Even in today’s electronic age, effective interpersonal communication skills are a key factor in your professional and personal success. Unfortunately, communication doesn’t come naturally for everyone. The good news is that you can learn good communication skills by learning from the best communicators. Consider these 10 characteristics of effective communicators that will help you improve your own communication skills.
A Clear, Concise Message
No one likes a rambler, so have your primary purpose in mind when you begin your communication. Simplify your thoughts, so you can present your point in a precise manner. Once you have made your first important point, move on to the next.
Understanding of the Recipient
Effective communicators know who they are talking to, and they understand the style of communication will vary based on the recipient. For example, you probably talk to your co-workers very differently than you talk to your boss.
Empathy for the Recipient
Empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Effective communicators always see the situation from the perspective of the other person, including the emotions that might be involved with the message.
Communication isn’t all about talking to someone. Effective listening means really hearing what the other person is saying as well. Paraphrasing the message and repeating it back to the individual will let you know you understood their point accurately. It also shows that you care enough about their message to get it right the first time.
Asking for Clarification, when Necessary
Effective communicators aren’t afraid to ask for clarification if they don’t understand the message they are receiving. When you ask for clearer understanding, it shows that you really care what the person is talking about and ensures the conversation proceeds appropriately. Clarification can come from paraphrasing what you heard the other person say or simply asking him to relay his message in a different way that is easier for you to understand.
Adherence to the Facts
Effective communicators are much more interested in passing of facts than assumptions or gossip. Avoid the rumor mill at all costs, and unless you can verify your information through the original source, do not pass it on to others. If you are conveying a message from another person, it is also important to get that person’s permission to do so before passing the information onto others.
Awareness of Body Language
Body language makes up a large percentage of our messages, so effective communicators learn how to tune into the nonverbal message they are sending. Make eye contact with the person you are talking to as much as possible, particularly when that person is speaking to you. Avoid potentially offensive body language like fidgeting, biting your lip or rolling your eyes that might convey boredom, cynicism or lack of honesty.
Provision of Proper Feedback
When you offer feedback to another person, make sure it is constructive. Feedback is important to maintain a positive conversation and ensure you are both on the same page. Feedback might involve requests for clarifications, questions to expand a particular message, or constructive criticism about another’s performance. Pepper potential criticism with plenty of positive feedback so the recipient is more likely to hear your message and take it to heart.
Inclusion of Praise, when Appropriate
Effective communicators know how and when to offer praise. Positive feedback is always welcome, as long as the recipient knows it is authentic. When you praise another person, be specific in your compliment by linking it directly to a specific activity or attribute. Praise someone publically whenever you can, and make sure the praise coming out of your mouth is genuine. When you must convey negative information or criticism, try starting out with praise and ending with a positive statement. This “hamburger” approach usually helps others take criticism in stride.
A Positive Attitude
No one likes to listen to a complainer, so effective communicators work hard to keep their messages positive. Instead of using phrases like, “I can’t” or “We won’t” in your conversations, focus on what you can do for others. Even if you cannot grant a request the way someone hopes, keeping your message positive will allow the other person to accept your “no” with grace.
Effective communicators are typically the successful people in life that others admire. If you would like to join this elite group, practice these tips to improve your own communication skills. The improvement in your professional and personal relationships will make the work on your communication worth the effort.