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How to Communicate Effectively

Communication is a difficult thing to master. Some may think it’s easy because they think that communication is just talking. However, there is a difference between simply talking and communication. Talking can be mindless, but when you are communicating with someone you are engaged, listening and trying to fully understand what is being said on both ends. In order to communicate effectively, you have to be able to listen as well. With strong communication skills and the ability to communicate effectively, you can go very far in your career as well as in your personal life.

Even though experts say that 93 percent of communication is non-verbal, our verbal communication is our most direct way to express what is going on in our minds. If only 7 percent of what we say verbally counts for our communication with others, than we had better make what we say count! The workplace can be a sticky communications area since there are so many different people in one place trying to work together. However, with a little effort, and a little patience, you can train yourself to be a great communicator. Take a look at some of these tips below you can follow to communicate effectively.

1. Listen
For a while, this one was a little difficult for me. I actually think that it is difficult for most people because more times than not you aren’t truly listening but are rather thinking about what you want to say and what point you want to get across. If you want to communicate effectively with your co-workers, managers and friends then you have to really listen to what they are saying, not just hear it. When someone is talking, don’t interrupt them. This is a big sign that you are either not listening or not interested in what they have to say. When they are done, reflect on what they said. In fact, if you’re unsure of what they were trying to say, ask questions. When you ask questions, you show that you were listening and are trying to understand.

2. Think Before You Speak
This phrase has to be one of the most repeated and used phrases ever, but it makes sense because the message is true. Often times, we say things that make us want to shove our foot in our mouth. We say to ourselves, “Ah, I wish I hadn’t said that. I should have thought before I spoke candidly.” Alas, you can’t take what you said back so make sure to always think before you speak. Of course, planning out every word in your head before you say them can get tiring and stressful, but that’s not really necessary. What you do need to have though is a general idea of what you want to say before you say it.

3. Eye Contact
It’s difficult for someone to think you are listening to them when you are staring at their feet, at the wall behind them or playing with your phone. If you want to truly communicate with someone, and want someone to communicate with you, then you have to give them your full attention. That means, looking at them when they speak and making good eye contact with them as you speak as well.

4. Empathy
When you try to understand how someone else feels and take note that they are trying to do this through their communication, then you will likely get along with more people in your office. Taking a moment to understand how what you say and what you do can make others feel a certain way can really assist you in your communications with that person. More times than not, people want to know that they are being heard and understood. When you are empathetic, you can communicate better with others and build better relationships with the people you work with.

5. Voice, Speed, Tone, Etc.
The way you actually use your voice can make a big difference in the way you communicate with others. The first tip I can give is to catch yourself when you are talking fast and make a genuine effort to slow down. If you are speeding through your words and sentences, then chances are people are going to have no idea what you are saying. I am a fast-talking offender and I have to make a conscious effort to avoid speeding through my words.

You should make an additional effort to fully enunciate your words. There’s nothing worse than slurring your words together or trailing off at the end of a sentence. This is one of my pet peeves, so I make an effort to make sure I am enunciating my words as I speak them. When you’re speaking you should also be mindful of your volume. Take note of the environment around you and make sure you are using the appropriate volume.

IMAGE: HackCollege

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter