How effective is your communication? In my experience, taking time out to reflect on what worked well and what I could improve for on for next time has helped me continue to refine my communication skills. Learning from others has also been a key enabler for me. And so last year I set up a Facebook Group to support and learn within a community how we could continue to be more effective in our communication skills.

During the month of February, I invited members in my Facebook Group to think of a word each day for each letter of the alphabet that would help to communicate more effectively. It has been both fun and a challenge as it really made us think.

I share with you here a summary of my posts, the A-Z: 26 ways to improve your communication skills.

Appreciation – show you appreciate those you interact with. Let them know a quality that you witness or experience in them. Research from the Gottman Institute in the US, shows us we experience deeper long lasting relationships on a ratio of 5:1 with individuals whom we have a positive interaction with to those we have a negative or critical relationship with.

Be yourself, everyone else is taken.  Wise words from Oscar Wilde. When you are genuine and honest, people sense your integrity and respond by trusting you. Your relationships then become rich and rewarding. People feel safe around you and will be open to creating a connection and fostering positive communication.

Compassion – It is only when you walk in another’s shoes that you truly understand their motivations and challenges. Compassion leads to better relationships and enables you to inspire others. When you act in this way you are not being soft, rather fully conscious, considerate and wise.

Diversity – celebrate both the diversity of ideas during your exchange when communicating and the diverse group identities to which we all belong. Encouraging diversity will lead to empowering rather than oppressing the under-represented individuals in your organization.

Ease – be at ease, free from the internal rush in your mind when communicating with another. Give your attention, a palpable respect for what the other person is saying and thinking and be curious where they are going next with their thinking, rather than attending to any demands in your mind.

Fair –  Engage your rational, logical mind as well as your emotional mind. Exercise fairness in your interactions with others and know you will be respected and trusted by all when you are balanced and in equilibrium.

Growth – choose a mindset of growth, recognizing that we all have the capability to grow and learn from our mistakes and failures. Engage in courageous conversations with others and take them to the edge of their thinking so they can grow and achieve more than they thought possible. Take your own mindset self-assessment here.

Honesty – Be true to yourself and you will be powerful in a natural and effortless way. Others will sense your level of honesty and principle and respond accordingly. Raise your consciousness and express what is true for you.

Interruption! Don’t interrupt others. When you do, they receive it like an assault on the brain. It shuts down momentarily and the other person will lose their train of thought. Resist the urge to interrupt and allow the other person to complete their thought.

Jive – Communicating effectively is like a dance – the Jive. Knowing when to take your turn to lead the conversation and knowing when to follow.

Kind – A good natured and kindly disposition gives those around you a sense of well-being. And in return this tolerant and generous attitude reaps a bountiful harvest for that which you give with love is returned to you multiplied. Remember that kindness is like an oil that soothes troubled waters. With your kindness you can transform others and situations easing their hearts and souls.

Listen – one of the greatest gifts we can give another human being.  Take a moment to enjoy this video from Nancy Kline, best-selling author, pioneer of the Thinking Environment and most wonderful teacher.

Make people feel they Matter – in today’s increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, people want to feel valued and that they matter. Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller has pioneered an approach to leadership and communication that creates exceptional morale, loyalty, creativity and business performance. In his organization, everyone matters, just like a family. You can read how he has achieved this in his transformational story here.

Nuture – Effective communication in my experience benefits from nurturing our relationships. Taking into account some of the previous words we have seen along the way, helps to nurture a positive relationship e.g. listening, not interrupting, being kind, inclusive, being joyful, giving our attention and sharing our insights.

Offer your opinion only when it is asked for.  You see when you offer your opinion when it is not asked for, it limits independent thinking in others. It does little for creating possibilities, rather it says ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ which reduces the capacity for effective communication.

Purpose – be clear on your purpose for communication. What outcome do you want to achieve from your exchange with others. How do you want them to feel? What do you what them think about? What do you want them to do?

Question – ask questions to provoke another’s thinking. Ask questions to understand their perspective and what they want to achieve. Ask questions that will challenge the status quo and raise the bar. Ask questions that will address the situation at hand.

Relate – be relatable to your audience, your team, the person you are communicating with. Listen to understand them and relate to their motivations and challenges so they feel heard and that they matter. Share stories that connect with your audience and relate to what is going on for them.

Silence – Be still and breathe deeply and rhythmically. Listen intently to the silence wherein all the answers can be found.

Trust – Develop a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. Find out from others what it will take for them to trust you. Stick to your word and deliver on your promises. Enjoy this short video from two performers of Cirque de Soleil on how they demonstrate exquisite trust.

Understand others before being understood, in the words of Stephen Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. When we listen to understand others first, it helps to create a connection and understand fully what is important to them. With this information, we can be much more effective in communicating what is required in the situation.

Voice at the Table – my good friends at Voice at the Table are an extraordinary group of people helping others to unleash their potential. In communicating effectively, it is important that your voice is heard.  Don’t be shy, create the opportunity for others to hear you and choose to be confident so you can have your voice heard.

Win:Win. In the wise words of Stephen Covey once more, to be most effective in your communication, your will want to seek a win:win where both sides get something from the interaction. Others will leave feeling positive and you will feel not only have you given something, you have also received.

Xerography – in others words, photocopying. So we may improve our communication by ensuring everyone has the relevant material to read and we may need to copy it!

YOU are a most resourceful human being. Know that and your communication and leadership will become more effective.

Zoom – a great communication tool! You can communicate around the world and record your conversations, meetings or presentations through this awesome technology.  Sign up now if you haven’t already – it is free.

If you have any more tips that serve to help us communicate more effectively please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.

And if you want to develop further, let’s have a conversation to see how I might help you become even more effective in your communication. You can contact me via the contacts page here on the website. I look forward to connecting and hearing from you.