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10 Things People With Effective Communication Skills Have In Common

10 Things People With Effective Communication Skills Have In Common

Whether you’re ordering pizza delivery or dialing 911 for emergency care, effective communication can carry you through all aspects of life. It’s important, it’s essential and it’s not too hard to master.

While some excellent communication skills are inherent, those not naturally gifted with these traits can certainly practice to perfection.

As entrepreneur Brian Tracy said, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”

In order to be the best communicator that you can be, look at the list below. The 10 following attributes belong to true communication experts:

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1. They Listen

“We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally,” says Susan Cain author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Excellent listening is an essential skill in effective communicating. Being able to absorb what others say allows one to come up with appropriate responses. Great communicators don’t create one-sided conversations, because what’s the point of that?

They never try to think of responses as others are still speaking, because they don’t want to risk losing track of what is being said. By holding on to every word in the conversation, good communicators know just what fits when it comes time to speak.

2. They Can Relate to Others

As they listen intently, people with effective communication skills gain an understanding of their audience. Be it a room full of people, a group of online subscribers or just one other person, they can tailor their message for the specific listeners at hand.

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It’s absolutely necessary to have some insight regarding your crowd, because without that understanding, your words will fall flat. You wouldn’t want to praise burgers and pork chops to a group of PETA members while trying to win them over, would you? The understanding is beneficial for all members of the dialogue, as the messages are clear and all parties feel understood.

3. They Simplify the Complex

Some messages can be complicated, confusing or absolutely muddled. The good communicator, though, can take these messages and make them clear and concrete for his audience. Think of a teacher describing a new concept to an algebra class – if he can’t make the complicated understandable, his lesson will never get across to the students. By breaking down or rephrasing content, great communicators make the message more digestible to more people.

4. They Know When to Speak Up

Understanding when dialogue is required will always be helpful in good communication. Say, for example, an employee at work is slacking off or failing to understand a concept. A boss that recognizes the need for a conversation will be much better off than a boss that wordlessly sweeps the issue under the rug. They know when to speak up, and when it will do them good versus the instances in which it’s best to be quiet.

5. They Are Available

Whenever you need the excellent communicator, they make themselves available. They give you answers and don’t leave you hanging. They’re not the boyfriend that disappears and doesn’t text back for hours on end; they’re not the boss that has no time to explain assignments. Good communicators lead complete discussions, with which all parties are satisfied.

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6. They Practice Confidence

A good communicator knows she is a good communicator. She doesn’t hide behind vague language and she speaks loud and clear. Her air of confidence earns the trust of the audience, as she demonstrates that she knows what she’s talking about.

7. They Are Specific

If you’re going to get your message across, you’re not going to beat around the bush. Good communicators have a clear, concise point and there is no mistaking just what that is. She’ll give detailed instructions or ask targeted questions – she’ll leave no room for confusion.

Why, asks the communicator, would she waste time trying to sugarcoat her message with vague language? She’d much rather share it in a straightforward manner and avoid confusing the listener.

8. They Focus on Their Interactions

A big part of communicating well and respectfully is eliminating distractions from interactions. No one likes to be mid-conversation to have the other party start texting or shoving food in its face. By ridding his environment of these things, the good communicator is focused solely on the message and audience.

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9. They Ask Questions

Again, in an effort to best understand the audience, a good communicator uses questions – ones that are filled with specifics – amply. They fill any gaps of confusions with answers, not assumptions. Any knowledge gained through questioning helps to better fulfill the audience as well as to better get the communicator’s message across.

10. They Recognize Non-Verbal Cues

When chatting face-to-face, body language can be just as important as the words being spoken. Recognizing frustration, nervousness or excitement via non-verbal signals – like posture, facial expression and eye contact – helps the great communicator to understand her audience. In turn, she can better tailor her message to match the attitude of said audience.

Practicing these skills and improving your ability to communicate is worth your time and effort. As successful businessman Paul J. Meyer said, “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”

Featured photo credit: Anna Levinzon via flickr.com

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Kayla Matthews

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

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I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

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Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

     

    By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

    • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
    • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
    • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
    • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
    • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

    Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

    4. Take One Step at a Time

    Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

    Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

    For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

    This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

    5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

    With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

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    For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

    The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

    Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    6. Schedule Your Tasks

    Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

    What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

    For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

    Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

    While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

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    7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

    Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

    Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

    You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

    8. Check off Items as You Go

    You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

    There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

    If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

    9. Review and Reset as Necessary

    Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

    If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

    The Bottom Line

    When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

    More on Goal Action Plans

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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