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Effective Communication


A. understand what effective communication is

B. identify what you could improve in your daily and business communication
C. get ideas on how to start making your communication more effective
Effective communication is a key interpersonal skill. To be successful in business, we must be able to create effective communication with potential customers and partners, as well as people inside our company. 

Time needed to review this content: 30 MIN


Communication is more than just exchanging information. It's about understanding the emotion and intentions behind the information.  
Sometimes - despite our best intentions - what we try to communicate gets lost in translation. We say one thing but the other person hears something else and, as a result, misunderstandings and conflicts arise. 

Fortunately, we can learn how to communicate more clearly and effectively. It takes time and effort to develop these skills but the more effort and practice you put in, the more instinctive and spontaneous your communication skills will become.
To be effective in communication, we must be aware of possible BARRIERS - various aspects or conditions that interfere in an effective exchange of ideas or thoughts - and learn how to deal with them.

 The communication barriers include:
1. Physical barriers - environmental and natural conditions, for example:
·       Closed doors, separations may interfere with an effective teamwork;
·       Noise - phone calls, late arrivals physically disturb a meeting by interrupting the speaker and the participants;
·       Distance - the greater the distance, the more carefully the communication channel/ media types should be selected in order to avoid defects in communication,
·       Information/ work overload, information duplication - when information becomes more than that can be received at a particular time, the receiver can miss some important points or misinterpret the meaning of the whole message altogether.

2. Semantic and language barriers - similar sounding words, multiple meanings, no clarity in speech, not being specific;

3. Socio-psychological barriers - different attitudes, stress, distrust, etc.;

4. Organisational barriers - loss or distortion of messages as they pass from one person (or level) to another, lack of a communication policy, poorly defined responsibility and roles.

5. Cross-Cultural barriers arise as the mind-set of people of different cultures, the language, values, concept of time, social relation, concept of space, gestures are different.

See the video examples below on how some communication barriers arise and can be overcome.
A number of issues related to communication can be resolved by better organisation, while the others require certain communication skills and competences. Some of the most important skills that every successful entrepreneur should develop include:

1. Active listening and empathy
The best thing you can do to improve your communication skills is to learn to really listen—to pay attention and let the other person talk without interrupting.
Active listening involves consciously hearing beyond just the words spoken. Notice the speaker’s body language. Use your own body language to show you’re listening by nodding and smiling appropriately. Offer feedback and thoughtful comments.
Developing empathy helps you better understand even the unspoken parts of your communication with others, and helps you respond more effectively.

2. Effective speaking
Know exactly what you are trying to communicate. Conduct necessary research in advance, and have your ideas organized logically. Be sure you tailor your message to the audience, using language and concepts they will understand. Develop the ability to get to the point in a sharp and focused manner and communicate that across mediums. Find ways to cut the fat off your verbal and written communications and notice whether it gets you better results.
It’s also important to know why you’re communicating. What do you want people to take away? What action should they take after you interact? Every communication should have a call to action, even if that call to action is to leave with a positive feeling about you or your brand. Ask yourself why you’re communicating before you write, pick up the phone or step into your next meeting and make sure your tone, word choice and delivery are in service to that goal.

3. Storytelling
Those who tell the stories rule the world. No one cares about your marketing goals. But everyone likes a good story. 
Stories create “sticky” memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. That means
leaders who can create and share good stories have a powerful advantage over others. And
everyone has the ability to become a better storyteller.
To tell a story, start with a message: who is your audience and what is the message you want to share with them? Look to your own memories and life experiences for ways to illustrate your message but include the details that will resonate with your audience. Keep it simple. Practice your story with friends and trusted colleagues to make it perfect.

4. Questioning and reflection

Asking questions and repeating the other person’s last few words shows you’re interested in what they say, keeps you focused, and helps clarify points that could be misunderstood.
Open-ended, probing questions encourage the person to reflect, it makes them feel heard and invites dialog and connection. Follow-up questions after a response shows you are engaged in the conversation and interested in the person. 

5. Non-verbal communication

You are constantly communicating even when you are not saying a word. How you stand, your facial expression, and your eyes tell a story and create the very first impression others have of you. It doesn’t matter how powerful your words, if you don’t appear confident and friendly,
people will assume you aren’t. Become aware of your body language, and begin to make
changes. Look others in the eye when you speak. Offer a firm handshake. Stand up straight and hold your head high with your shoulders back. Don’t cross your arms or legs in a defensive
posture. When you mirror someone’s body language, you are offering non-verbal cues that you relate to them and feel the same as they do. In fact, research shows people who share the same emotions are likely to experience stronger levels of trust, connection and empathy.

A Failure to Communicate
Learn how different barriers can make communication difficult

Communication Barriers 
Watch this short animated story to see how communication misunderstandings can arise and lead to conflict

Think fast, talk smart: communication techniques
by Stanford Graduate School of Business

Watch this video/ interactive lecture if you would like to learn and practice techniques that will help you speak spontaneously with greater confidence and clarity, regardless of content and context.


Tips for overcoming communication barriers

On an individual level:
1. Select the most appropriate channel for the message.
2. Make a special effort to understand each other`s perspective.
3. Pay attention to nonverbal signs - your own and other speakers.
4. Be an engaged listener.

On an organisational level:
5. Create a climate of trust and openness.
6. Encourage the use of multiple channels including formal and informal communication.
7. The organisational structure should fit communication needs.

For physical barriers:
8. Appropriate seating arrangements.
9. Ensure visibility and audibility.
10. Environmental comfort.
11. Minimise visual/ oral distractions.

For semantic barriers:
12. Use of simple language.
13. Use symbols and charts to visualise the message.
14. Active listening/ constructive feedback.

For socio-psychological barriers:

15. Calling attention & motivation;
16. Assistance & sympathy;
17. Managing your emotions;

For cross cultural barriers:
18. Promote an understanding of other traditions and customs.
19. Provide intercultural training.
20. Avoid jokes or sarcasm.
21. Be careful with translation of body language - ask questions if you don`t understand.

To improve non-verbal communication:
- You may want to ask a friend or colleague to give you some feedback on your non-verbal behaviour. This feedback can be very useful, as often, we do not really know how we appear to others.
- If you are able to, it may be useful to videotape yourself having a conversation, and note what your body language may be communicating. Once you have identified a couple of trouble spots, practice the appropriate body language.
- You can also practice your new non-verbal skills in front of a mirror.


Effective communication is very important for business success
With effort and practice, everybody can become a better communicator
Watch for possible communication barriers and learn to overcome them
Learn to really listen, ask questions, speak clearly and watch the body language
Everybody has a story to tell - what's the story of your business?


What communication barriers can you identify in your workplace?
How could you reduce them?
Can you tell a story of your business in 2 minutes?


Improve your active listening skills
7 Cs of Effective Business Communication
The 22 rules of storytelling, according to PIXAR 
Learn how to read other people's body language
Your body language shapes who you are
Learn from this TED talk how "power posing" -- standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident -- can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might have an impact on our chances for success.

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