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4 Keys to Clearer Communication

If you want your communication to be successful, there are a few things you should consider.

Consider the Purpose

Before you jump into a conversation, consider the outcome you hope to gain from it. Too many times, we just start talking without specific goals for the conversation. At the end of the conversation, we walk off frustrated because we haven't received what we wanted from the encounter. To reduce frustration - on the part of both participants - plan what outcome you want before speaking. Then set up the outcome by announcing at the beginning of the conversation what you hope to accomplish. You'll be able to cut down on the amount of wasted time and gain respect from your colleagues for respecting their time as well. You'll obtain your desired results with a greater degree of frequency, too.

Consider the Place

In addition to thinking about your intent in talking with someone, also consider the place. Just because you both end up in a particular location at a particular point in time does not mean that that's the opportune time to have a particular conversation. Business conversations should take place at the business or at networking events specifically designed for such chats. Social occasions should be just that - a chance to relax and be social, to get to know folks better - not to finish conducting business left over from the office. Successful communication is more probable when both parties are focused on the business at hand, not distracted by events going on around them or the need to pay attention to some other activity.

Consider the Person

Think about the person with whom you'll be having the conversation. What is their communication style? Do they need to have discussion points in writing in advance to be able to be prepared? Do they need lots of detail? Are they the type of person who needs to schmooze before getting down to facts or are they the "cut to the chase" type who gets irritated at idle chatter? Do they need time to process information before making a decision or do they spontaneously okay something that sounds new and interesting? By thinking about that person's communication style, you can tailor your communication behavior to meet their needs, thereby ensuring a more successful outcome.

Consider Your Personality

What kind of person are you? Are you the fast-talking, lots of gestures, likes to hear themselves talk kind of person? Are you a totally goal-oriented, down to business kind of person? Do you like lots of details and organization and time to process information? Do you just want to get along with everyone, do a good job, and go home? Depending on who you are and your assessment of the person you are going to talk with, you may need to modify your behavior if you want to have the conversation end successfully. For example, if you're the "spontaneous, this sounds like fun, let's do it" type and you need to talk to the "lots of details, time to process information" type, you'll need to take the time to get organized, plan what you're going to say, and then slow down your speech and gestures. If you don't modify your behavior to match that of the other person, you run the risk of turning them off on your ideas because they're turned off by your style. Better to mirror them to get your ideas across and to get to know them better, and then relax into what's natural behavior for you.

Clear communication always starts with the end in view. Know your purpose, set the stage correctly for the time and place of the conversation, consider the other person's communication style needs, and know yourself. Thinking through these four keys will help ensure that your conversations are meaningful, relevant, and accomplish your goals.


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