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14 Very Effective Communication Skills

effective communication skills

Statistics point to the fact that approximately 85% percent of our success in life is directly attributable to our communication skills. That means that no matter how ambitious, how committed, or how highly educated someone is, they still have a low probability of success unless they develop the right communication skills.

If you really look at the way people tend to converse with one another, it becomes very clear that most of us could probably benefit from giving some attention to our communication skills.

“The quality of your life is the quality of your communication.” ~Tony Robbins

Communication skills and success

Any time you want to expand your reach beyond your personal inner circle and connect with people who think and feel differently than you do, your communication skills will be the key factor that determine your results.

The good news is that anyone can develop good communication skills. And it’s encouraging to know that even small improvements in your ability to connect with others will have a profound effect on the quality of your life and business.

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” ~Paul J. Meyer

Developing your communication skills

When you’re trying to connect with a wide variety of people, you need to start by asking yourself 5 questions:

- What common ground do we share?
- Do they feel comfortable with our conversation?
- Are my responses making them feel understood?
- Is my intent being clearly defined?
- Will our connection be better after our interaction?

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. They want to feel that you would rather be talking to them than anyone else. When you give them the impression that you are excited about talking to them and that you care about them, you make them feel better about themselves. As a result, they’ll be more likely to really open up to 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 that provides you with insight into their needs and wants. When you help them gain a new, positive perspective about their situation, they will feel a deep sense of connection with you.

3. Adapt to their body language and feelings. Pay special attention to their nonverbal communication. Watch their body language and posture,  also take note of their inflection and word choices. Now, tailor your words, body language, and voice tone to match what you have observed. Doing this will help them feel a deep subconscious connection with you.

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 because everyone responds well to approval.

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 interested in 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. This will help fill any potentially awkward lapses in communication.

6. Give them the right amount of eye contact. Eye contact communicates to the other person that you are not only interested in 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. Nothing builds trust like genuine transparency. Y

8. Give the impression that you are 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 are all on the same team with a common goal or concern. This moves you into their circle while everyone else seems lack your special insight and understanding.

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. Just make sure that your smile is sincere because if it’s not they will sense it.

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 will appreciate any encouragement you can offer. When you help them feel more confident in their own abilities they will value your input. This helps even out the relationship. Convince them that they can surpass their problems and limitations and they will feel good about connecting with you.

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  indicate with your voice and your body language that you have a slightly higher energy level, they will feel more energized and positive while around you. Don’t be so energetic that you put people off, but have enough so that they feel energized after talking with you.

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 how you say it is more important than how often say it. If you say their name with they right inflection, it can actually convey a lot of positive feeling directly to their nervous system. If their name feels good to them when you say it, they will feel bonded to you on a subconscious level without even knowing why.

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 take the time to develop even a few of these communication skills, you will dramatically improve your ability to connect with people from all walks in life at work and in social circles. Take some time to observe the most socially skilled people you know and you’ll see many of these methods in full use. Notice that they aren’t done in a way that is rigid or in a way that would be too noticeable. They are done naturally and in a way that fits in with the current situation.

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” ~Lee Iacocca

For the best results, just relax and let these communication skills flow naturally. Be as close to your true self as you can. Choose the techniques that fit best with your personality and your motives when you interact with people. Learn to get a feel for which ones to use for particular situations and the ones don’t resonate 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 take the time to improve the way you connect with others by developing better communication skills.

Before long, you’ll find it easy to connect with just about anyone in any situation. This ability will open up an abundance of new opportunities that would not have been available otherwise. That’s the power of effective communication skills.

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If one of your goals is to become a fearless and confident public speaker, this short video has some excellent public speaking tips from world class speaker.

43 Comments

  1. Frank J December 14, 2009 Reply

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

    • Jonathan December 14, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Frank, I really appreciate your support my friend.

  2. Steven Aitchison December 14, 2009 Reply

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

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  3. Mike December 14, 2009 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      That’s definitely true Mike, and there’s no getting around it. In the business world, it’s 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.

  4. Dragos Roua December 14, 2009 Reply

    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 :-)

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  5. Eduard December 14, 2009 Reply

    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

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

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

  6. Gail @ A Flourishing Life December 14, 2009 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  7. Mike King December 14, 2009 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  8. Walter December 15, 2009 Reply

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

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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!

  9. Lana December 16, 2009 Reply

    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!

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  10. Kikolani December 16, 2009 Reply

    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

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  11. Amit Sodha December 17, 2009 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  12. Nea December 19, 2009 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  13. Robin Dickinson December 21, 2009 Reply

    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

    • Jonathan February 1, 2012 Reply

      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.

  14. Farnoosh January 6, 2010 Reply

    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.

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      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.

  15. Abohadi January 22, 2010 Reply

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

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      Greetings Abohadi, so glad you liked it.

  16. Joan November 14, 2010 Reply

    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

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      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.

  17. Vinay Bharadwaj November 17, 2010 Reply

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

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Vinay, I really appreciate your positive feedback.

  18. Dean May 25, 2011 Reply

    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!

    • Jonathan May 26, 2011 Reply

      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.

  19. somart September 5, 2012 Reply

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

  20. Sara January 7, 2013 Reply

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

  21. nityapriya June 14, 2013 Reply

    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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