What Is Effective Communication?

Many people want to know what effective communication is. The answer involves several elements. Communicating effectively means that your ideas and concepts are being heard and people are acting upon them.

It also means you are able to listen, understand, and take action on what other people say. This is the definition of effective communication and how a department, team or company builds success by understanding what needs to be done and doing it!

The hard part about effective communication in business is that people often don't know they are not conversing clearly. If you ask, most people will tell you they have strong effective communication skills. However, misunderstandings are common. So, you need to identify and eliminate possible bad habits, which will help you better connect with others and convey your meaning.

What is Effective Communication Today?

Good communication today is more difficult than in the past because there are so many more ways to connect. You would think getting your point across would be easier, but that is not the case.

With texting, email, instant messaging, Slack, Teams, and cellular phones, the options are overwhelming. To keep up with and respond to so many sources complicates the process. In addition, the habit of multi-tasking has completely derailed good listening skills as people pay attention far less while trying to do more than one thing.

With so many more choices of how to communicate, it is important that you choose words carefully because things can get easily misinterpreted. If you're unclear about a message, be sure to ask for clarification to avoid any confusion. Stay engaged and make sure to listen to understand.

Characteristics of Effective Communication?

We need to deconstruct communication. In its simplest form, communication involves a sender and a receiver. Messages are sent from the sender to the receiver. The receiver receives them. Sounds simple, right? Not so fast, the message is being sent via different channels.

Whether a message is sent face-to-face, over the phone, or through an email, slack, or text message, each of these methods can lead to miscommunications of varying degrees. 

Face-to-Face Communication

When we are face-to-face, the receiver can see the sender's facial expressions and body language. He or she can also hear the tone of the sender's voice. This gives more context to the conversation. It also allows the sender to determine whether their message has been received by reading the recipient's facial expression.

The positives of face-to-face communication do not eliminate the negatives. In the next section, we will cover some of the issues that can arise during face-to-face contact.

Phone Communication

Let's talk about phone communication now. As with face-to-face communication, the receiver hears the tone of voice, but both parties lack the visual aspect of communication. If the sender is tired or upset (even if the upset is unrelated to the content of the message) the receiver may misunderstand the message.

Text, Email or Slack Communication

Texts, emails or slack messages lack a great deal of the context we get from visuals (body language, facial expressions) and vocals (tone of voice). The person reading it will read it in their own tone of voice, which may or may not be what the sender intended.

There are many ways a message can be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Each person enters a conversation with their own filters, through which they send and receive messages. Our filters are affected by many factors, such as our education, our culture, our background, our biases, our knowledge of the topic, and our mood. Thus, they can affect how the message is interpreted. 

Styles of Communication

We each have a different style of communication, which is another barrier. Maybe you are someone who prefers bullet points, maybe you like to tell long stories, maybe you prefer facts and graphs, or maybe you prefer gentle respectful communication.

Each of these styles will impact how your message is sent and received. Our DiSC survey can help you and your team learn more about your personal style and how to modify it to make it more effective.

How can you ensure your message is received the way you intended? The first step is to make sure you are being as clear as possible. You should plan your message in advance. That is particularly true if this is a significant conversation. Ask yourself, what outcome am I trying to achieve?

When our conversation is finished, what do I want the other person to think, feel, or do? The more clear your intentions are, the more likely you are to achieve your goal. If you are going to talk about something important, you may want to write it down. Before sending written communications, you should ask someone else to take a look at them.

Next step, check for understanding. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. The simplest is to ask. "Was I clear?" "What do you think about what I said?", "Do you have any questions?" This isn't 100% effective, the receiver might "think" they understand, but still get it wrong.

You can also, if in person, watch for body language and facial expression clues. Is there tension between the eyebrows? That could mean that they are confused or maybe upset.

Providing Context

Communicating effectively requires that you provide context at the outset. Too often we jump into a conversation mid-thought. Your morning might have been filled with nothing but thoughts about what you wanted to talk about. That means the context is crystal clear to you. The listener, however, may have been thinking about something entirely different and they may take a bit of time getting up to speed.


At the beginning of your conversation, give a bit of background on what you will discuss. Consider answering the following unasked questions: "Why are you talking to me?" Why is this important?" What background information do I need to know?" 

