7 Effective Communication Techniques That Will Make You Excellent

7 Effective Communication Techniques That Will Make You Excellent

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When you think about it, all the success that you enjoy in life comes from other people. Your paycheck comes from your employer, your sales come from your customers, and your social security check comes from taxpayers. Humans are social creatures, which means that we best survive and thrive when we live and work collaboratively.

Knowing these fundamental truths of humanity, you can begin to recognize why effective communication is so important. The difference between a person who knows effective communication techniques and a person who doesn?t is night and day.

In fact, a research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center, has all concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills). This means that no matter what field you are in, your ability to rise up higher and faster in your career largely depends on how effectively you interact with other people.

For this reason, I?m going to teach you 7 effective communication techniques that will make you an excellent communicator. You can implement these techniques immediately and at no cost, and you?ll soon begin to reap the benefits in your career and personal life. Let?s begin!

Maintain Good Body Language

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The first effective communication technique is all about maintaining good body language when engaged in conversation. According to a study on decoding inconsistent communication (Mehrabian, A. & Wiener, M., 1967) researchers have found that body language accounts for approximately 55% of how other people interpret your emotional state.

It?s essential to use your body language to communicate positive, constructive, and collaborative intent to other people. For the most part, no one wants to work or collaborate with negative or critical people. Think about the people you dislike. They?re usually unfriendly, high critical, or overly aggressive and insensitive to others. Even if your communicative words are friendly and cordial, your body language still accounts for over half of what the other person perceives.

To maintain good body language, the first step is developing good eye contact. Good eye contact means that you look others in the eyes when they are talking to you or when you are talking to them. Remember not to stare. Take breaks to look away and give the other person psychological breathing room.

Next, remember to express neutral and positive emotions with your arms, hands, and face. When someone is discussing a problem or issue with you, express curiosity in your body language. For example, I like to show this by furrowing my brow curiously and resting my hand under my chin.

Try to avoid expressing negative emotions like shock, panic, or anger. Smile when you are expressing positive or constructive communication. Don?t be afraid to use humor and laugh to build a good rapport with others.

Finally, make sure your body is fully engaged in the conversation. Use hand gestures to better explain your points, and avoid crossing your arms. Make sure your body is parallel to the person you are talking with. This means that you should try to face them directly when speaking or listening. Keep your body posture upright and relaxed.

When agreements are reached or congratulations are in order, always shake the other person?s hand. In the case of smaller casual accomplishments and acknowledgments, high-fives and fist bumps work great for building strong connections. Respectful, professional, and consensual physical contact releases oxytocin, the trust-building neurotransmitter.

If you follow these simple strategies for improving your body language, you?ll be amazed at how much people will enjoy collaborating with you!

Seek First to Understand

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The next effective communication technique is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. This communication model comes from Stephen Covey, the late best-selling author, and multi-millionaire.

It?s natural to think about your own needs before the needs of others. That?s just how human beings are wired biologically. Many of us only listen with the intent of replying, or with the intent of thinking about how what the other person is saying relates to ourselves and our lives. However, using your cognitive ability to override that self-centered instinct can be extremely powerful.

When engaged in conversation, take a mental step back and ask yourself, ?what is this person really trying to tell me?? Always ask yourself this critical question before coming up with a response.

Truly understanding what a person is trying to communicate to you and why can help you understand their needs. When you understand their needs, you can respond in a way that builds trust and reciprocity with them.

People will know that you really care about what they have to say and that you understand them on a deeper level than most others. They?ll become more agreeable to you and more likely to work with you in a collaborative way.

When you seek first to understand, then to be understood, you open doors and step into the hearts and minds of others. This technique will ultimately help you get what you want faster and with less conflict, while also making the other person feel great!

Ask Open-ended Questions

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Another technique for effective communication is the practice of asking open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be easily answered with a simple yes or no. The reason open-ended questions are important is that people often hold back or filter their true thoughts and opinions.

To develop trust with others, you have to get inside their heads and guide them to revealing their true desires and motives to you. When you ask an open-ended question while assuring the other person that they won?t be judged, you can get them to reveal more information to you.

For example, it?s often the case that a co-worker will vent their frustrations with a problem. In order to help them, you would need to ask an open-ended question such as, ?what needs to change to make this situation better?? This will guide them away from the problem and towards a solution.

You can ask more open-ended questions to follow up on their first answer, such as, ?what do you mean by that, specifically?? This will help both of you dig deeper and find the root causes of any problem or line of thinking.

When you ask open-ended questions, you are better able to provide value to others and work with them more effectively. In turn, they will be better able to help you back, making you both more effective and building trust.

