Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.
September 28, 2021 · 7 min read
Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success. - Paul J. Meyer
Have you ever experienced a situation when you couldn’t understand what the other person has just tried to explain?
Have you ever fallen into situation when the other person couldn’t understand you or it took you too much time to explain a simple concept?
Well, I certainly have experienced both situations. Reasons for that can be almost endless, but the most important thing is to understand where these problems come from and how to swap them with efficient methods of communication.
In this article we’ll dig deeper into the most common activity that we face – communication.
If you can master efficient communication skills, your paths of success in life can be endless.
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said. - Peter Drucker
Efficient communication is ability to express a thought or an idea with a short and concise message. In other words, you have to deliver your thought in simple, comprehensible manner so that the other person or an audience can understand without additional external help, for example, Google.
If a person explains a concept in a complex way just to show off, that would be considered as inefficient communication. Such communication creates only confusion and also results in wasting others’ people time. They will either give up on the thought that you’ve explained, or they’ll have to dig into your concept deeper themselves and waste their time.
Before giving your efforts in practicing efficient communication, first you need to understand the tools of communication. Basically, it’s the foundation for the communication. Here are 5 methods of communication:
1. Visual communication. It incorporates visual information as well as verbal or (and) written communication (usually). Visuals help people to understand an idea better due to conveying the message better in imagery way. People are visual society and always prefer visuals over complex texts.
2. Active listening. This is by far the best way to engage with the other person due to your efforts in trying to understand the message by asking questions or giving feedback. Listening is very important, but active listening is crucial for proper and efficient communication.
3. Verbal communication. This is the most common way of communication. It can happen through speech platforms on the Internet, such Zoom, MS teams, Skype etc., or it can be done via telephone or face-to-face. Most certainly, the most effective form of verbal communication is when you can see other person’s body language and expressions.
4. Non-verbal communication. This is a supplementary form of communication to convey your message better or to understand how other person feels when he explains something. For example, if someone is agreeing with you verbally, he might at the same time be scratching his head, shrugging, nervously walking, and do other forms of non-verbal communication which actually indicate the opposite (disagreement).
5. Written communication. Perhaps the simplest way and in some cases the most effective form of communication. Written communication can reach a lot of audience without you needing to be present in front of other people’s eyes. However, written form of communication needs conciseness, preciseness, errors-free sentences and ensuring that the message conveys a value.
Efficient communication is detrimental due to its nature to communicate with others in the most effective way in conveying a message. That is, the least number of words, avoiding unnecessary chit-chats, and requiring the least amount of time.
Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud. - Hermann Hesse
Because we live in a modern society, we thrive to improve in every aspect. Communication is no exception. It was found that it costs roughly $420,000 annually per 100 employees to cover the costs of inefficient and poor communication. From this study it’s clear that the communication is costly and is necessary to develop for everyone.
Before saying your expression out loud, you have to make sure you understand your thought yourself first. The reason for that is simple – if someone asks you a simple and fundamental question regarding your opinion and you won’t be able to answer, your opinions might lose value for others. So, make sure your opinion is relevant and you can explain it for communication efficiency.
Next, be straightforward with your opinion. In other words, explain your idea very accurately without making unnecessary small talks (if that’s an appropriate situation). In this way, the listener will not get confused and he will need to process less information. Therefore, everyone saves time and communication becomes more efficient.
Think of ways how to give a lot of information in the least number of words. Wordy expressions dilute your main idea. So, here are some tips to be more concise:
Try to find something valuable to add to the speaker’s speech. Effective communication occurs only when two or more people participate in a discussion. Therefore, a dialogue is a must instead of a monologue (with a few exceptions, for example, presentations).
In a perfect dialogue, two people must exchange ideas, therefore, you have to give feedback. A lot of people are afraid to give negative feedback, but actually it’s an essential part of a healthy discussion. If another person can’t accept criticism, it’s a problem of ego.
People can only progress if their work is criticized. Progressing alone without no feedback requires much more time and some points cannot be addressed by a sole person. That’s because 10 people’s opinion outweigh one’s person opinion. The more people engage in the discussion, the more diversity of opinions there is to analyze. As a result, discussions become fruitful and insightful.
The most important problem in effective communication is lack of listening. This passive activity separates good communicators and bad communicators.
Most people listen to reply instead of actual listening and understanding the message. People sometimes miss the main keywords and the most important elements. Or, they catch the most important keywords but miss little details that have a very significant impact to the idea.
Listening is the most underrated efficient communication skill there is. It may sound oversimplistic and that there’s not a lot of impact from it, but that’s a wrong assumption.
The problem is that people tend to have a lot of thoughts in their head while listening. They want to speak and be heard. However, that’s an egoistic way of thinking.
Proper listening can prevent miscommunication. Here are some tips to become a better listener:
Whenever you are speaking, try to analyze listener’s body language. It can tell whether a person is bored, afraid, frightened, excited, faking the listening, etc.
