Effective Communication

June is Effective Communication Month, a time to reflect on the essential skill of connecting with others. Effective communication may seem instinctive, but it’s common to experience misunderstandings, frustration, and conflict; all a direct result of miscommunication that can impact relationships in every aspect of life. By honing our communication skills, we can deepen connections, build trust and respect, and enhance teamwork and problem-solving abilities, ultimately improving our social and emotional health.

Being an effective communicator requires the ability to exchange information with clarity, empathy, and understanding. Effective communication involves sharing ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. When communication is effective, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied. To achieve this, it’s important to have the 5 C’s of Communication: clear, correct, complete, concise, and compassionate.

To enhance your communication skills, it’s essential to give your full attention to the speaker. Engaged listening is more than just hearing words; it demands your undivided focus, free from distractions such as checking your phone, thinking about other matters, or letting your mind wander. By staying present and fully immersing yourself in the conversation, you are able to pick up on subtle nuances and nonverbal cues that are crucial for understanding the speaker’s message. Effective communication is built on this foundation of active, engaged listening, as it demonstrates respect for the speaker and fosters a deeper connection.

Providing feedback is another key aspect of effective communication. If you feel a disconnect, reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. Phrases like, “What I’m hearing is…” or “Sounds like you are saying…” help convey your understanding. Avoid repeating the speaker’s words verbatim, as this can come off as insincere. Instead, express what the speaker’s words mean to you. Clarify points by asking questions such as, “What do you mean when you say…?” or “Is this what you mean?”

Enhance communication by using open body language—uncrossed arms, an open stance, or sitting on the edge of your seat. In face-to-face conversations, body language plays a crucial role. Researcher Albert Mehrabian found that communication is 55 percent non-verbal, 38 percent vocal (tone and inflection), and only 7 percent words. This means that up to 93 percent of communication involves non-verbal elements. Maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking to, as this conveys attentiveness and respect. 

Effective communication is a vital skill that enriches our personal and professional lives. By focusing on understanding others first and practicing active listening and open body language, we can become better communicators. This June, take the opportunity to refine your communication skills and build stronger, more meaningful connections with those around you.

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