3 Keys to Communication: Listening, Nonverbal, and Written

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3 Keys to Communication: Listening, Nonverbal, and Written

“Communication works for those who work at it.”

—John Powell

Communication is part of the foundation to any successful working relationship. Effective communication includes clarity, conciseness, and coherence between all parties. However, that clarity, conciseness, and coherence doesn’t always come naturally in a relationship.

To develop effective communication skills, you must focus on what else goes into the message outside of the words used. Here are the three keys to communication:

1. Listening

Listening is an active, not a passive, skill. Active listening establishes rapport and sets the foundation for solid interpersonal relationships. Active listening requires the listener’s attention, not only to the words but also the feelings and body movements of the sender.

When it comes to listening, it is important to assure the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation. There are five clarification techniques: summarize, paraphrase, organize, open-ended questions, and specific example.

  • Summarize: the listener condenses the fact or feeling message that is sent into several major thoughts.
  • Paraphrase: the listener restates the exact meaning of the speaker’s message in different words.
  • Organize: the listener restructures the information that was sent into categories, main ideas, or thoughts and feelings.
  • Open-ended Questions: the listener requests more information from the speaker.
  • Specific Example: the listener requests that a specific example or illustration be given.

2. Nonverbal

Nonverbal communication refers to the messages people send without talking. The message delivered is through body movements, posture, tone, use of space, and objects. The nonverbal message often carries a greater impact than the verbal or spoken word.

In fact, research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian found that only 7% of communication is verbal while 93% is nonverbal (55% body language; 38% tone of voice).

In order to communicate effectively, you must be aware of the various elements that go into your nonverbal communication. Examples of nonverbal communication elements include, head nods, eye contact, and facial expressions.

3. Written

Having well-developed written communications skills is extremely important to business communication, especially in our now digital world filled with emails and text messages.

Janis Fisher Chan, author of E-mail: A Write it Well Guide—How to Write and Manage E-mail in the Workplace, told Broker Magazine, “the words we write are very real representations of our companies and ourselves. We must be sure that our e-mail messages are sending the right messages about us.”

Whether you are constructing an e-mail, texting a vendor for an update, or sending materials to a client, it is important to ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation. Written communication does not have the nonverbal messaging present to clarify or strengthen the message. Be sure that the words you choose are appropriately used by their definition.

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