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Improve your Communication Skills

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Posted 29 February 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Listening Skills skills training.

Improve your communication skills

You might define communication as:
"A transfer of information and / or emotion from one mind to another".

And you might define good communication as:
"The ACCURATE transfer of information and / or emotion from your mind, to another mind".

Information? What kind of information?

  1. Technical
  2. Non-technical.

If it is technical information, then the following rules apply:

Speak logically

Logical speech is:

  1. Specific
  2. Factual
  3. Often numerical
  4. Systematic
  5. Detailed
  6. Objective
  7. Non contradictory
  8. Non humorous
  9. Non emotional

If the content is non-technical If the content is non-technical then you can ignore the above notes and relax a little.

Non-technical speech can be

  1. Evaluative
  2. Ambiguous
  3. Opinionated
  4. Lacking in specific numerical values
  5. Not rigidly structured, i.e. more flowing
  6. To a degree, unstructured
  7. Vague
  8. Subjective
  9. Humorous
  10. Emotional

How much information?

The human mind has limitations.

There is only so much information that your brain can digest in one sitting, before it:

  1. Loses interest or
  2. Gets tired

As a communicator: you must take that fact into account and place limits on your speech.

If you have a lot of information.
If you have lots of information to explain, you must break it down into manageable chunks:

a) Do that by thinking in terms of categories, and put all similar ideas together into the same category.
b) Then think in terms of sequence and place the categories in the right order.
c) Then think in terms of volume, and try to reduce the content to the minimum so that you use the least number of words necessary to say your message.

If you have only a small one: i.e. Not-much information

If you have only a little to say: then you can afford to relax your style and use a few more words.

You can "pad it out".
Throw in a few examples.
Maybe even tell a joke!
But don't overdo it or your message will be lost.

If you are attempting to transfer information, then, to how many people?

1. From you to ONE other?

If your communication is only to one person, be context specific.

Use examples that will appeal to the individual recipient.

Tailor your message as closely as you can to the context of your specific listener or reader.

If it is from you to MANY others If you are communicating to a more general audience, then pick examples that are equally general. Draw from common knowledge or general experience. i.e.

Everyone has family
Everyone had emotions
Everyone has problems
Illustrate your message by drawing on common human experiences

By what method?

We live in an information age, with many channels open to us.

  1. Email.
    If you are writing emails, then: keep them brief
  2. Letter.
    If you are writing letters then keep to the proper protocols for letter writing. Employ only correct English.

Examples:
The correct use of terminations of letters.

  • Yours
  • Yours sincerely
  • Yours faithfully
  • Best regards

If you don't know the proper protocols, then look them up.

Don't guess.

Guessing is a shocking habit.

3. Full reports.
If you are writing a full report, use the format which is taken as the agreed standard for your organisation.

Again; don't guess.

If there is no agreed format, then use a prepared template that is easily accessible on line.

In order to do what? Are you trying to inform the other of the facts?

If you want to inform people of the facts, then use the advice I gave for logical speech:

Logical speech is:

  1. Specific
  2. Factual
  3. Often numerical
  4. Systematic
  5. Detailed
  6. Objective
  7. Non contradictory
  8. Non humorous
  9. Non emotional

Are you trying to persuade the other to take an action or believe something?

If you want to persuade somebody that something is true, then you must validate your claim by making reference to:

  1. Observed evidence
  2. Logical reasoning
  3. A coherent theory Or better still, all three.

If you want to persuade somebody that some action is to be taken, then you should explain:

  1. The beneficial consequences that will be enjoyed BUT ONLY IF your suggested action is implemented.
  2. The ominous and painful consequences that will befall anyone IF they don't act in accordance with your advice.

If you wish to enquire, in order to discover the facts, opinions or feelings.

If you want to find out information, then ensure you state your question exactly.

Don't ask open questions: An open question is a question with many possible interpretations.

Example

Don't ask "WHY?" questions!
An unspecified "Why?" question is a question with too many possible interpretations.

It is too vague. It could mean either:

  1. "For what purpose did you do X"
  2. "What causes led up to you doing X"

They are different questions, suggesting different classes of answers.

If you intend "WHY?" to mean: "For what purpose" then, ask "For what purpose....?"

Note: "For what purpose....?" has a future tense orientation.

If you intend your "Why?" question to mean: "What cause.......?"

Then say "What caused you to do that?"

Note "For what cause?" has a past tense orientation.

Use the right tool for the job.

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