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Simple Ways to Develop Good Communication Skills

By | November 6, 2013
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Think about the amount of time spent in communicating with people on a daily basis. For instance you write emails, facilitate meetings, participate in conference calls, create reports, devise presentations, debate with your colleagues… the list goes on. This and a number of other tasks that are solely dependent on communicating effectively can affect productivity. For example how often have you made a mistake in the task allotted, all because of miss communication?  Well this can be prevented by simply asking the question, “How can we boost productivity?” It’s fairly simple, all one needs to do is follow these simple ways to develop good communication skills and automatically the errors will reduce.

Developing effective communication skillsErrors usually arise because of ineffective communication on the part of communicator and the receivers end. This is where the 9 C’s will definitely assist anyone in effective communication, thus boosting productivity and improving ones relationships with colleagues and employers alike. Since both productivity and relationships with colleagues are both dependent on communication alone; be it verbal or non verbal cues, one need to be able to communicate effectively, because communication is the essence of productivity, resulting in a business doing well.

So lets find out what the 9 Cs are and how can they aid individuals, employers and business’ alike? According to the 9 Cs, communication needs to be – Clear, Concise, Concrete, Correct, Coherent, Complete, Courteous, Credible and Creative (Mind Tools). To give you a clear understanding of these concepts, examples have been provided as and when applicable, within these pointers itself.  

1. Clear

When writing or speaking to someone you need to be clear about your message or goal, i.e. what is your purpose in communicating with this person? Remember that if you are not sure about these aspects at your end neither will your audience be sure. Some useful tips to be clear are:

  • Try to minimize the number of ideas in each sentence
  • Make sure that it’s easy for your reader to understand what you  mean
  • People shouldn’t have to “read between the lines” and make assumptions on their own to understand what you’re trying to say

Here are examples for the same:

Bad example

Hi John,

I wanted to write you a quick note about Daniel, who’s working in your department. He’s a great asset, and I’d like to talk to you more about him when you have time.

Best,

Skip

What is this email about? Well, we’re not sure. First, if there are multiple Daniels in John’s department, John won’t know who Skip is talking about.

Next, what is Daniel doing, specifically, that’s so great? We don’t know that either. It’s so vague that John will definitely have to write back for more information.

Last, what is the purpose of this email? Does Skip simply want to have an idle chat about Daniel, or is there some more specific goal here? There’s no sense of purpose to this message, so it’s a bit confusing.

Good Example

Hi John,

I wanted to write you a quick note about Daniel Kedar, who’s working in your department. In recent weeks, he’s helped the IT department through several pressing deadlines on his own time.

We’ve got a tough upgrade project due to run over the next three months, and his knowledge and skills would prove invaluable. Could we please have his help with this work?

I’d appreciate speaking with you about this. When is it best to call you to discuss this further?

Best wishes,

Skip

This second message is much clearer, because the reader has the information he needs to take action (Mind Tools).

2. Concise

It is important for you to be concise in your communication. By being concise it enables you to stick to the point and keep it brief. Your audience doesn’t want to read six sentences when you could communicate your message in three.  Some useful tips are:

  • Check if there are any adjectives or “filler words” that you can delete?
  • You can eliminate words like “for instance,” “you see,” “definitely,” “kind of,” “literally,” “basically,” or “I mean.”
  • Are there any unnecessary sentences?
  • Have you repeated the point several times, in different ways?

To give you a clear picture here are a few examples:

Bad Example

Hi Matt,

I wanted to touch base with you about the email marketing campaign we kind of sketched out last Thursday. I really think that our target market is definitely going to want to see the company’s philanthropic efforts. I think that could make a big impact, and it would stay in their minds longer than a sales pitch.

For instance, if we talk about the company’s efforts to become sustainable, as well as the charity work we’re doing in local schools, then the people that we want to attract are going to remember our message longer. The impact will just be greater.

What do you think?

Jessica

This email is too long! There’s repetition, and there’s plenty of “filler” taking up space.

Good Example

Watch what happens when we’re concise and take out the filler words:

Hi Matt,

I wanted to quickly discuss the email marketing campaign that we analyzed last Thursday. Our target market will want to know about the company’s philanthropic efforts, especially our goals to become sustainable and help local schools.

This would make a far greater impact, and it would stay in their minds longer than a traditional sales pitch.

What do you think?

Jessica

3. Concrete

Messages should be concrete because you audience have a clear picture about what you’re telling them. There are details (but not too many!) and vivid facts and there’s a focus. All these aspects make your message solid leaving no room for discrepancies.

Given below are some examples that will make the concept easier to understand:

Bad Example

Consider this advertising copy:

The Lunchbox Wizard will save you time every day.

A statement like this probably won’t sell many of these products. There’s no passion, no vivid detail, nothing that creates emotion, and nothing that tells people in the audience why they should care. This message isn’t concrete enough to make a difference.

Good Example

How much time do you spend every day packing your kids’ lunches? No more! Just take a complete Lunchbox Wizard from your refrigerator each day to give your kids a healthy lunch AND have more time to play or read with them!

This copy is better because there are vivid images. The audience can picture spending quality time with their kids – and which parent would argue with that? And mentioning that the product is stored in the refrigerator explains how the idea is practical. The message has come alive through these details (Mind Tools).

4. Correct

When you communicate it needs to be correct. So it is important to speak using the correct words along with their meanings and in the right context.  Or else it will portray a totally different meaning. You also need to keep in mind if the words used fits your audience. And correct communication is also error-free communication.

