I’ve been teaching people how to communicate effectively for years, and I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who struggle to communicate well with others.
This article will explain the 7 steps you can take to communicate more effectively, and help you become a better communicator.
STEP 1: Ask Questions
The first step in communicating effectively is asking questions. This is the most important step, but it’s also the most difficult one. It takes courage to ask questions and it’s even harder to ask the right questions.
STEP 2: Learn how to listen
To be a good listener, you have to practice it. Listening is a skill, and there are many ways you can practice it.
Listen actively. This means that you’re paying attention to what your interlocutor is saying, as well as what they’re not saying. You don’t need to do anything, just pay attention.
Listen receptively. This means that you’re not judging or thinking about what you’re going to say next.
Listen for understanding. This means that you’re listening for what the other person means, rather than for what you want them to say.
Listen for agreement. This means that you’re listening to see if what the other person says matches with your own opinions.
STEP 3: Ask for feedback
After you’ve listened, ask for feedback. You don’t have to wait until you ask a question. Sometimes, it’s better to ask for feedback first, because it’s easier to give feedback after you know what you want to hear.
STEP 4: Repeat what you hear
The next step in communicating effectively is repeating what you heard. This may sound obvious, but many people forget it.
When you hear something new, repeat it back to the person. This helps them to confirm that they heard correctly, and to let them know that you’re paying attention.
STEP 5: Ask for clarification
Ask for clarification when you don’t understand something. This is usually more difficult than asking questions, because you have to be careful not to sound like a nag.
You can start by asking “I don’t understand. Could you explain it again?”. If you do this before you ask a question, it’s much easier to ask for clarification.
If the person is reluctant to explain, you can repeat the question “Could you explain it again?” a couple of times.
You can also ask for clarification if you think they might not have heard you correctly.
STEP 6: Ask for permission
After you’ve asked for clarification, you should ask for permission. This is a common mistake people make. They ask for clarification, and then they ask for permission, which makes the other person feel like they’re being forced into giving them permission.
If you’re unsure how to ask for permission, just ask “May I ask you something?”. You can also say “It’s important to me that I get this right”.
STEP 7: Offer suggestions
The final step in communicating effectively is offering suggestions. This isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. If you don’t offer suggestions, you risk the other person taking over. If you don’t listen to them, you risk them taking over.
If you want to offer a suggestion, it’s best to make it clear that you’re doing so.
You can start by saying “It’s important to me that I get this right, and I have a few ideas. May I share them with you?”
You can also ask permission before you make your suggestion.
Thanks for reading!