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Cheat Sheet

Communication Skills For Dummies (UK Edition)

If you want to be an outstanding communicator, and engage with others in a way that leads to achieving shared goals in a positive and respectful way, having an insight to communication skills is key. This Cheat Sheet gives you the absolute essentials.

Communicating with Clarity

To communicate in a way that conveys your meaning and demonstrates respect for your listeners, make sure to remind yourself that you have the right to speak and to be heard. Avoid apologies and banish blame. To communicate with clarity, be sure to:

  • Know your point. Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve as a result of your communication.

  • Limit yourself to three main points. Any more than that and you confuse your listener. Any fewer, and your message lacks substance.

  • Focus on the individual’s behaviour and avoid making slanderous remarks when offering feedback. The purpose of offering clear feedback is to improve performance, not to make an enemy by decimating the individual’s confidence.

Demonstrating Confidence When You Speak

Research consistently proves that you don’t have to feel confident in order to act as if you are, and the more you act ‘as if’ the more confident you feel. Here’s how you do it:

  • Claim your space. Remind yourself that you have the right to be heard.

  • Move with purpose. Let go of fidgeting and meaningless movements. Steer clear of touching your face, playing with your hair, picking at your finger nails, or adjusting your clothing.

  • Look others in the eye when you speak, open your chest to fill your space and hold your head still.

  • Speak as if you mean what you’re saying. Grab hold of your consonants to project authority, pronounce your vowels clearly to carry the musicality of your message, and use language your listener can understand without having to refer to a dictionary.

  • Model the behavior of people who demonstrate confidence. By adjusting your stance, vocal tone and word of choice to match the people who display confidence, you come across as confident yourself.

Validating Your Credibility during a Presentation

Speaking in front of an audience can be daunting, but the good news is that you can prepare for it, so that you come across as confident and credible. Here are a few points to bear in mind when preparing that all important speech or presentation:

  • Confirm your knowledge of the topic. Let your listeners know that you’re an authority. You could have another specialist or expert endorse your expertise and confirm that you know what you’re talking about.

  • Prepare your comments in advance so you come across as knowledgeable and well informed.

  • Plan for surprises and practise your responses. The more information, experience and expertise you have, the better able you are to show you’re on top of the subject.

Demonstrating Respect and Establishing Rapport with Your Communication

To communicate effectively with others, you must respect them as individuals and want to establish understanding between yourselves. Although you don’t have to agree with their beliefs, and you don’t have to accept what they say as true, you do have to accept their right to their thoughts, feelings and values.

One way of establishing rapport with others is to match their gestures and energy patterns. This means that your gestures become similar to the other person’s, but not to the point that you produce exact copies of their movements and expressions.

Observe how the other person breathes and moves and adapt your pattern to match theirs. For example, if the other person moves quickly and you tend to move more slowly, you’re movements are at odds and can negatively affect your engagement. Change your pattern to match the other person’s by speeding up or slowing down until you both are comfortable with one another.

Once you’ve established trust between yourselves, you can revert to your preferred pattern and revel in your delight as the other person follows along with you.

Embracing Differences between Yourself and Others for Clear Communication

Instead of seeing different ways of communicating as a barrier, view them as a bridge. When you show that you’re receptive to other people’s way of communicating, that you value their point of view, and that you recognise that differences can lead to deeper levels of understanding, you’re onto a winner.

People feel that you care about them and what’s important to them when you leave judgement and criticism at the door. When you focus not only on what they’re saying and how they’re delivering their message, but on what they’re not saying as well – the underlying message behind the words – you show that you’re interested in them enough to take the time and make the effort to appreciate their viewpoint.

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