10 Tips for Effective Communication

Posted by on Aug 19, 2011 in Career Management | 18 comments

What is effective communication?

Communication is the art of conveying information. Effective communication is essential for positive personal and professional relationships, and professional development and growth, and business success.

When we communicate, it is important that others understand our message. Being understood allows us to align mission, values and goals with co-workers, supervisors and customers. We can share our ideas and discover solutions.

How do we communicate effectively?

Effective communication in the workplace is important as we need to exchange ideas and convey information with many individuals to meet our individual and shared needs. It is challenging to communicate effectively with the many different styles and personalities we work with every day, and doing so is necessary for career success. Here are 10 tips for effective communication:

1. Be decisive.
Be clear about your thoughts and ideas, even if others disagree. Don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in.

2. Be specific.
Elaborate your position by using specific, descriptive language. Quantify your position whenever possible. Instead of, “your tardiness is a problem”, say, “you were late 3 times last week”.

3. Be concise.
Don’t over explain. Say it once, elaborate only if necessary, and leave it be.

4. Trim your hedges.
Leave out the following hedging language: I think, really, sometimes, just, somewhat, kind of, sort of, maybe, might.

5. Be confident.
Don’t minimize and undervalue your experience and opinions. Avoid using phrases such as, “I’m not sure., This is probably a stupid idea, but…, I thought, maybe…” You don’t know everything, but you do know something!

effective communication

6. Own your beliefs.
Your perspective is unique, and influenced by your experiences, thoughts and feelings. Don’t assume what is true for you is true for everyone. Your beliefs are your own and you’ll go a lot farther in communicating if you take ownership of your beliefs. A good start is using “I” statements.

7. Share information.
Sharing information promotes trust. When you share information, people will open up to you and be more inclined to share valuable information with you.

8. Address concerns.
Acknowledging complaints and addressing concerns directly can diffuse conflict, and guide solutions.

9. Make a common call to action.
Speak to shared goals and values and you’re more likely to be heard.

10. Listen.
The point of communication is to convey information, not change attitudes or opinions. Speak your mind, and listen to what someone else has to say.

I love your comments! What’s your biggest communication challenge? Have you learned something new? I want to hear from you!

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18 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness… I’ve practiced some of these without really knowing what I was doing and why it was working but it really makes all the difference in the world. I especially love, and need to remind myself, that over explaining things is unnecessary and ineffective! Great post!

    • Karen,

      I’m happy my post inspired you. I also tend to over-explain so this is something I’m working on myself. I’m come across a lot of great information about effective communication lately and wanted to write more about it. I’m certainly learning a lot as I research and write for my blog.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  2. Chrysta,

    I agree with everyone. This was a great post! I am an advisor/instructor. A big part of my position is communication and listening. I think we all can constantly improve our communication with others.

    • I am still learning to be a great communicator; I think we all are! Life is more fun as long as I continue to be teachable and open to new wisdom.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  3. Hey Chrysta, great to be over at your blog.

    Regarding effective communication, I agree being clear is very important.

    sometimes I have to admit I have difficulty not over explaining. I have worked with so many people over the years who pay no attention to detail and to be honest I think it ruined me… and perhaps left me a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to getting the message across! (LOL)

    I do believe that when I worked away from the home, although I loved my staff, when I think of it now, I know there were times I might have been a little too much to the point.

    I have done some pretty stiff re evaluation though this last few years and put that down to being worn out. Since I’ve undertaken some personal growth I do believe I am better at ‘firm’ yet clearer communication.

    I need practice holding my ground sometimes when it comes to my kids, and I always think personal relationships can use continuous practice in effective, clear and tender communication.

    That is why re visiting these points you have laid out for us is always a good thing.

    funnily, while I was away holidaying :-) I was going through my personal development CD’s and picked up some awesome ideas to share about relationships and communication. I have taken pages of notes and can’t wait to share them as I do believe communication along with compromise are paramount when it comes to any relationship (work or otherwise).

    Thanks for such a well written and beneficial post.

    Best

    Jayne

    • Thank you for your awesome comment, Jayne!

      I am also guilty of over-explaining from time to time, especially if/when the person I’m speaking to doesn’t seem responsive or receptive to what I’m saying. I used to think by repeating myself people would understand me better; now I realize that repeating myself muddies my message and may cause another person to feel verbally bullied. Sometimes I can focus too intently on getting my point across instead of finding out more about my recipient’s point of view.

      All relationships take practice and ongoing improvement of communication skills. I love writing and reading lists such as this because I can easily refer back to them when I’m unclear or unsure what to do.

