We listen to each other with our ears, our eyes and our life experience. In fact, it's estimated that our words are only 20 percent or less of what we communicate. Many factors, including the locale, the time of day and simple intuition affect how well we're understood. The message that's received isn't always the one sent. Here's how to make sure your words are in synch with the way you say them.
Tips for clear communication:
- Use "I feel" statements (i.e. I feel ________ when _________ happens)
- Express your thoughts, feelings, and ideas, openly and honestly
- Use a firm, calm voice
- Establish appropriate distance from the other person
- Ask for what you want; if you just need someone to listen, say so
- Match body language and facial expression with spoken words
- Listen to yourself: tape record yourself and listen to how you come across. Pay attention to volume, tone, pitch, pace, and patterns in your speech
Active listening is also essential for effective communication: If you want to be heard, listen!
Tips for active listening:
- Give your undivided attention
- Make eye contact
- Show interest by leaning forward, nodding, saying things like "go on", "uh huh."
- Keep an open mind; don't prepare your own reply while the other person is speaking
- Listen to the entire message
- Ask for clarification
- Reflect back what you heard by paraphrasing
Updated March 22, 2007 | Maintained by Debra Tipton