14 Very Effective Communication Skills

by Jonathan

Effective Communication Skills

According to numerous surveys, approximately 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication and relationship building skills.

That means that no matter how ambitious someone is or how much they overcome their fears or how high their level of education, they’ll still have a low probability of going far in life without effective communication with skills needed to really connect with people.

And when I say connect with people, I don’t mean the ones that you naturally connect with from time to time. It is likely that those people have values and temperaments that closely match your values and temperaments. It doesn’t require much effort or skill to connect with those people.

Communication and success

I’m referring to the people that you like but you often find it more difficult to build a connection with them because you’re not sure what to say or do.

It takes skill to expand outside of that small circle of people that you’re used to and learning how to connect with the majority of people you come across. It is this kind of power that is guaranteed to catapult your success in life.

Developing your communication skills

When you’re trying to connect with the majority of people, you need to ask yourself 5 questions:

- Are you finding a common ground between you two?
- Are you making them feel comfortable?
- Are you making them feel understood?
- Is your relationship clearly defined?
- Are they feeling positive emotions as a result of interacting with you?

In order to fulfill these goals, you might want to consider the following…

14 Effective communication skills

1. Give them the impression that you’re enthusiastic about talking to them. Give them the impression that you would rather talk to them than anyone else in the world. When you give them the impression that you are excited about talking to them and that you care about them, you make them feel supremely positive and confident about themselves. They’ll be more likely to open up to you and have deep, personable conversations with you.

2. Ask open-ended questions about their interests. Ask questions that will get them to talk about their interests and their life in a way they never have before. Go into as much detail as possible and help them gain a new perspective about themselves and where they want to go in life.

3. Adapt to their body language and feelings. Get a feel for how they are feeling at the moment by observing their body language and voice tone. From this standpoint, you can tailor your words, body language, and voice tone to the ones they are more likely to respond positively to.

4. Show them approval: Tell them what you admire about them and why. One of the best ways to instantly connect with people is to be forthright and tell them exactly why you like or admire them. If being too direct isn’t appropriate, insinuate with a few indirect statements here and there. Either approach can be equally as effective.

5. Listen attentively to everything they say. Don’t focus too much on what you’re going to say next as they are talking. Instead, listen to every word they say and respond back as relevantly and smoothly as possible. This shows people that you are truly listening to what they have to say and you are fully engaged and in the moment with them. Also make sure to ask questions whenever there’s something they say that you don’t quite understand. You want to avoid all possible lapses in communication if you want to develop a fully engaged relationship with that person.

6. Give them prolonged eye contact. Strong eye contact communicates to the other person that you are not only captivated by them and what they have to say but that you are also trustworthy. When done in moderation, they will also assume you are confident in yourself because of your willingness to face them directly. As a result, people will naturally want to pay more attention to you and what you have to say.

7. Reveal as much about yourself as possible. One of the best ways to earn someone’s trust is to reveal yourself as openly as you can. Tell stories about interesting events from your life or just describe zany instances from normal everyday life. As you do this, make sure not to mention things that stray too far from where their interests and values lie. You can let them find out more about you as the relationship progresses.

8. Give the impression that you’re both on the same team. Use words like “we, us, we’re, our, and ourselves” to instantly build a bond. When you use those words, you make it seem like you and the other person are on the same team while everyone else seems more distant from the two of you.

9. Give them your best smile. When you smile at people, you communicate that you like them and their presence brings you happiness. Smiling at them will cause them to subconsciously want to smile back at you which will instantly build rapport between the two of you.

10. Offer helpful suggestions. Recommend restaurants you’ve been to, places you’ve been to, movies you’ve seen, helpful people they’d like to meet, books you’ve read, career opportunities and whatever else you can think of. Describe what was so great about those people, places and things and how they might appeal to the other person. If you suggest enough ideas that interest them, they will look at you as a “go to” person when they need to make a decision about what to do next.

11. Give them encouragement. If the person you’re dealing with is younger or in a more difficult position than you, they might want to hear some words of encouragement from you since you are more experienced or you seem to be doing well in life. This helps even out the relationship. If you want to have a healthy relationship with that person, you don’t want to seem like you have it all while the other person has nothing. Convince them that they can surpass their problems and limitations and they will look forward to having you as a person to talk to.

12. Appear to have a slightly higher energy level than the other person. Generally, people want to be around those who lift them up, instead of bringing them down. If you consistently have a lower energy level than other people, they will naturally gravitate away from you in favor of someone who is more energetic. To prevent this from happening, consistently indicate with your voice and your body language that you have a slightly higher energy level so that they’ll feel more energized and positive while around you. Don’t be so energetic that you put people off, but have just the right amount of energy and aliveness that will slightly build up their enthusiasm.

13. Say their name in a way that is pleasing to their ears. A person’s name is one of the most emotionally powerful words for them. But it’s not necessarily how often you say someone’s name that has an impact but how you say it. It may help if you practiced saying a person’s name for a minute or two so that you’ll induce just the right emotional reaction you’re going after. Invariably, if you state their name the most eloquently out of everyone they know, they’ll find you to be the most memorable.

