Effective Communication Skills
In the previous article, I wrote about what are general communication skills, and why is it so great to communicate well. However, two questions remain: what is effective communication? How can you develop it?
What Is Effective Communication?
The broad purpose of communication skills, as discussed before , is to materialize a thought into an email, poetry, a song, and so on. However, when it comes to making money – and throughout this article – we’ll refer to “effective communication” as “something that allows you to explain your thoughts as simple and as accurately as possible. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Truth be told, communicating effectively isn’t simple if you aren’t very social. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to be very social or to have great interpersonal skills: although these two things help, simply communicating a message is much easier than to be social or to be very empathetic – while these two things do help, simply communicating a message effectively is much easier.
Four Ways to Communicate Effectively
1. Avoid ambiguity.
This may sound trivial, but the trivial things are the ones most taken for granted – and end up being not-so-trivial, after all. Consider the following (colloquial) speech, for instance:
Roger: After I left work, I went to Susan’s house. I saw her duck.
At first, it seems there’s no second interpretation, right? Wrong! The sentence has actually two possible interpretations:
- After Roger went to Susan’s house, he saw Susan’s pet duck (the most likely interpretation).
After Roger went to Susan’s house, he saw Susan ducking for some reason (maybe she was frightened?)
Although ambiguity is even desired on fields such as advertising or literary writing, when it comes to writing daily messages, not considering ambiguity can be dangerous. The solution: rewrite the sentence to convey the meaning you want clearer.
a. Roger: After I left work, I went to Susan’s house. I saw her pet duck.
Notice the order is important. If you write, instead, “I saw her pet duck”, this still leads to the same problems: did Roger see her pet duck or did see her pet –a dog, a cat, and so on – duck?
b. Roger: After I left work, I went to Susan’s house. I saw her ducking, frightened.
Here, when you replace the noun with a verb (“ducking”), you eliminate any possibilities of anyone thinking she had a pet duck.
2. Punctuate sentences well.
This is, without a doubt, one of the major sins today – and the Internet doesn’t encourage good punctuation, as your messages have to be there, “here, now.” A great problem that derives from this are run-on sentences (two sentences that, because of the lack of punctuation, are written as if they were one).
Talking about the internet, let’s see a real-life example:
Youtube user: How is that hatin? She’s from a middle class family, her father was destiny’s child’s manager so of course she got 1st preference and the only shocker she can come with now is to be buck naked coz we’ve seen everythin else.
If you read the sentence carefully, you’ll eventually get the meaning of it. But how many times do you have to read it? Two times? Three times? Let’s see how the same comment reads with proper punctuation (and some wording here and there):
Youtube user: How is that hatin‘? She’s from a middle class family, and her father was destiny’s child’s manager. So, of course she got “first preference!” The only “shocker“ she can come with now is to be bu[tt]-naked – coz’ we’ve seen everythin‘ else.
Notice the writing style barely changed: the writing is still informal, and some sentences are still less than ideal. However, because the sentence is much better punctuated, it looks much easier to read.
3. When speaking, be clear and specific.
Remember the dialog from the previous article? If John had told Jane exactly what he wanted, he would have saved an hour – and spared himself from many headaches. Therefore, when you talk to someone, don’t be John. Be as clear as you can.
4. When speaking to a co-worker, be as polite as you can.
Again, remember our previous article: nice words make people more willingly to listen to you. There’s no need to be overly nice: all you need is to respect someone, and you’ll earn respect back.