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A Guide on Developing Effective Communication Skills

By Charlotte

Communicating is very easy but effective communication which is an everyday affair whether at the job side or in your immediate environment may be very complicated. Some people are very good at communicating i.e. having clear and good conversations with someone and they are said to be good at interpersonal skills. Effective communication is a very essential skill which can be gotten by anyone through persistent practice in order to improve their interaction either with their colleagues or at home. Different tools are proposed to improve our ability to communicate and on acquiring effective communication skills in our daily affairs and especially at work.

Communication is the act of transmitting information or knowledge to someone. Effective communication is therefore a give and take sharing process with one person sending out a message that could easily be understood by the receiving person. Effective communication is a vital skill which is fundamental to success in everyday life which is developed through a persistent activity and honed for better understanding therefore no one was born with this skill but the consistent practice of this activity leads to good development of communication skills. Most at times, people who are good communicators usually enjoy interpersonal relationships with friends, colleagues and family. Effective communication is not passive, predictable or a one way event. Rather, it is an active process which is influenced by the complexes and ambiguities of human behavior. Considering the different audiences your ability to communicate should be based on the fact that not everybody is from the same background and has the same perspective of what you want to send across. In order to be an effective communicator, interpersonal and communication skills are needed which are ranked among the most crucial skills for work related success.

Steps on improving effective communication skills

Effective communication skills could be developed by constant practice and there are various ways in which these skills can be improved.

Continuous Practice

Improving effective communication skills starts with practice over and over on the message we want to send across mostly for those giving out talks or presenting a power point. They should be able to make short scripts and also take down notes which will direct them through your presentation. No need to think that they are experts already and have no need for short scripts during a presentation. Experts are only recognized by their good, clear and straight to the point presentations and not graded on whether they use scripts or not.

Be a Listener

Also to improve effective communication skills, there is need to be a good listener and not to impose your ideas to others. Try to understand your audience needs and try as much as you can to answer their needs. Do not get to a local community where filters are not known or have never been seen and expect them understanding anything about filter usage for filtering drinking water forgetting to find out that they had always lived on their spring water without filtering; then you start telling them “if you do not get filters in your community typhoid would be persistent”. Instead teach them other simple and affordable means of treating their water example by boiling without imposing a particular good on them.

Mutual Respect

Effective communication can be improved by having mutual respect for each other and on their opinions. Even if you are not in accord with someone’s point of view use polite words to get it across to the person rather than belittling the persons own idea. Tell your audience their own story to get them into the scene and get rid of all unnecessary conversation filters like the Em’s, Um’s, Ah’s etc

Exhibit Attentiveness

Effective communication skills could be improved by being genuine with the person you are discussing with and avoid arrogance and aggressive. Give the person your full attention because it could be very rude to be communicating with someone with all his attention on the phone or someone is talking to you and you are busy trying to answer a mail or make a call.

Eye contact

Eye contact is very important in improving effective communication.

 

Smile

A smile also spices the message you want to get across. Getting any message across, the communicator must be open minded, adapting readily to any situation and most of all be very friendly.

How to become an effective communicator

Effective communication is being catalyzed by an effective communicator. Becoming a good communicator requires some basic tips. First, the communicator must be very confident in himself/herself and in the message which he/she wants to get across. Avoid making insensitive statements which are not called for. If you are not sure of a message, do not say it or be sure that you would not transmit it correctly. This will make your audience immediately doubt your credibility. An effective communicator should avoid taking risk in communicating thinking that because I did some courses in that I can easily transmit the information across without proper practice.

An effective communicator should be humble and not allow his job and title (Sir, Pr and Dr) to define his personality. A good communicator should always ask open ended questions to the audience to make some points very clear to the audience. They should also expect questions for proper feedback and his answers should be clear, understandable and alert.

An effective communicator who is a friendly person, keeps eye contact with the audience, keeps their voice loud and animated using the appropriate volume for the setting. The communicator should easily adapt to any situation and try as much as possible to create a personal relationship by thinking on how the message would impact the other person’s life. This is mostly done by marketing agents who when advertising their products spend time explaining to the buyer the benefits he would get by obtaining their product.

An effective communicator should always fix a target on how he wants his message to get to the targeted audience. To achieve this, feedback should be gotten to see if the message he was giving out went through. They should be able to read the body language of the people they are dealing with because non verbal words speak more than verbal words. They should also be able to understand postures and the signs made by people to better communicate with them.

