Communication is part of everyday life. Though we all have the ability to communicate, it is communicating effectively that matters most. Whether you are giving a speech, teaching a class or having a conversation with a co-worker, communicating effectively can make the difference between being understood and being dismissed. Therefore, it is important to understand the principles of effective communication and how you can apply them in your everyday conversations.
When speaking to another person or a large crowd, show respect to your audience. Use wording and verbiage that correspond to the same educational level as your audience. For instance, you wouldn't use complex financial terms with a group of fifth graders to explain how a bank works as you would with a group of college students.
Whether communicating one-on-one or with a group, it is impolite to interrupt anyone while they are speaking to you. This includes cutting someone off when she is asking a question you already know the answer to. Allow the individual to finish making her point before responding. Otherwise, the communication becomes one-sided and ineffective.
Start your communication by making yourself friendly and approachable. This can include smiling and beginning communication with honest praise. When the situation warrants a serious conversation, such as reprimanding a student or employee, be professional about it and keep the tone non-confrontational and informative. Do not let emotions or outside thoughts affect how you communicate with the individual and keep the conversation geared toward the issue.
Communication does not just revolve around what you say but how you act while another is speaking to you. Show that you are interested in what the person is saying by giving him your full attention. Maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to and do not allow yourself to be distracted by people walking by or other activities in the room. Nod your head to let the speaker know you understand what he is saying.
Choose Your Time
Select the right time for your communication. Typically, cornering someone at the end of the day when she wants to go home or during a stressful part of the day will make the communication less effective or put pressure on both parties to curtail the discussion. Do not try to communicate to people who are preoccupied with other tasks or try to listen to someone while you are so occupied.
Have an Objective
There is an objective with every form of communication, even the most simple one. If your objective is to teach a co-worker how to use a new spreadsheet, then make sure you are prepared to teach him how to use it with notes or by showing him physically. Use clear and concise wording and ask for feedback. Do not allow yourself to get off task from your objective or distracted. Once you've delivered your message or instructions, either have your co-worker review what you've told him or have him demonstrate the task hands-on to show his understanding.