Aug 05, 2014 | 3
Minute Read

5 ways to make communication more effective

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Refine Your Approach to Others or be Put at Serious Disadvantage

Editor's note: "Making communication more effective" is a theme we'll be diving into throughout this month, and we would love to hear from you about why effective communication is so important for organizations to become and remain successful.

Today, we communicate in more diverse ways than ever before, ultimately impacting the way we develop relationships.

Whether conducted through email, in-person working relationships or on one of the myriad social networking channels available for business and personal use, relationships require understanding.

The stakes are high, as communicating effectively in work and in life is a priority. Those unable to refine their approach to others can be put at a serious disadvantage.

And though everyone perfects their own way of delivering messages, certain building blocks for effective communication prove fruitful for most people, including the following tips for making communication more effective.

Understand the Need

You can't share a message or piece of information effectively until it is clearly defined. What are you trying to convey? Who is your audience?

Answering questions like these brings your objectives into focus so you can select the best way to accomplish your mission.

By engaging dozens of times daily with strangers, loved ones and co-workers, we make quick decisions, catering our communication for the greatest impact.

At the same time, it's important to recognize the potential impact of miscommunication. Being misunderstood about your favorite ice cream, for example, doesn't bear the same consequences as potentially hazardous communication breakdowns in the workplace.

By putting ourselves in others' shoes and looking closely at the way we communicate, it becomes possible to tailor our communications — whether through email or other means — to their direct recipients, substantially reducing the possibility of muddled understanding.

Learn to Listen

Somehow, when we think of communication, it's almost instinctive to focus on the way we share our thoughts with others.

But in reality, that's only half of the equation.

Effective communication leans heavily on listening skills, which reinforces two-way understanding between two or more people.

To become a more effective communicator, challenge yourself to place others' needs ahead of yours during conversation and get in the habit of reading emails more than once to ensure understanding.

Manage Passive Communication

A relatively new phenomenon has emerged resulting from social media and other forms of communication that leave an electronic footprint.

As a result of their lasting nature, social media posts communicate your thoughts, even when you aren't actively participating in conversation.

To send the right visual cues, it's important to monitor and manage your passive online presence or risk the possibility of others taking away the wrong message.

Consider Non-Verbal Image

Beyond the uttered words we speak, several things impact in-person communication. Everything from style preferences to vocal inflection influence understanding, so taking a look at non-verbal cues helps refine your ability to reach people.

For example, the speed of your cadence and the volume of your speaking voice, as well as the level of eye-contact and the number of hand gestures used to underscore the points you make are important concerns when speaking publicly

Know Your Audience

Consistency is important, but knowing your audience allows you to tweak your message for better understanding.

In business and at home, most successful relationships emerge between couples and associates capable of communicating effectively. Indeed, our ability to communicate efficiently relies on mutual understanding.

Communication takes many forms these days, including electronic messages and social media posts.

And although these new options keep people connected on a continuous basis, interpersonal communication still dominates most relationships. To enhance your ability to communicate more effectively, listen to others and foster understanding between you and your audience.

As you strive to improve communicate tactics, simply accounting for your audience and refining your message to its intended audience will better help you get your message across.

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Sarah Brooks