So, how do you do it? How can you change a life-time of communication habits to become an effective communicator? It takes time, effort, and a commitment on your part, but you can do it faster than you think. Here is a five-step path you can use to increase your effectiveness at communicating with others.
1) Listen carefully and with empathy. Understanding another person requires empathy: the ability to look at the situation from the viewpoint of another person. Having empathy does not mean that you agree with that person’s viewpoint, but that you understand it. Then, you can formulate what you have to say so that your message may be heard by the other person.
2) Organize your ideas. If you present your ideas in an organized way you will, more than likely, be understood.
3) Tap into the other person interests, which you will have a handle on if you have listened carefully and with empathy.
4) Paint a picture with your words. Mental pictures encompass both logic and emotion. Pictures–even word pictures–are more memorable. For example, a word picture about negotiation might be “Your proposal is like putting the camel’s nose under the tent. Once the nose is in, the whole camel is sure to follow.”
5) Ask questions. Questions allow you to test for understanding and the answers give you more information and insight. Repeat this two-way cycle until both of you are satisfied that you have reached mutual understanding.
Being able to communicate effectively is a huge need in the world today: from personal to international relationships. Although, our focus has been on workplace communication, this five-step path is effective at all levels.
Effective communication is one of the truly critical human relations skills that is worth taking the time to master. When you listen and communicate effectively, you gain a reputation for courtesy and concern – traits that enhance your leadership and increase your negotiation success.
Russell C. Sanders