Every day we communicate–whether orally or written. Not a day goes by that we’re not communicating in some way with someone. If you work outside your home, you communicate with the people you work with. Orally, you talk with your colleagues, you present information in meetings, or you train your staff. With writing, you send emails, memos, and letters. You create proposals, articles, or books.
If you work at home, you communicate over the phone as I do with coaching clients, or you call vendors, customers, or associates. You probably spend a lot of time on the Internet maybe communicating by email or through social networking sites, blogging, or your website.
And if you’re not in the active workforce, you converse every day with family, friends, merchants, and people in the community. You email, write letters, send birthday cards, or write in a journal, where you communicate with yourself.
With all this communication in your life, how effective do you think you are? Do people always get what you’re saying? Do they respond as you expect them to? Do they ask a lot of questions for clarification? Do they completely misinterpret your intentions?
There are so many ways we can mis-communicate that effective communication should be a subject taught at all levels of education. So if you’re looking to brush up on your communication skills, here are some tips on how you can get more accomplished in your daily communication:
1. Set clear intentions
If you’re really clear about your message, more than likely the receiver will get it. It’s when you’re ambivalent or murky about what you want to say, that your communication falls short. It comes across unclear and causes mis-understandings and mis-communications.
2. Speak in common terms
Avoid jargon, catch phrases, and acronyms. I just cringe when someone who’s very technical starts spouting the alphabet at me, like URL, or DIGG, or PPC. I honestly feel that the Internet has spawned a whole new language and someone needs to invent a dictionary.
3. Tailor your communication to your audience
If you’re giving a speech to an audience, you will need to tweak it for different audiences. Distinctions can be made for different genders, ages, industries, and interests. A client of mine used to give talks on finding an honest auto mechanic, and you can be sure her talk was different for male and female audiences. The same in daily communication. Surely you speak differently to your children, spouse, teachers, friends, and family.
4. Show respect when you communicate
Your messages will be much better received if you do not use put downs, judgment, blame, or any other negative language. If you are communicating upset or disappointment, you will be far more effective if you explain what you would have preferred to happen. If you want to continue a healthy relationship with the person you’re addressing, share responsibility for the upset and offer corrective measures.
5. Communicate from “I”
I learned this a long time ago when I studied Compassionate Communication. If you want to be more accomplished in your daily communication, make statements that use “I” when you want someone to do something, correct something, or make changes. For example, if you are displeased with a purchase and burst into the local bakery shouting, “Your French bread is crap. It’s tough as leather,” you’ll probably not get the result your looking for. Instead you might say, “I was disappointed with the French bread I bought. It wasn’t as fresh as I would have liked. I would appreciate a replacement.” You’ll probably get what you want this time. Of course, there are many instances where using “you” is very effective such as in marketing messages. “You will be so thrilled when you work with us…” which is much more effective than promoting with “I am so good that I will transform your life…” See the difference?
6. Listen — communication is a two-way street
There is a deliverer and a receiver. Whether you’re talking or writing, there is someone sending a message and someone listening to the message. When someone is speaking to you, listen intently so you can respond appropriately. Too many people get caught up in what they want to say next and don’t listen to the person speaking. When you write to someone, if you are responding to an email or a letter, listen to what they said before you write back. If you listen well, then people will offer you the same gift of listening to your communications.
With a little conscious effort and attention to the way you communicate, you will quickly become more accomplished in your daily communications.
This article was written by David B. Bohl – Husband, Father, Friend, Lifestyle Coach, Author, Entrepreneur, and creator of Slow Down FAST.
Sign up for his online newsletter, The Bohl Report: Free Work-Life Balance, Productivity and Happiness Tips today.