Communication sets us apart from the other animals on this planet. Oh, other animals communicate all right, but not the way we do—most of the time.
Communication can become physical—a tender touch or a bonk on the head. Bullets are a form of communication, albeit somewhat primitive. A stare can be communication, whether it carries admiration, rage or lust. The objective of communication is one of getting an idea across the distance that separates two or more people. Effective communication is all about ensuring the idea is duplicated at the receiving end and not misunderstood.
- Smile. In most instances, you want your communication to be well received. Whether you are on the phone, face-to-face or speaking to a large audience, a smile helps you to form friendly words. Even if you are delivering an unhappy message, consider delivering it with a love of your audience in your heart. More than likely, the person receiving your words will know if you are being genuine or not, so internalize the feeling. Even if you start with rage, throw mental water on it and find the inner smile. Your audience will likely be far more receptive. Communication is improved when there is affinity between both sides—sending and receiving.
- Know your audience. How you will do this will vary depending on the circumstances. In a customer service call center, you don't have the luxury of warming up the conversation with several minutes of chit chat. But listen to the tone of the person's voice. Is it tight and unfriendly? Or is it friendly, but hurried? If the person is in front of you, look at their body language. How you speak will determine how you are received. For the friendly but hurried individual, keep the friendly chit chat to the barest minimum. They may be late for an appointment and you don't want to add to their frustration. Communication is improved when both sides are more real to each other.
- Enunciate. This can be overdone to the point where your words seem mechanical, but too little attention paid to your pronunciation and the other person may have a hard time understanding your words. If you can, record a conversation with a friend and listen to your own words. Adjust your pronunciation for a natural clarity. Find the right balance.
- Online training courses. An effective communication course is an essential part of corporate training. An e-learning class is not only convenient—something you can do on your own schedule—it can frequently prove to be far more rewarding because it is self-paced. You can pause the instruction to do a quick search online for more information on a key topic. You can't easily do that in a traditional classroom setting.