Every relationship, whether personal or professional, thrives on our ability to communicate effectively with other people. Conflict, distrust, low self-esteem, broken relationships including loss of time and resources are some of the negative impacts of poor communication. In fact, a recent research by Cass Business School, London reports that UK businesses lose £2.7B on the average, every year, from poor communication practices.
Here are some practical ways we can improve on our communication skills
Practice good listening skills
According to the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply. This justifies why our interactions usually turn out badly. When we listen to understand, we pay close attention to the message that is being sent and give appropriate responses. Good listening skills is developed with practice and time, and when mastered fosters effective communication.
Use simple words/signs
When addressing an audience, it is key that you know what you want to say and express it in simple, unambiguous and easily discernable words or signs. Limit your use of jargons or superior vocabulary to when interacting with colleagues who are likely to understand you, otherwise you might end up giving off negative impressions of yourself. You want to consider the capacity of your audience and meet them at their level.
Feedback is simply affirming that the message conveyed was well understood and would be rightly interpreted. Avoid sending incomplete messages while presuming that the other person fully comprehends your thoughts. The sender should seek feedback while the receiver should provide same or seek clarity for the communication process to be complete. This will ensure that there are no misconceptions, instead, there is common understanding between both parties.
Make “I” statements instead of “you” statements
In their book, Saving Your Marriage before It Lasts, Drs. Less and Leslie Parrot say that using “I” statements instead of “You” statements is a better way of expressing hurt or disappointment. For instance, instead of saying, “You drive me crazy”. Say, “I feel hurt and neglected when you don’t ask my opinion.” The first statement dispenses information to be understood and will elicit concern, while the second presents information as an attack or criticism and will provoke a defensive reply. “I” statements are much more effective because they allow for messages to be completely heard and understood.
It has been said that nonverbal methods of communication, such as body language, tone of voice, gestures, eye contact, and etc. account for about ninety three percent of the message. Therefore, we can learn to use them too to our advantage.