14. Offer to take the relationship a step further. There are a number of things you could do to advance your friendship with someone: offer to eat with them, talk over a cup of coffee, see a sports game, have a beer or two with them, etc. Even if people don’t take you up on your offers, they will be flattered that you like them enough to want to take the friendship to a deeper level. In a way, they will look up to you because you have the guts to take charge of your life and build friendships instead of expecting those friendships to magically appear for you.

Become a skilled communicator

If you can develop only a few of these techniques, you’ll dramatically improve your ability to connect with people from all walks in life and social circles. Take some time to observe the most sociable people in your life and you’ll see many of these methods in full use. And they aren’t done in a way that is rigid or in a way that would be too noticeable by most people. They are done naturally and in a way that fits in with the current situation.

For the best results, just relax and let these techniques flow out of you naturally. Be as close to your true self as you can. Choose the techniques that fit best with your personality and what your motives are when you interact with people. Learn to get a feel for which ones to use for particular situations and the ones that don’t match so well with who you are as a person.

Communication skills lead to new opportunities

Since people play such a big role in your life, your entire life will go much smoother if you develop not only the techniques that fit best with who you are as an individual but the ones you can think of that aren’t on this list.

Before long, you’ll learn to connect with the people you’ve always wanted to get to know better but couldn’t because you weren’t quite sure what to say or do to build a more meaningful relationship with them. And as a result of these new relationships, you’ll open up an abundance of new opportunities for yourself that weren’t available to you before. That’s the power of effective communication skills.

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If one of your goals in life is to become a fearless and confident public speaker, my friend and colleague Andrew Rondeau can help. He has put together a truly comprehensive resource for mastering public speaking.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank J

Great tips that can be practiced at work and home. You rock Jonathan!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Frank, I really appreciate your support my friend.

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Steven Aitchison

Jonathan, these are great tips. You pretty much described the communication strategies of coaches and counselors which was great to see and read.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Steve. From my experience if a coach doesn’t first build a certain degree of comfort and trust in a client, he or she will never find out that person’s innermost thoughts and feelings. Which makes sense since most of us don’t tell people exactly what we think and feel until we really get to know that person and trust them to react to our real selves in a positive manner.

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Mike

Jonathan,
Very useful tips and reminders. I found the 85% number very interesting. It kind of goes back to that old saying of “people make the world go round.” And it you can’t effectively interact (communicate) with other people it can become the limiting factor in one’s life.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

That’s definitely true Mike, and there’s no getting around it. Even in the field of computers, the people with the best communication skills tend to have the most customers or if they work for a corporation, they tend to get the most promotions.

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Dragos Roua

Thanks for the post, it’s really good. Especially keeping a prolonged eye contact was something worth reminding. I recently started to practice this, whenever I want to “fixate” the conversation on a certain topic. The more I look the other person in the eyes, the more she wants to keep talking :-)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dragos, it is true that most women appreciate it when men let them express themselves fully. Nothing beats sincere eye contact when it comes to making someone feel special. Of course, a warm smile and an inquisitive attitude are also useful communication tools.

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Eduard

Hey Jonathan,

I appreciate the fact you don’t give out generic advice in this post, you go into very specific communication skills and actions. As a person who teaches communication skills, I think this is very important for real progress in this area. Great post!

Eduard

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Eduard, I always try to include some useful specifics so readers can make practical use of the information provided.

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Gail @ A Flourishing Life

These are all great skills to facilitate connection. Thanks, Jonathan. I might add that a successful conversation is one in which you show up in an authentic way. It’s fine to use skills, but even better to use them when you are communicating sincerely from the heart.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Such an important point Gail. When we speak from the heart, our words have a bigger impact, not only on others, but also on ourselves. And if some people don’t like what we have to say when we are communicating sincerely from the heart, at least we’ll open up opportunities to meet other people who will.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is to meet people who like and accept us for who we really are.

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Mike King

Solid advice Jonathan as always. Your point about being open is powerful and often forgotten with communication. The only thing I can add to this is that it is also useful to share a vulnerability with the other person. This is the fastest way to prove you are being open and willing to connect one step further than most. That little bit of risk in sharing a vulnerability can go a long way when communicating or building a new relationship.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Mike, it can be useful to share our greatest vulnerabilities with the people we trust. We all know what can happen when a relationship such as a marriage if the marriage mates insist on holding back important or deeply-emotional information from each other.

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Walter

Communication skill may sound all too easy, but in fact it is hard. We oftentimes think we are communicating, not realizing we are dominating. :-)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Very true Walter. It can be frustrating to listen to somebody who would rather hear themselves talk without giving any consideration whatsoever to the thoughts and opinions of others. That’s not communication!

