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  • Writer's pictureMichele Evanson

Are you an Effective Communicator?

The ability to effectively communicate with others is one of the most powerful tools for personal and/or professional success. Effective Communication is the ability to transmit a message to a receiver, where the message has the same understanding to the receiver as the sender. This message can be verbal or non-verbal. Effective communication is the willingness to listen more than talk.

Become an Effective Listener

  • Be attentive and relaxed

  • Keep an open mind to the speaker’s message - try to feel what the speaker is feeling

  • Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying

  • Do not interrupt and do not impose your "solutions"

  • Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions - ask questions only to ensure understanding

  • Pay attention to nonverbal cues - tone of voice, inflection, facial expressions, gestures and posture

  • Be aware of potential barriers that impact your ability to listen effectively

Barriers to Listening

Sometimes people have a barrier that impedes their listening skills. Awareness of a barrier is the first step in being able to overcome it.

Barriers to listening include:

  • past experiences that influence our reaction to the speaker or the message

  • worry, fear, anger, and grief

  • individual bias and prejudice

  • preoccupation, boredom and shrinking attention span

Can you identify one or more barriers that may impact your ability to listen?

Past Experiences Shape your Communication Style

Communication doesn’t just happen. Your style is based on your experiences that over time have developed into a pattern of attitudes and actions. It is a continuous cycle. Your experiences influence your thoughts. Your thoughts, over time, become your attitudes. These attitudes become the blueprint for new experiences, which develop into patterns of behavior.

  • An awareness of your personal style is critical to begin to transform negative attitudes and behaviors into positive ones.

Do you have any negative predisposed thoughts that might influence your behavior when communicating?

Emotional obstacles to effective communication include:

Vulnerability - people may not express their true feelings because they do not want to expose themselves to others.

Protective - people may not want to express their true thoughts because they don’t want to hurt or upset the other person.

Expectations - social or professional rules may inhibit expression of some feelings

Fear - people seek approval and acceptance so they are often reluctant to say what they really mean for fear of rejection.

Can you identify with any of these obstacles preventing you from communicating effectively? Breakdowns happen when you and I think we are talking to each other but we are really talking past each other. We are so engrossed in what we have to say that we don’t realize we are carrying on our own monologues, not dialogues.

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