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Sunday, February 26, 2017

What is Effective Communication?

Effective communication is an important life skill that enables us to better understand and connect with the people around us. It allows us to build respect and trust, resolve differences and foster environments where problem-solving, caring, affection and creative ideas can thrive. Lack of effective communication inadvertently leads to conflict and frustration.

Some ideas to communicate effectively:

  • Eye contact - Don’t stare your audience down, but maintaining eye contact tells them you are listening.

  • Talking with your hands - Use your hands to emphasize your key points.

  • Avoid extraneous sounds - If you constantly hear “um” or “you know” it is distracting from the important points.

  • Pause momentarily before responding - You are probably thinking of a response before the other person has even completed their thoughts. Instead, pause, think, and really understand what was just said. Then formulate your response to convey your thoughts.

  • Don’t rush - Like the idea above, slow down and pay attention. Just that little bit of time could end up making a huge difference.

  • Be trustworthy and honest - If you are honest and trustworthy, you don’t have to worry that you may say something wrong. These traits are really important when it comes to communication.

  • Adapt your ideas to others - When you get an idea, you form a mental picture. There will be times that you will not be able to convey that picture to others. So you will have to find a different way to share your idea so that it is understood. This means you have to know your audience.

  • Stay in the moment - You must not get distracted. You must pay attention to your audience.  You have to be there when you are speaking and listening. Try restating the idea as you understand it before inserting your idea.

  • Be patient and open-minded - Understand that you may not be communicating as effectively as you’d like. Be patient with both yourself and your audience. Keep an open mind. Communication is always possible. Look for new ways to share and understand.

  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues - This is important. It is important to listen, but you also must see. Be conscious of your non-verbal cues and watch for those of your audience. Those cues may actually say more than the words being spoken. During email communication, these nonverbal cues cannot be seen. That is one big reason emails can communicate the wrong information.

  • Don’t assume everyone understands - Follow up. Did you really understand the conversation? Did your audience truly understand?

  • Hone your skills - Ask for feedback from your audience. Ask for suggestions to make yourself better a better communicator.

Have you made an effort to communicate more effectively? Which idea above are you willing to try?


  1. This is an excellent article. I especially like the parts about talking with your hands and reading body language. I will definitely work on talking with my hands, since I notice how effective it is when I listen to others. I do read my audience's body language. It's fairly easy to tell when I need to switch things up when the audience begins to wiggle in their chairs.

    Great article for chapter presidents.

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