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Lana

Great post Jonathan, thanks! All the points are so intuitive and make so much sense but so few of us are actually using all of them. It definitely helps to read articles like this one to consciously make the choice to become a better communicator and have a list at hand of how to do it. Thank you!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

You are very welcome, Lana. I’m glad you found it insightful. Perhaps a good starting point would be to focus on only one or two of these communication skills at a time so that you won’t be trying too many things at once. I think you are more likely have faster results with that approach.

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Kikolani

I think one of the most valuable skills is to really believe in whatever you are speaking about, whether it is to one person or a room full of people. If you truly believe in why you are speaking about something, the rest really comes naturally.

~ Kristi

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

So true Kristi, the words flow out much easier when I say something I’m passionate about rather than trying to force something out that I don’t really care about. I’m sure that’s true for most people.

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Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice

Great post Jonathan! I also concur with Kristi. When you believe in what you’re saying with sincerity and authenticity then I think people naturally pick up and respond accordingly.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Absolutely true Amit. There’s always more emotional impact behind our words when we say what we are truly passionate about and believe in. That’s a good indication for what we should talk more about.

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Nea

Wow… you’ve given some wonderful tips here. As an introvert, many of these don’t come naturally to me. #7 (reveal as much about yourself as possible) is especially hard for me. I’d much rather listen to others, comfort them, and offer help than to open myself to someone with whom I don’t have an established bond. Like everyone, I’m a work in progress.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Good point Nea. It’s not always a good idea to reveal information that’s too personal to people we’ve barely met. Perhaps we could still talk about our opinions of our immediate surroundings, music, movies, restaurants, etc. Or we can focus on giving our opinions of what the other person is interested in. That’s a good way to reveal ourselves without giving away too much personal information.

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Robin Dickinson

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for this excellent post. Just wanted to add that when you say, “Give them the impression that you’re enthusiastic about talking to them” why not just BE enthusiastic about talking to them.

If people are your priority, and you have a genuine appreciation of – and respect for – them, their opinions and their needs, your authentic focus will naturally beam out of you. They will instantly get that you are not only enthusiastic, but also curious and deeply centred on being valuable for them.

I have no doubt that this is what you meant. It’s just that “Give them the impression…” may be misunderstood as something a little less genuine (especially to those who are more ‘technique-based’ and negatively manipulative in their approach).

Thanks for the opportunity to chime in with a perception.

Best, Robin

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

I know exactly what you mean, Robin. It’s not good to go past the point of social etiquette and go out of our way to pretend that we like someone. That would seem quite draining for any person who would attempt this.

That tip is mainly for people who might display low / unenthused energy levels like I did a few years ago before some sales managers and instructors suggested that I take notice of this.

You’re very understanding of my intention though and I appreciate that.

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Farnoosh

One more one more: I remember this from a speech expert at a class years ago: Fake confidence (until you develop it). It does not mean pretending you know what you do not know. Being truthful and sincere but faking the confidence, if it escapes you in presence of nervousness, is a way to communicate effectively. Has worked for me.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Farnoosh, and here I thought you were just naturally confident. The reason this technique works is because adopting the physiology, speech patterns, and attitude of a confident person sends powerful signals to your nervous system. In turn, your nervous system will adjust to conform to those signals.

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Abohadi

Well done. I found this post great. It provides me with useful information.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Greetings Abohadi, so glad you liked it.

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Joan

Jonathan, you shared essential behaviors to be an effective communicator, but I fully agree with Robin D. comments above. Instead of giving the impression that you are enthusiastic, why not actually be enthusiastic. If one just pretends, generally people can read right through that.
If one can give true energy and enthusiasm back to their communication partner, that is the sign of being an authentic communicator.

Joan

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Joan, if the enthusiasm doesn’t come naturally, but you want to be enthusiastic for the sake of improved communication, then what?
By acting enthusiastic you can train yourself to actually become a more enthusiastic person. Consider it a practice session used to encourage the development of a new personality trait. We can use actions to reprogram our genuine behavior.

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Vinay Bharadwaj

I just love this article! Precise and conveys exactly what’s required.. :)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thanks Vinay, I really appreciate your positive feedback.

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Dean

What I really like about this article is that most of the suggestions focus on one thing…the other person. Truly that is a BIG part of having better conversations and interactions with others. For the past 3,000 years or more, the top topic of conversation has been “Tell me more about you!”

One other tip I’ll add is to be mindful. Be present in the current moment. Listen to the other person and watch their body-language. By being mindful, you are more alert and aware and more capable of handling the interaction. Double bonus – this raises your confidence too!

Great post – thanks!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Excellent suggestions Dean, thanks for sharing them. I like the saying the reason God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth is so we would spend twice the time listening and only half the time talking.

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somart

That is very great, I love this post… and very helpful for practice at home and work…

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Sara

Wow. great tips – very helpful for all of us who want to make our communication more Effective. So thanks for this article.

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nityapriya

The post is very interesting. The points specified are quite impressive. A conversation is a spontaneous interaction between two or more people. We all have conversations with family and friends. However, many of us may be labeled as “boring” if we make long and meaningless conversations. I will suggest that everybody should know how much to talk and how to talk?

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