Effective communication is defined by sociologists as “the process of learning how to work effectively with others.” Some argue that this definition oversimplifies what it really means. What we mean by effective communication is a set of principles and behaviors that we develop so that we can develop these ideas and concepts effectively and appropriately.
Communication is influenced by the way we listen, act, understand, and apply these concepts to the world around us. Effective communication is different from effective listening, because listening to people in an active and thoughtful way is our best tool for developing these skills. We build our understanding, expand our knowledge, and understand other people’s experiences based on our observations, discussions, and other techniques.
People often think that developing good communication skills will automatically lead to great interpersonal relationships. It doesn’t. There are a number of different tools that you can use to become better at listening and developing great communication skills. Listening takes time and practice but it can lead to much greater understanding of others and, ultimately, what they want and need from you.
A key element in effective communication is learning how to stay focused on one topic at a time. The best practices outline a process for breaking up a complex conversation into a series of small actions. In effect, you’re applying common sense to the problem of trying to tackle a big topic.
Communication is very simple when you break it down into manageable steps. In the case of understanding people’s needs, focus on the important things in their lives. Understand their goals and desires. Identify the obstacles they may be facing that may hold them back.
Write down their interests and hobbies, and try to avoid anything that may distract you from their interest areas. Then, instead of rushing through your message, sit down and be deliberate and focused. Listen to their answers carefully, and then make note of your own notes. Take this information back to your daily routine and use it to develop your ability to pay attention and stay focused.
Effective listening does not happen instantaneously. It is a skill. It’s like any skill you develop to become better at something. Practice is the key. The more you practice this skill, the better you will become at it.
Learning how to listen effectively is an ongoing process. You never stop learning. But by practicing the best practices you will begin to develop your skills to a greater degree.
This can be done in practice with friends or family or with other people, but it will become much easier and more effective if you use the best practices to help you. Most of the time, the best practices just fall out of your lap.
By doing this, you’ll also find that your new skills are much easier to implement into your life. So, you can practice with your spouse, your family, or your friends, but you won’t find it as difficult to do this as it would be to begin with. This is an opportunity to expand your practice of listening and communication by finding a way to bring it into your everyday life.
Becoming a good listener is easy when you know how to listen. It’s not rocket science and it doesn’t take years of training. If you’re willing to start practicing your listening skills, you’ll be able to get these things done in a few short weeks.
Start practicing listening today. You’ll be glad you did.