Based on that person’s reaction, try to pivot your speech for more engagement. Not only that person will feel more involved, but you’ll also might get valuable feedback on your speech.
For example, if the atmosphere is very dull, change your speaking tone. If the listener seems frightened, try to tell a practical (perhaps even personal, if possible) story that he or she could relate to yours. If you’re trying to teach another person something new and he looks afraid, encourage him.
Being sympathetic can create a better environment for relationships and create a stronger bond between people. Analyzing body language is a powerful tool to pivot the situation to your and listener’s advantage.
It’s undeniable that, people who are humorous are more likable than those who tend to be serious all the time. People feel more connected and it creates a bond of more trust and likability. Not only that, but it also can reduce the tension and stress in the environment. Therefore, it’s self-explanatory that you should insert some humor from time to time.
Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
For example, if you notice that the tension today is high when communicating, consider sharing your funny story, telling a joke, or say something funny related to past events. In some cases, you can even make a little fun of yourself. That would guarantee some tension relief and help to strengthen relationships.
Of course, this can be a little hard to apply when sending messages. Therefore, use common sense when it would be the right time to use humor.
Talking with someone across the whole room is not the same as talking side by side. Listening to a public speaker in the back of a room versus in front of the room are two different things.
Similarly, talking to someone within a close distance automatically makes people pay more attention and be more engaged. Attention and engagement are single handedly one of the most vital elements in efficient communication.
Considering that the topic is the same, would you be more engaged if:
a) You were watching a youtube video;
b) Someone explained you concepts through a video conference;
c) Someone explained you concepts in front of you.
The obvious answer is c). That’s because you don’t want to insult another person by not paying enough attention and because of the engagement level which is created automatically when there is almost no physical distance.
BONUS TIP: Use appropriate communication tools
For more formal communication, you should use e-mails, MS Teams, corporate social media or anything else that is appropriate at the present.
I find it very interesting that there are things such as team bonding tools. For example, let’s say 100 employees have an installed app called “Donut”. This app randomly pairs two people in the company and they have informal chat to get to know each other.
It’s a great idea, but some companies are heavily focused on work and would not allow to spend time for such things. Also, people who are introverts might not like this idea. Nevertheless, it’s a great tool to build team culture within a company.
Also, take a look at this video. It shows a lot of great insights about communication in general.
Body language is the ultimate interpretation in behavioral psychology. It can exponentially increase your confidence levels if used appropriately. As a consequential action, confidence will let you to express your thoughts clearly without stuttering or sounding like you have no faiths in your words.
Appropriate body language can also let other people know that you are more approachable. In this way, you can boost effective communication levels and overcome communication barriers between you and the other person.
Words and pictures can work together to communicate more powerfully than either alone. - William Albert Allard
Some tips for appropriate body language:
Some people can be on a whole different level of knowledge even if they have the same background. For example, an electrical engineer that has just graduated and an electrical engineer who has 10 years of practical experience will have different understanding about the practical world, terms and jargon.
This is often neglected and people that have no background or appropriate education in a particular subject will often be left confused and stressed.
Therefore, it’s important to distinguish the differences in the knowledge first. Then, you can start finding common ground and use simpler terms in order to communicate effectively.
Complex concepts can be hard to understand just from a dry theory. People that have practical skills in a particular subject will almost always be superior to those who know the theory only.
Similarly, when communicating, you have to provide examples for a better understanding which translates to communication efficiency. Sometimes that’s all it takes to reach this “A-ha!” moment and finding a common ground.
Communication has to be concise and precise, but at the same time it has also to make sense. The way you provide sense is by giving practical examples.
Constructive criticism will help you to reduce errors, mistakes and increase efficiency in your field. It enables us to understand concepts quicker and better.
The most important element is to keep an open mind and be ready to accept changes. The fact is that nobody is perfect and life is a continuous journey of learning. Only an overly narcissistic person can ignore criticism and continue doing the same mistakes over and over again.
I like people who refuse to speak until they are ready to speak. - Lillian Hellman
Without constructive criticism, efficient communication can’t exist. Trying to hide the criticism from the other person stalls time and the inevitable thing will happen – the same mistake will happen again. The same goes for ignoring the criticism.
Therefore, constructive criticism plays a role of self-improvement and effective communication. Comprehending importance of constructive feedback is a vital role in building strong, trustful relationships.
Communicating with people isn’t easy and it requires practice. Unfortunately, that’s something you simply can’t learn just by reading.
However, the good news is that just by reading these tips you will be more aware of what to do and what not to do. Communication is an interactive activity and you should always keep in mind that the other person also has a lot to do with efficient communication.
Therefore, keep in mind these tips and try to practice it with your family members, friends, and colleagues. Remember that it’s not a marathon and enjoy your journey in improving yourself!