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. I think my biggest problem is sometimes I have trouble holding my ground. At times I can be swayed, especially if a person is looking for sympathy or someone to support them. So I guess as you mentioned in #6 I need to own my beliefs.
    Funny because I had not thought about this until reading your post. I actually thought I was a pretty good communicator, just goes to show we can always learn more.
    Thanks!

    • Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      I was prompted to write this post after attending to a few presentations recently on leadership. The presentations were great and helped me realize my communication skills could use improvement. I like having a list to refer to when I’m drafting an email, presentation or blog post. I am working on being more concise as I sometimes repeat myself- saying something once is enough (and saying it more than once can feel like verbal bullying to my audience).

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hey Chrysta,

    Excellent post young lady, great job!

    Let’s see, I’ve NEVER had a problem with communication. As a matter of fact, I’ve been told I’m way too blunt sometimes. That’s why I always tell my friends and family that if you don’t want to know my honest opinion, don’t ask me. Trust me, you’ll get it whether it’s what you wanted to hear or not.

    As far as in the workplace is concerned, you gave us some very good tips. I also agree with Luke about always smile. But of course you probably knew I’d say that.

    The only thing I might add is just be respectful of others. I have always treated people the way I want to be treated. The most important one of all, listen. You’ll go a very long way if you just listen more.

    Great job Chrysta, like I would expect anything less from you.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Adrienne!

      I have always appreciated people who are honest, even to the point of being blunt. I like having everything out in the open and speaking frankly. No wonder we get along so well! :)

      I agree being respectful is the difference between being blunt and rude. I try to treat everyone with respect at all times, including respecting and appreciating differences between people.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  6. Excellent tips chrysta. This reminds me of a module I had to take up when I first started off my work. Thanks.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Eddie!

      I love re-visiting topics I’ve learned before as this helps me practice what I’ve learned when I might otherwise be tempted to fall back into familiar patterns.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  7. Hi Chrysta,
    I used to be more reserved in voicing my opinions at the workplace. It wasn’t until I couldn’t take it anymore that I learned to speak up and value my own opinions.

    Being a business owner the only people I have to communicate with is my clients but effective and open communication is still needed.

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Justin!

      I have learned that it’s important to voice my opinion in the workplace- about workplace topics, of course. I leave personal and political issues at home.

      It’s also important not to consider my opinion as the ultimate truth as I’ve seen over and over again there are many paths to success. My experience is not the only experience and someone else may offer an equally great solution.

      Voicing my opinion at work is challenging for me- especially learning to do it in a respectful and open manner without wanting to convince others to follow my lead. Communicating with customers can pose this challenge as well. Clients choose a service provider for their skills and expertise and, as such, their opinions are valued by the client. At the same time, customers have their own opinions and vision for their business and/or have limitations on their resources (money, time, location, etc.). Offering advice must be handled mindfully for the best outcome to the service provider and client.

      I’d be interested to hear more about your experience communicating with clients.

      Be grateful,

      Chrysta

  8. I think, really, sometimes, just, somewhat, kind of, sort of, maybe, might like this post :) (but am not sure and i think it isn’t the best idea)

    Seriously though. Good tips. I would add “try to smile always” or maybe not always but starting a conversation with a smile is very helpful.

    • Thanks for your great comment, Luke! You certainly made me smile today.

      And you bring up a great point about smiling. I had a conversation yesterday with a high powered executive at my company and thought to myself that conversations with this individual often seem intense. I can only imagine how differently the conversation would have felt if it started with a smile.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  9. Chrysta, aloha. Absolutely love this post because your 10 tips are clear, compelling and communication necessities.

    Chrysta, for me effective communication begins with #10 Listen. Far too often people are so intent on jumping in with what they have to say that they miss the point of what the other person is saying. Effective communication is output and input rather than simultaneous broadcasting.

    #2 and #3 always resonate with me because if a person is specific in what they are saying or asking, it is ever-so-much easier to respond appropriately. If we are concise, it is easier to keep the attention of the other person and have them keep valued feedback. The more a person elaborates, the more they muddy the water and the more apt the listener is to respond to the muddy water rather than the original topic.

    Chrysta, while I did not learn anything new from your list, prior to it I did not have organized list to share with people. Since I frequently speak with people about effective communication, your post will be a big help because I can have them read it and start the discussion AFTER they read your post.

    Well done, Chrysta. Best wishes for a terrific weekend. Aloha. Janet

    • I am grateful for your lovely comment! Thank you, Janet!

      I agree that listening is often overlooked in communication. I could have made the list much longer, of course, and gone into effective methods for listening, but I think that’s so much it’s another post all by itself!

      I admit I do not always effectively practice being decisive and concise. I have room to grow in those areas, which is why this post was so fun for me. There’s really nothing like writing about a topic to fully explore and express new (and previously known) ideas.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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