Be Open and Honest

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To be honest with you, the next technique for effective communication is not really a technique, it?s just common sense. Have you ever heard of the saying, ?honesty is the best policy?? I believe that this saying is absolutely true.

People don?t trust others who appear dishonest or shady. Human beings have plenty of cognitive biases and gaps in individual perception, but if there is one thing we have evolved to be good at, it?s recognizing deception.

From an evolutionary standpoint, the ability to recognize when someone is full of you-know-what is critical for survival. To give you a simplified example, if you were an overly trusting cave-person in paleolithic times, other cave-people could easily back-stab you and take your limited resources.

Because of our harsh ancient history, we?ve evolved to possess a keen ability for recognizing when someone is being dishonest or incongruent with us. This instinct still helps us avoid scammers, thieves, and backstabbers today.

The point of all this is, don?t underestimate people?s ability to sniff out dishonesty or deception. You should always be open and honest with others when communicating, for best long-term results. Never lie to others or hide information that they should probably know, within reason.

In the past, I?ve had managers above me straight-up lie to me and send private emails to certain co-workers to hide critical information from me. As you can probably guess, all trust on my part was instantly lost with these managers when I found out.

Trust is extremely important for effective teamwork, and it?s hard to build back once it?s destroyed. Keep this in mind whenever you think about lying to or deceiving others. People will like, respect, and trust you more when you are honest with them, even if you are admitting a mistake or failure.

Use good judgment with this advice. Some things fall into the category of honest but offensive. You can be honest without offending the other person if you choose your words carefully.

Frame Your Views

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Often when working or communicating with others, you?ll find that they hold different views than you on many subjects. After you?ve mastered seeking to understand and asking open-ended questions, you should have a strong grasp on the views of others. This will allow you to frame your own views in a way that is agreeable to others.

What I don?t mean to say is that you should change your own views to match others. That would be disingenuous to yourself and to others, and you would suffer from persona fatigue. Persona fatigue occurs when our actions are not congruent with our self-identity. It can lead to severe burnout and the destruction of trust.

Instead of changing your own views and opinions, frame them in a way that is inoffensive to the other person. For example, let?s say your boss asks you what you think about the latest strategic plan for the team?s project. Let?s say that you think the plan is poor and has many potential negative consequences that your boss didn?t consider.

After asking some open-ended questions, you discover that your boss has a different view. It turns out that your boss is excited about the plan and believes that it will be very effective when implemented.

Instead of telling your boss, ?I think this plan is terrible and it has too many blind-spots to work effectively?, you want to frame your opinion in a way that is constructive to the conversation. If you harshly criticize the plan, your boss will probably be offended, become defensive, and become unable to take any constructive feedback.

To reframe your views effectively, you could tell your boss, ?I can see what you were thinking when you made this plan, and from what you told me, I can see how it could work for us in the future. However, I have some concerns about the plan based on my experiences that I would like to share with you. Is that okay with you??

By framing your views to match the views of your boss, your boss sees you as positive and collaborative rather than overly critical. This way, your boss will likely agree to accept your feedback and take it more seriously than if you had led with a harsh or critical statement.

Framing your views is a powerful technique for engaging in open and honest communication without offending others.

Meet Them Where They Stand

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The final effective communication technique is all about meeting people where they stand. Sometimes when we are communicating, we alienate others by using complex or unfamiliar language. People speak and understand differently based on their domain knowledge, culture, background, and education level.

For example, let?s say that you?re a software engineer who wants to explain how artificial intelligence works to a layperson. You probably don?t want to start rambling on using detailed jargon about neural networks and genetic programming. Instead, you?d probably want to use a simple analogy and explain how it works from a broader perspective.

Meeting people where they stand means adjusting your communication so that people can easily digest what you are saying. Meet them where they stand so that you can stand together!

You?re probably wondering, why is this important? It?s important because, throughout your career, you?ll be working with people who have different areas of domain expertise.

You may be an engineer who has to work with a project manager or an administrative assistant that has to work with an executive (or vice-versa). There may be times where you have to interface with a client or customer and explain your product or service to them in simple terms that they can understand to get them on board.

You don?t want to create miscommunication and mistakes just because you weren?t willing to meet people where they stand. Clarity and mutual understanding is key to effective teamwork and communication. As the saying goes, ?if you confuse, you lose?.

Conclusion

I hope this guide taught you some effective communication techniques that you didn?t know before. If you apply these effective communication techniques to your daily life, you?ll notice a change in how people treat you.

You?ll find it easier to get people on your side and you?ll have more favors done for you. People will like and trust you more and you?ll be happier with your life and career.

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