Signs you're an effective communicator

Its common when hiring for new staff to put down effective communicator or high level communication skills under the list of attributes you're looking for, but what does that really mean? Can we really judge effective communication in others, if we aren't first effective communicators ourselves? Communication is after all a two-way street, of listening and feeling heard. And while we all know that doing all of the talking isn't great, neither is doing all of the listening. Ultimately the goal is both parties feeling understood, so how do you measure that?

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The cornerstone of truly effective communication is when both parties feel they're talking about the same thing. When they both walk away with the validation that they we're not only listened to but also understood.

Its easy to assume that you understand, but in reality most people listen not with the intent to understand but the intent to reply. Effective communication is not about what you think. Its about what the other person thinks, because that is the key to your desired outcome.

Use their exact words back to them

The most successful formula for achieving clear understanding between two parties is to ask them questions based on exactly what they're saying.

Its important that you're not giving this person back your interpretation or summary of their words, but instead finding out more about what it is they're actually saying.

For example:

When summarizing another's point, it might sound like this

Other person Ive got way too much work and there's no way I can get it all done.

You So what you're saying is, you're too busy?

When further understanding another's point, it might sound like this

Other person Ive got way too much work and there's no way I can get it all done.

You When do you think you could get it all done? or What do you mean by way too much or Why is it you feel like there's no way you can get it all done.

In the first example you're simply summarizing what you think they're saying. In the second example you're using questions to get more information and understand what it is they're really saying.

By asking that person a question starting with who, what, when, where, why or how, you're giving that person a chance to clarify and further explain their point.

The more questions you ask, the more you'll find out and the deeper understanding you'll gain from the conversation.

Why the way you've always done it, probably isn't serving you as well as you thought

Like anything you do regularly, you would have formed communication habits. These habits are based on conditioned responses built from years of practice.

These conditioned responses are affected by your life. From how you communicate with your family and friends to if you're a more passive or assertive type of person to what kind of mood you're in at the time.

When you're not aware of these conditioned responses it's easy to instinctively advise or tell others what to do or say, which won't necessarily lead to the optimal out come for the person you're speaking with.

Similarly, you should always consider that the person you're speaking with will also have their own conditioned responses and communication habits. Give every discussion it's best chance at being successful by always considering the tone and environment for your conversations. When in doubt, approach every interaction with three clear rules in mind: courtesy, manners and respect.

Ultimately this specific technique of asking questions in the right tone and environment, allows you to make sure communication habits or conditioned responses don't impact upon your ability to be an effective communicator.

So how do you know if you really understand others when you communicate?

The only way to know if you're an effective communicator and if you really understand others, is to ask. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

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Posted in Renovations Post Date 07/29/2020


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