Effective communication is a vital skill. It can make political deals go smoothly, save relationships and ensure that family life is a life of peace and harmony. Whether you want to clinch an important business deal, work out an issue with your partner, or just let a waiter know what your dietary requirements are, it is very important to be able to communicate effectively.
What is communication?
Communication is a two way process: it involves giving information to other people, but also receiving information from them. Communication can be done face to face and in person or it can be done via media such as the phone, video-chat, email or letters.
Effective communication can be defined as a communication process whereby each of the people who are communicating knows what the other is trying to say. One result of effective communication tends to be the fact that a decision is reached amicably. Another result could be the resolution of tension, or simply a state of greater mutual acceptance and understanding. As you can see, effective communication is a very useful tool!
10 Ways to Communicate Effectively
Here, we provide you with a very useful 10 point guide to communicating effectively. Read on to brush up on your communication skills, and try and use some of these hints and tips in your everyday life.
1. Know what it is you want to say.
In order to communicate effectively, it is essential to know exactly what it is that we want to communicate. Before you attempt to communicate, therefore, take some time to collect your thoughts. It may help to write them down beforehand, or to practice saying aloud what it is you want to say in private before you actually say it to the other person.
2. Take control of your emotions.
When we are angry we can blurt out things that we regret later, and when we get upset we might share something that we wish we had kept private. So, before you begin to communicate with the other person, make sure that you are in a calm, level state of mind. Take a few deep breaths, go for a walk or meditate a little to get into the right frame of mind for a peaceful and effective discussion.
3. Think about what effect your words may have on them.
Take some time to empathize with how the other person may be feeling now, and also how they are likely to feel once you have spoken. Is there anything you should change about what you are going to say in order to avoid hurting or upsetting them necessarily?
4. Find the right time and place to communicate.
Sometimes, communication is urgent – the time and place is now! If your friend is about to step off the sidewalk as a car veers round the corner, for instance, it is essential to communicate the danger to them right away. However, for other acts of communication, you can spend a little more time finding the best spot to talk, and the best time to do it in. Somewhere quiet and neutral where you can talk without being overheard, such as a quiet park bench or your front room, is a good option, for example. Talk, call or write when you know that the other person has time to communicate with you – not when they are super busy doing other things. Let them know that you have something to say to them, and that you will welcome their response.
5. Say what you have to say.
Speak or write the words that you had prepared, calmly and gently. Look the other person in the eye and stay calm and non-threatening throughout.
Now it is time to pause. Communication is as much about listening as it is about talking, and silence can be a very important part of the whole communication process. Listen to the other person’s response to your words. Do not interrupt them but let them have their say. The only exception here is if they are being very insulting and upsetting: at this point, you are within your rights to explain to them that you are ending the conversation because of their rude or nasty behavior, and to take yourself off somewhere peaceful where you can collect yourself.
7. Recap what they have said.
Show that you have listened to the other person by recapping what they just said. Ask them to clarify anything you didn’t understand. Ensure that you are both on the same page.
8. Try and reach an agreement.
Identify what the main issues are and recap each of your feelings about them. Give the other person space to add to this part of the discussion too. Think together about what the best solution to the issues would be.
9. Thank each other for listening.
Thank the person you have been speaking with for communicating with you. Reassure them that their communication was appreciated and welcomed. Tell them that you will stick to the solutions you discussed – and make sure you do stick to them!
10. Keep the channels of communication open.
Communication should be an ongoing process. A follow up call, text or chat is often a good idea in case either of you has any further thoughts on the issues that you were communicating about.
Effective communication is very easy when you know how to do it. You can apply the 10 tips for effective communication listed above in any number of situations. For instance, you can use them if you need to tell your boss that you are having a problem at work, with your partner if you think that there is an issue in your relationship that you really need to resolve, or with one of your professors at university if you need a little extra help with your learning.
Is there anyone that you wished you communicated with a little more? Do not bury those issues and let them bubble up and gather resentment the longer that you do not speak about them. Instead, communicate freely, calmly and kindly with people to ensure that issues are resolved as soon as they arise. Trust us, this is the route to a happier and more peaceful life!