do not listen with the intent to reply, listen to understand.

Doing this is another great way to improving the relationship. — Book Quotes (@Strong_Mindd) April 21, 2022

Be clear and concise

Clarity in your messaging ensures that they’re easy to understand by the people that read, hear or see them. This seems like the simplest thing to implement but it can be quite hard. Lots of people – myself included – try to be thorough. They want to give all the information. But as soon as you step back and ask yourself if you’ve gone off on a tangent, you might see that you have. If so, try and figure out whether it adds to the main storyline, otherwise it’s fluff. You can always elaborate when you need to. Short and sweet is often better than 100% complete.  

A simple trick you can apply, is read your text out loud. If you find yourself stumbling over some sentence, it’s too long or too difficult. People like short sentences, they’re easy to read. 

Cultivate empathy

This skill makes for stronger connections and it resolves conflicts more effectively. It promotes a positive and supportive environment, which drives better communication overall. If people feel safe in their environment, they’re more keen to ask clarifying questions, which leads to more clarity. This, in turn, leads to more effectiveness and productivity. 

Empathy is created through showing an understanding and acknowledging emotions and perspectives of others. You can do this by trying to put yourself in the other persons shoes. By doing so, you can consider their feelings, needs and concerns. Active listening skills help a lot in practising empathy as by default, you’ll listen to them and acknowledge what they’re saying. It doesn’t mean you agree, but you display understanding

  • Empathy involves understanding and acknowledging the emotions and perspectives of others.
  • When communicating, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and consider their feelings, needs, and concerns.
  • Show empathy through active listening, validating their feelings, and responding with sensitivity and compassion.
  • Cultivating empathy in your communication fosters stronger connections, resolves conflicts more effectively, and promotes a positive and supportive environment.

Reflect and improve

After giving a presentation for example, reflect on your effectiveness. Ask yourself things like: Did your message come across? Did you have to explain a lot? Were you interrupted a lot? Have you encouraged questions and feedback? 

There’s no “one size fits all” tactic for reflection but that’s actually part of the beauty of it. Despite we all communicate all day every day, we’re different people. We have different approaches. And we have different ways of reflecting. It is however, good practise to deliberately reflect on your communicating performance if you want to improve. As long as you’re able to spot improvements, little or big, you’ll grow every day.

And you’ll get to be a better communicator along the way. 

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