Effective communication tools:

Effective communication is often done by assembling the right tools, understanding these tools and their uses. To effectively communicate to have a good feedback, some effective communication tools are summarized as the 5 M’s of communication (NCAI, Communication Pyramid) and using these tools facilitates the communicator to achieve effective communication, and also it could improve effective communication skills. These tools are:

  • Messages
  • Market
  • Messenger
  • Medium
  • Materials

Message:

The most important tool of effective communication is the message. The message which is to be communicated should be persuasive, short, clear, precise, concise and free of all ambiguities at every level whether at the local community, urban community or a scientific community. The longer the message the more people drift their minds away from the message sent out. This will result in poor understanding therefore a poor feedback. Most often, the message we want to get across to our audience should have a main point we want to send across. It should have a connection with your audiences.

Messenger:

To effectively communicate, a good communicator or a middle man is needed especially in a work milieu when someone wants to get a message across mostly to a local community or rural community. Putting this message to the required audience needs someone who best understands the people and whom the people trust to tell them back their story. Translation can be done in the mother  tongue in order that the people understand exactly the message which was directed to them and see their benefits too especially if they notice their child or someone of their own is already with the communication team.

Market:

The targeted population through which you want to take your message across is known as the market. Knowing your market is very important for any information you want to take across for effective communication. Before preparing your message being a good communicator you have to do a little research on your audiences and find a way around to get their attention mostly by knowing their history and creating a story (story telling) that fits the audience for a better feedback.

Medium:

How your message is delivered matters a lot. For effective communication skills, find out if the medium you want to use to get the message across to this audience is present in the area where the audience would gather and if the medium would allow the communicators’ message to be well gotten across.

Materials:

Materials are used based on the medium you have chosen to use. If the communicator is a scientist and  would use a power point to better express what he has for the audience, he must first check if the necessary materials are available in order to best communicate e.g. light availability, projector, an environment where all these could be set up etc.

All these communication tools are very necessary to improve effective communication, also a good communicator has to adopt these tools as it answers all the who, what, where, when and how questions of your message and how this message effectively reaches the audiences you are targeting. It also contextualizes the message and increases the impact of the message.

Effective communication skills at work:

Effective communication at work is very important especially as it deals with people from different cultural backgrounds, different educational views and different societies. Having effective communication skills at work, you must respect each other’s personality and their ideas in general. Don’t be a person who would comment on everything whether good or bad (Mr. Know all). To cultivate effective communication skills at work, be a person who shares relevant ideas with co-workers and avoid thinking that you would hit the jackpot by saying it only to the boss. A good communicator at work is obviously a good leader and being a good leader you take the lead when it concerns work and be behind when it is crediting time. A good leader should always show examples and be ready to take the blame if work is poorly done and they should not try to cover themselves and pour the blame on their co-workers.

Good communication skills at work is when the leader does not promise things if they cannot actually do them by wanting to make themselves feel important or trying to prove to the other colleagues you are better off than them. When communicating especially in a team work, always have it in mind that no idea is irrelevant or stupid. When working in a team, communication can only be done after all members of the team have concluded on what to say to the audience and not when someone feels he already understands everything and starts talking directly to the audience without prior review and conclusion from the team.

Having good communication skills at work requires positive critics to be done at the right time. They should give valuable take away i.e. constructive criticisms and not condemning what another co-worker has said with no contributions or no reason. They should be a unifying voice and not the cheap gossip that can never tell you something to your face for you to learn but would only wait when you are not available to talk on your back.

Developing good communication skills at work environment requires that you do not make your co-worker feel you are not interested in his point of view but you want him to accept your own views. This prevents the message getting across thereby hindering good interconnection between co-workers and making the working atmosphere a tensed and a non conducive environment for full potentials to be put in.

Communication is very important in every society, in our everyday life, in our day to day approach and the different ways which we perceive things in this life. Communicating with someone can be very easy in understanding someone’s point of view, getting to read people’s minds and what they are thinking about anything. When communicating with people, keep calm, be simple and get things from all angles. This brightens your ideas about things you did not know and improves the ideas you have on the things you know. Effective communicators are therefore open minded people and do not bring in bias in whatever thing they are doing. Learning effective communication skills, how to improve your communication skills and the tools which can be used for effective communication is therefore very vital in whatever you are interested in as it enhances your interaction with people, goes a long way to increase your yields especially for business persons and impacts the lives of others.

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