  • When communicating ask yourself:
  • Do the technical terms you use fit your audience’s level of education or knowledge?
  • Have you checked your writing for grammatical errors?
  • Remember, spell checkers won’t catch everything.
  • Are all names and titles spelled correctly?
  • If unsure it is wise to look it up in a dictionary or a thesaurus as the case may be

Bad Example

Hi Daniel,

Thanks so much for meeting me at lunch today! I enjoyed our conservation, and I’m looking forward to moving ahead on our project. I’m sure that the two-weak deadline won’t be an issue.

Thanks again, and I’ll speak to you soon!

Best,

Jack Miller

If you read that example fast, then you might not have caught any errors. But on closer inspection, you’ll find two. Can you see them?

The first error is that the writer accidentally typed conservation instead of conversation. This common error can happen when you’re typing too fast. The other error is using weak instead of week.

Again, spell checkers won’t catch word errors like this, which is why it’s so important to proofread everything (Mind Tools)!

5. Coherent

When your communication is coherent, it’s logical. All the points are connected and relevant to the main topic, the tone and flow of the text is therefore consistent.

 Here are examples to give you clarity:

Bad Example

Traci,

I wanted to write you a quick note about the report you finished last week. I gave it to Emiley to proof, and she wanted to make sure you knew about the department meeting we’re having this Friday. We’ll be creating an outline for the new employee handbook.

Thanks,

Michelle

As you can see, this email doesn’t communicate its point very well. Where is Michelle’s feedback on Traci’s report? She started to mention it, but then she changed the topic to Friday’s meeting.

Good Example

Hi Traci,

I wanted to write you a quick note about the report you finished last week. I gave it to Emiley to proof, and she informed me that there are a few changes that you’ll need to make. She’ll email you her detailed comments later this afternoon.

Thanks,

Michelle

Notice that in the good example, Michelle does not mention Friday’s meeting. This is because the meeting reminder should be an entirely separate email. This way, Traci can delete the report feedback email after she makes her changes, but save the email about the meeting as her reminder to attend. Each email has only one main topic.

6. Complete

In a complete message, the audience has everything they need to be informed and if applicable; they can then take action accordingly.

Some useful tips are listed below:

  • Does your message include a “call to action”, so that your audience clearly knows what you want them to do?
  • Have you included all relevant information – contact names, dates, times, locations, and so on?

Bad Example

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to send you all a reminder about the meeting we’re having tomorrow!

See you then,

Chris

This message is not complete, for obvious reasons. What meeting? When is it? Where? Chris has left his team without the necessary information.

Good Example

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to remind you about tomorrow’s meeting on the new telecommuting policies. The meeting will be at 10:00 a.m. in the second-level conference room. Please let me know if you can’t attend.

See you then,

Chris

7. Courteous

Courteous communication is friendly, open, and honest. There are no hidden insults or passive-aggressive tones. When your communication is courteous, you tend to keep your reader’s viewpoint in mind and it shows that you are empathetic to their needs.

 Below is an example to help you be clear about this aspect of communication:

 

Bad Example

Jeff,

I wanted to let you know that I don’t appreciate how your team always monopolizes the discussion at our weekly meetings. I have a lot of projects, and I really need time to get my team’s progress discussed as well. So far, thanks to your department, I haven’t been able to do that. Can you make sure they make time for me and my team next week?

Thanks,

Phil

Well, that’s hardly courteous! Messages like this can potentially start office wide fights. And this email does nothing but create bad feelings, and lower productivity and morale. A little bit of courtesy, even in difficult situations, can go a long way.

Good Example

Hi Jeff,

I wanted to write you a quick note to ask a favor. During our weekly meetings, your team does an excellent job of highlighting their progress. But this uses some of the time available for my team to highlight theirs. I’d really appreciate it if you could give my team a little extra time each week to fully cover their progress reports.

Thanks so much, and please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you!

Best,

Phil

What a difference! This email is courteous and friendly, and it has little chance of spreading bad feelings around the office (Mind Tools).

8. Credible

Does your message improve or highlight your credibility? This is especially important when communicating with an audience that doesn’t know much about you. Besides the more credibility we display to our clients, our boss, and our colleagues, the better will be our productivity thus the company as well as its employees will benefit (Mind Tools).

9. Creative

Does your message communicate creatively? Creative communication helps keep your audience engaged.

Since all of us communicate with people every day. It becomes important to not just communicate but to communicate effectively (Mind Tools).

You can use or practice the 9 Cs of Communication as a “checklist” for all of your communication. Be aware of both your verbal and nonverbal cues, try not to use excessive gestures as this communicates the message that you are neither confident nor clear about your views and are likely to be confused about your thoughts. By doing all of this, you’ll stay clear, concise, concrete, correct, coherent, complete, courteous, credible and creative (Mind Tools). For more information you can always visit www.careerfutura.com.

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8 thoughts on “Simple Ways to Develop Good Communication Skills

    1. Esther Silas Post author

      Hi Kavita,
      Having good communication skills will open more doors and assist you in your career choice. Theses are skills that are absolutely essential, especially for aspiring professionals.

      Reply
    1. Esther Silas Post author

      Hi Dev,
      If you do what has been mentioned, it will surely help you. If you still have any further queries you can just post them and I will get back to you.

      Reply
    1. Esther Silas Post author

      Hi Sunidhi,
      As a student you can begin with the presentations that you give, practice with friends, start reading and even try to be proactive.

      Reply
  1. Sushil Parmar

    I am not very fond of reading so is there no other way to improve my communication skills?

    Reply
    1. Esther Silas Post author

      Hi Sushil,
      You can start by reading English newspapers regularly, or converse with your peers, participate in competitions etc. are some ways you can improve your communication skills. You can also visit http://blog.careerfutura.com/pros-and-cons-of-competitions-in-school/, http://blog.careerfutura.com/how-to-improve-your-english/, http://blog.careerfutura.com/improve-english-vocabulary/ and http://blog.careerfutura.com/benefits-of-reading-books/.

      Reply

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