7 Proven Ways On How To Communicate Effectively

Communication isn’t just a skill to put on a resume. It’s a very important element of our daily lives. Whether you are looking to move up the corporate ladder or strengthen your personal relationships, effective communication is key.

If you are tired of not being able to express yourself the way you’d like to, these techniques will give you ideas on how to communicate effectively.

Man and woman talking to each other

Understanding Types of Communication

Communication doesn’t always mean speaking. Non-verbal communication can be just as important. Body language like eye contact and gestures play a major role in conveying your thoughts and feelings.

It is important to pay close attention to your written communication as well. Without factors like your tone of voice and physicality, it is especially crucial to make sure that what you write is exactly what you want to say.

There are so many different ways to get your point across. If you want to know how to communicate effectively, you just need to pay attention to the ways you interact with people.

1. Listen More Than You Talk

Woman listening to another woman

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to communicate effectively, you need to listen for more than how you speak. If you aren’t listening, you won’t understand what it is you need to be responding to. This can leave you feeling uninformed and unprepared to put your best foot forward.

Inc points out that if you talk less, you also won’t risk revealing any extra information. If you are just speaking to fill the silence, you may not be adding anything relevant to the conversation. Additionally, you may share something that would have been best saved for another time.

If you are nervous about an interaction, it can be difficult to focus on what the other person is saying because you are thinking about what you are going to say next. You will get a lot more out of your conversations if you listen in order to understand other people, not just to respond to them.

2. Make the Right Kind of Eye Contact

Woman talking to a man in a cafe

Sometimes making direct eye contact with someone can feel strange and unnatural. However, it is necessary to convey confidence and show that you are interested in what other people have to say. You shouldn’t attempt to maintain unbroken eye contact for the entire conversation, but you should find a good balance.

As Business Insider points out, eye contact that appears too deliberate could be indicative of dishonesty. People who are lying know that eye contact is necessary for an honest interaction, so they may try to compensate by holding more eye contact than usual. This can make other people feel uncomfortable, which you definitely want to avoid.

What you should do instead is maintain a pleasant expression and make eye contact with the person you are speaking with for about 30% of the conversation. When you’re not making eye contact, all you need to do is briefly look away, which demonstrates that you are thinking about and processing what the other person has said to you.

If you are giving a presentation, you can still incorporate eye contact. When you gradually look around the room, you can make very brief eye contact with one person at a time. This will make people pay more attention to what you are saying and you will also appear more authoritative and knowledgeable.

Whatever the situation, eye contact is a good communication tool that you can use in the workplace and in your personal life.

3. Avoid Using Filler Words

Man wearing white shirt talking to someone on a phone

We are all susceptible to using filler words, for example, “like,” “um,” and “you know.” These are words that we use when we’re trying to think of what to say next, and they don’t really mean anything or help us make a point. It can be difficult to cut these words from your vocabulary but, with practice, you can reduce your use of filler words to say what you really want to say.

These types of words tend to appear most when we are speaking quickly, so if you slow down it is less likely that you will use an unnecessary filler word. Remember that there is nothing wrong with a brief pause, so don’t be embarrassed if you need a moment to collect your thoughts.

In informal settings or among friends, there’s no real need to cut the filler words entirely. However, it is a good practice to get into. You will find that the fewer filler words you use, the more substantial things you will be able to communicate.

4. Write the Way You Speak

Group of people on a meeting

You’d be surprised how much easier it is to compose a work email when you drop the extra formalities and write the way you would want someone to speak to you. A professional email can come off cold and unfriendly if you pack it with overly formal language.

Consider the difference between the phrase, “please find the requested spreadsheet attached” and, “I’ve attached the spreadsheet you requested.” The second option sounds a lot more natural, and as a result, you sound like someone who is approachable and willing to help. Not only have you said the exact thing you meant, but you’ve also made a connection with the recipient of your message. That isn’t to say you should write to your coworkers the same way you would to your friends, but there is often no need to be disingenuous.

This concept isn’t just for professional correspondence. Even a text message can feel personal when you use the tools that are available to you. If you feel like using an exclamation point or a fun emoji in a text to a friend or family member, by all means, do that. Written communication is all about conveying your feelings even when another person can’t see or hear you.

5. Check Your Writing

Woman checking something on a paper

Just because your message has a relaxed tone, doesn’t mean you should send it with errors. Always check your emails and texts before you send them to make sure there are no grammar, spelling, or punctuation issues. Be wary of auto-correct too – even if a word doesn’t have a red line under it, it could be incorrect. For example, your phone will not automatically change “there” to “their,” regardless of which one you meant to write.

A good trick is to read your message backwards, from bottom to top. Changing the way you read the message will force you to concentrate harder, so you can find errors that you may not have noticed before.

Writing a message can sometimes give you an advantage over speaking, because you have the ability to review what you’ve written first. Don’t miss an opportunity to make your best impression.

6.​ Paraphrase Others

Men having a conversation while seating on a chair

Teachers of other languages use paraphrasing to help people comprehend what they learn, but you can apply this technique in your everyday communication even if you are not learning a foreign language. Repeating what people say to confirm you understand it can be very helpful.

You can start a sentence with “from what I understand…” or, “to clarify…” and then paraphrase in order to emphasize key points of information. Repetition can benefit you in many ways. The person you are talking to will feel valued because it is clear that you are listening.

Repeating information also helps you retain it. If you repeat things out loud that you want to remember now, you are less likely to forget them later. Communication is a two-way street, so it’s important to make sure that you have all of the information before you respond to it.

7. Keep it Simple

Group of people smiling together

There are times when you might say things that don’t need to be said for any number of reasons. We tend to talk more when we’re nervous, or if we’re worried that we aren’t explaining ourselves well enough. But one of the most important parts to learning how to communicate effectively is knowing what to say and what to keep to yourself, which ties into talking less and listening more.

If you are telling a story, for instance, you would want to include only the most important parts and avoid too many superfluous details in order to keep the attention of your audience. Were you to go on a tangent, you might lose interest. You want to minimize distractions and say only what needs to be said.

Of course, if you have some additional information that might be of interest to someone you’re speaking with, you can incorporate that somehow. Typically, it’s best to wait to share unrelated pieces of information until later. You never know when you’ll have the perfect opportunity to bring up an interesting tidbit that may not have been relevant before.

Are You Saying What You Want to Say?

Group of people smiling while sitting on grass

Learning how to communicate effectively doesn’t happen overnight. It is a continuous learning process, and what you say might not always be perfect. However, it’s a skill worth developing, no matter how long it takes. With these simple tips, you will be on your way to communicating in a friendly, succinct, and confident manner.



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