Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Effective Communications Month (June) 2012

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By Terry Orr

What is effective communications?

Communication is the process of sharing information, thoughts and feelings between people through speaking, writing or body language. Effective communication extends the concept to require that transmitted content is received and understood by someone in the way it was intended. The goals of effective communication include creating a common perception, changing behaviors and acquiring information.

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Tip 1: You aren't a computer! (Stop Multitasking)
  • When you are having a conversation, don't do something else at the same time.
  • Take care to minimize distracters (TV, computer, cell phone, etc.) in the environment.
  • If you find your attention drifting, consciously bring it back to the conversation.
  • Make a mental note of key points that you hear during the conversation.
  • Listen, don't just 'wait to talk'.

Tip 2: Set the stage (Tell your audience what's coming)
  • What's the subject you wish to discuss?
  • What's the timeframe for the conversation (schedule and length)?
  • What's required of the listener?
  • If it's a negative message, prepare the listener ("This is difficult for me to say, and may be difficult for you to hear...")

Tip 3: Think before you speak - and while you are speaking (Be more conscious to be more effective)
  • What's the message you are hoping to get across?
  • Determine associated information that's needed to support your message.
  • Consider anticipated response of the listener, including possible concerns or objections.
  • Word choice, tone and body language shape your message.
  • Being more conscious helps you to be a better listener, too.

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Tip 4: I can see clearly now ... (Clarification is critical for effective communication)
As a speaker:

  • 'Check in' with your listener to make sure that your message is being conveyed as intended.
  • Don't make assumptions of your listener's knowledge of or interest in the subject.
  • Allow for and respond to questions.
  • Use analogies or common examples to help facilitate understanding.

As a listener:
  • Use 'active listening' ("What I hear you saying is ...)
  • Ask clarifying questions ("Do you mean...")
  • Reflect observed body language and tone to confirm impressions.

Tip 5: Take the high road (Break the cycle of negative interaction patterns)
  • Responding to an attack with an attack contributes to a downward spiral of negative interactions.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths or count to ten before responding.
  • Look for common ground to get back on track.
  • Watch for emotional 'flooding' and take a time-out if needed.
  • If what you are doing isn't working, do something different.
Communication is the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior.

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