Effective communication is important to building strong relationships and succeeding in business. It's a combination of good speaking and listening skills that leads to clear, concise communication at work and personal relationships.
Effective Verbal Communication
People will remember what's said during an office meeting or a casual conversation, so it's important to practice communicating effectively. A few verbal skills to practice include:
Volume - Speak at a decent volume, being careful not to go too low or too high. Loud speaking volumes may come off as aggressive or give the impression of anger or dissatisfaction. Low volumes can cause people to miss important information or tune out of the conversation because it's difficult to hear.
Speed - Faster speech can cause people to lose track of what's being said or forget important details of a conversation. Consider pausing occasionally to catch people's attention and help them retain information.
Emphasis - Stress the words people should remember or to get a point across. Emphasis can be repeating words or phrases or saying something slowly or a bit louder to ensure everyone understands.
Importance of Nonverbal Communication
Nonverbal communication includes gestures, stance, eye contact and voice inflection. Nonverbal communication can actually be more important than the words said. Only eight percent of communication is related to content, notes Kenneth H. Cohn, surgeon and author of Better Communication for Better Care. He goes on to say that tone of voice and body language also play a part. When speaking in a business meeting or casual conversation pay attention to hand gestures, facial expression, stance or posture and tone of voice. Gestures and body language can display confidence in an interview, knowledge about a subject or show compassion or understanding during a conversation. Nonverbal communication also reinforces verbal communication, which is why it's important to pay attention to nonverbal cues so that listeners don't receive mixed signals.
Importance of Listening Skills
One of the greatest barriers to effective communication is poor listening skills. Many times communication is ineffective because someone wasn't listening properly. With technology within easy reach, it's easy to become distracted when someone is speaking and misunderstand what was said or miss out completely on important parts of a conversation. When listening to someone speak be sure not to interrupt but rather take notes of questions to ask later. This helps the speaker maintain good conversational flow and doesn't cause distractions that could lead to miscommunication. While listening, be sure to pay attention to nonverbal cues and tone of voice to better understand the meaning behind the communication. Being a good listener is one way to overcome stumbling blocks of communication.
When composing an office memo, email or letter, it's important to write clearly and concisely. Information needs to be organized and all main points should have bullet points or emphasis. With a lack of nonverbal cues, written communication isn't the medium to express emotion or convey information that invokes an emotional response. Use written communication to clarify information or to send clear, concise instructions.
Reviewing Communication with the Speaker
It's a good idea to review what's been said to ensure understanding. There's nothing wrong with asking questions or repeating information to make sure it's correct. Miscommunication often occurs when something is misunderstood, so clarifying information is a good way to ensure everyone is on the same page.