Every living being communicates. Dogs bark, birds sing and primates use hand gestures and noises akin to speech. Effective communication is needed in all areas of life. Paul Meyer best described communication…”Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” While some communication skills are inherent, becoming a great communicator takes practice.

Effective communication begins with listening.

Too many times people are thinking about their responses without completely listening to the other person. By doing this, you lose focus on the conversation and may find out…in embarrassment…that your response is completely off base. When you are not listening, you create a one-sided conversation.

Focusing on your interactions shows respect.

Checking emails, texting or scrolling through Instagram while in a conversation is rude. Great communicators respect those they are with by putting away their phones or turning off the computer or television when engaged in conversation.

One-on-one conversations are becoming a lost art because of the ease of technology. Eliminate the distractions and hone your listening skills.

When communicating to anyone…family, colleagues or large groups…be specific.

Make your message clear. By doing so you will ensure that you are understood. If giving instructions, provide details in order to avoid confusion. When setting up appointments, be specific about your availability. Frustration occurs when specific details are not shared.

While being specific is key, it is also important to simply your message. Make certain that what you are communicating is understandable. If the thought is jumbled in your head, it will most certainly be confusing to the person you are communicating with. Take the time to think about what you need to convey. Pauses should not be feared. Especially if that pause helps you communicate your point more effectively.

Finally, ask questions.

Great communicators ask questions, specific questions.  Learning more about people and their experiences helps keep the conversation going and shows that you are engaged. Knowledge gained through great interactions can help you further yourself in your personal and professional life.

Effective communication is a great skill for everyone to have. Practice the lost art of conversation by listening, being specific and asking questions.

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