But, of course, sending the message is only half the battle. Receiving the message is equally important. 

Listening

What can you do to be the best listener? First of all, remove all distractions. Turn off your phone, close your computer, turn off slack notifications. Clear your mind of other issues. I call it clearing out your mental rolodex. If possible take notes. Listen to understand, not confirm what you think you are going to hear. Ask questions to confirm understanding.

Your job as a listener is to be 100% present. That is not as easy as it sounds. We are humans and it is almost impossible to be 100% present. At any moment, our stomach might growl and we start thinking about lunch or a thought about something else crosses our mind and we stop listening as effectively.

In addition, the habit of multi-tasking has completely derailed good listening skills as people pay attention far less while trying to do more than one thing. If you are reading emails while listening on the phone, I guarantee you will miss important details. It may feel like it is more efficient to multitask. It is not. The best we can do is rapidly process between the email and the conversation.

With so many more choices of how to communicate, it is important that you choose words carefully because things can get easily misinterpreted. If you're unclear about a message, be sure to ask for clarification to avoid any confusion. Stay engaged and make sure to listen to understand.

"I cannot tell you how thankful I am that you came to be the person we chose to conduct our staff training, throughout the years, we've provided professional development opportunities to our caregivers.

Your presentation is, by far, the best we have experienced! You utilize all of your strengths in the presentation— your humor, compassion and vision are what make you so successful in what you do!"
—TAMMY KARMON, The Curious Kids Program

How can I be a more effective communicator?

When you think about it, people don't always know what they don't know about effective communication. 

If you are seeking to become a more effective communicator here are some tips:

Listen more than talk:

When we talk more than listen we miss an opportunity to learn. The other person will also perceive you more positively.

Stop multitasking:

As I said before, we can't effectively multitask, even if you think you can. You will be missing important information.

Proofread emails:

I know we are in a fast paced world. We think fast is better than perfect. In the email world, (especially because emails can live forever) you risk your reputation as well as the reputation of your company.

Plan your outcome:

Take time before any important discussions to plan what you are going to say and what you are hoping to accomplish during the conversation. The more clear you are before your conversation the more clear the conversation will be.

If you want to do more to be a better communicator:

Ask your family members or colleagues, "What are my strengths and weaknesses regarding communication?" You may learn that you have significant gaps in your ability to communicate. If that is the case, start working on ONE element of communication. You can work to improve your email skills, or practice listening skills, or practice giving better presentations.

If that feels daunting to you you can reach out to us. That is exactly the reason to hire Laurie Brown and have her train your team.

Improved communication leads to a variety of positive outcomes such as greater efficiency, more completed projects, and better relationships. Effective communication is the key to collaborative work so you can work through any struggles as a team and come out of it stronger. When everyone is clear of their own tasks and responsibilities, workflow runs smoothly. Plus, when employees feel comfortable speaking their mind and voicing their opinions, relationships improve, work ethic improves, and productivity increases. Non-verbal effective communication skills are just as important as verbal communication skills. Active listening supports work culture, boosts relationships, and makes employees more effective. Good listening ensures departments work well internally and with other departments as well. This is vital for ensuring people feel heard and acknowledged.

"As a team that works virtually from three states, we need to possess excellent internal and external communication skills. Laurie and her team provided supportive coaching on individual presentation skills and taught our agency vital and memorable techniques for communication in remote settings. We're now more effectively interacting with our clients and each other. Top-notch workshop. Highly recommended." Christine Slocumb

Hire Laurie Brown for Effective Communication Tips and Training

The importance of effective communication is undeniable. If your team is experiencing communication challenges and needs to communicate better, work with Laurie to facilitate proven training to improve how your employees relate to each other. Her programs are interactive and packed with superb content to get your people engaged. She adds just the right amount of humor to keep the team energized and focused. Laurie's program for effective communication in the workplace is perfect for breakout sessions or in-house training.

Contact Laurie now at (248) 761-7510 for Your Next Conference or Training.

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Presentation Skills Training in Michigan and Beyond | Ferndale, Michigan

© Laurie Brown. All rights reserved.