“There are some people who could hear you speak a thousand words and still not understand you. And there are others who will understand – without you even speaking a word.” – Yasmin Mogahed

Communication is exchanging information and ensuring that the listener understands the emotion and intent behind what is said. Because communication is usually a two-way process, how you listen to gain the full meaning of what’s being said and to make the other person feel heard and understood is equally important. More than just the words you use, effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, engaged listening, managing stress in the moment, the ability to communicate assertively, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re speaking with.

An effective communicator will deepen his/her connections to others and will make an effort to improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving. Sometimes, the communicator is required to share negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust.

There are all kinds of ways to deliver good news/bad news. Most include:

  • Verbal: face-to-face, telephone, radio or television and other media.

  • Non-Verbal: body language, gestures, how we dress or behave.

  • Written: letters, e-mails, books, magazines, and social media.

  • Visually: graphs and charts, maps, logos and other tangible materials.

I find that to become a good communicator we must first learn how to listen. Actively listening can move a conversation along in the right direction. You’ve seen those people who can’t wait to get the next word in a conversation. If you are already planning what you will say while someone is speaking, how can be an effective listener? Pay attention not only to the words but also to the feelings behind the words. Consider the emotional impact that your conversation or presentation will have on others. How you communicate will invariably get you the results that you desire.

In today’s world we communicate in bits and bytes. We text and send emails in a cryptic language that most can’t decipher.

A good communicator will take the time to frame a message clearly, concisely, and directly. Here are a few pointers:

  • Before conveying a message, a speaker should think carefully about the message that he/ she wants to share and then select the words carefully.

  • Be prepared to tailor your content and style to your audience and keep it simple so it’s easily understood.

  • Always use appropriate body language when face-to-face or lecturing to a group.

  • Always maintain good eye contact.

  • Avoid interrupting. It’s just rude. It communicates to the other person that what you have to say is much more important.

  • Paraphrasing and restating comes in handy if you aren’t sure the other person understood what you said. Try saying something like “So, what I hear you saying is that when I’m late and don’t tell you that, you worry. Did I hear you correctly?”

  • We don’t like it when people make assumptions or presume they know what you are about to say, so don’t do it to others… roll your eyes as if you know what’s coming.

  • Emotions can be very effective in communication, but if you are angry about something, give yourself some time to cool off so when you need to make an important point, you will be heard.

  • You don’t need to win every argument. Successful relationships must have some give and take. Saying you are sorry or that maybe you were wrong doesn’t take your power away. It shows that you are human.

  • Be mindful of what you have to say and don’t let the television, your cell phone, or other distractions keep you from giving your full attention to a conversation.