Ingredients of Effective Communication
It is only through communication that human beings are able to convey their thoughts, ideas and opinions to others. Every successful relation is based upon how strong and effectively people in that relation reach each other. The failure to properly communicate with others lead to misunderstandings, distances and friction which cause weakening of relations.
Through this article, we will try to discuss factors that can help us communicate effectively to people.
Being precisely clear in what you want to express is foremost essential step. Many times people say "Look there", "Can you bring me that?". These words "There" and "That" could mean any and many things to different people. It is therefore the best to use specific names or terms instead of these general words. Remember no one is able to read your mind so you have to use proper words to reflect.
2. Mode of communication:
Medium of communication can change the entire meaning of the same sentence. If you say anything to someone in person, it would mean different. If you say the same on phone, write it in email or sms, it would mean different. For example 'minute' (time) and 'minute' (quantity) spell the same. "It's a minute task" can mean both to people. The best communication is in person because the body language, emotions and voice augment the words while with other medium of communication, the supplementary factors are often missing which can increase the chances of misunderstandings. Therefore when in doubt, seek clarification and confirmation from other person rather than believing in your assumption.
3. Voice fluctuations:
A monotonous style with all the words said in a same tone will bring boredom to the listener and the other person may miss the point you want to emphasize. Bring variations in your speaking with special emphasis on the words you want to highlight. I once tried to read in a style that Per Gessle of Roxette has sang Crush on you, people were confused because I spoke all words in one flow. Variation and voice fluctuations are very important. Speak in a voice that is understandable by other people, if you speak too low, people may have to constantly ask you again and again or they may make a word in their mind to complete the sense of sentence spoken by you which they couldn't understand and didn't bother asking you again. Be interested in what you want to say. Make your voice reflect your interest. If you feel bored talking about something, then your listeners would feel more bored.
4. More 'WE", less "ME":
The more a conversation is about 'me, myself & I' the more easily listeners would lose interest. Try taking other people's opinion so they remain interested and active. For example if you want to take any opinion, instead of asking "What should I do?" try saying "What should we do about it?" or "What would you have done if you were in a similar situation like this?" Mind power published by Readers Digest stated that when people become sick, they start using "I" word more and when they are progressing towards health, they start using "You" word more.
5. Time it:
Human mind can focus on one thought with all concentration on it for five minutes averagely. After this time, mind starts to shift attention away to another thought. Time your communication. Take breaks to the listener mind can start the second cycle of attention and concentration span. If you talk for long without taking breaks, people would forget and not pay more attention to what you are saying.
6. Gender difference:
In "Men are from Mars women are from Venus" John Gray mentions that men do not like to listen to long conversations compared to females who like to have long conversations. He suggests that to tell a detailed story to a man, tell him the conclusion first and then move backwards towards the start. To make a female listen with all her ears on, start with the beginning and then proceed to conclusion.
7. Positivity and minimum use of word "no":
Every word carries an impact. Imagine reading a newspaper that presents the result of a match played between two teams. One heading is team A defeated team B, other is team A won the match. Which of the two headlines makes you feel 'less negative'? The more positive words you will use, the more people will like to listen to.
Likewise try not using the word "no" frequently and never begin your answer or conversation with "no" like "I don't agree". People at times become defensive and start taking things personally once they hear that they are proven wrong. Alternatively ask them "Ok what would be your opinion if we can do it this way?" and suggest your way if you don't agree to the speaker at first place.
8. Supportive body language:
If you speak something contradictory to what your body language is signaling, the other person will not understand you well and will remain confused and in doubts.
The more vocabulary you have, the more easier it would be for you to communicate yourself to others in direct, precise and concise words.
10. Understand the listener's frame of mind:
Evaluate first that does the listener really is in frame of mind to listen to you? Is this the appropriate time? You may be confused about making a certain decision and your child comes asking you for a gift would have lesser chances of getting his/her wish fulfilled instead of when your mood is good and the child asks you for a gift.
11. Let the other person speak fully as well:
Try not to interrupt or cut the other person till he/she hasn't finished describing their point of view at least once. A person asked a student standing outside the school gate "Do you have time?" and the student replied immediately "No" as he was going to sit in his school bus. The man wanted to ask "Do you have timepiece?"
12. Inappropriate questions:
Do not ask the questions that cannot be answered honestly. For example people would never give honest answer to "Isn't my cooking best"? . They can be more open if you ask them "Suggest me on how to improve my cooking?"
Written by Dr. Muhammad Wasif Haq, Islamabad, Pakistan.
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