There are countless reasons why effective, high-quality communication can be difficult. We are all individuals, with different ways of seeing the world, different biases and goals and vulnerabilities. Too often we judge what we see and hear based on our own experiences and predispositions. We must remember, however, that effective communication begins with mutual respect, a give-and-take exercise that ideally should conclude with a better understanding than was present at the beginning.
The following impediments are worthy of consideration when trying to improve and increase one’s communication skills:
1. Lack of concentration – What are you trying to communicate? Are you rambling? Does it start in one direction and go in another? Stay on your message so your heading becomes a straight line.
2. Lack of clarity – Are you using the correct words, expressions or examples to paint the mental picture? Do you see in the faces of your audience that they understand it, that they are all on the same page? It matters little how elegant your prose is or how funny your jokes are if the audience connection isn’t there.
3. Lack of specificity – It’s all about precision and goes a step beyond focus and clarity. So, Lieutenant, you want us to take the hill. What hill? And with how many men? And within what period? Remember: who, what, where, when, why and how.
Four. Lack of enthusiasm – Have you ever heard a speaker say, “We’re excited,” with as much conviction as if they were lecturing on the elimination of kitty litter? You don’t have to become Richard Simmons advocating for the benefits of exercise, but enthusiasm helps raise energy levels between a speaker and an audience.
5. Lack of empathy – If you are a boss who addresses your employees, are you measuring your comments by how those employees view your words, body language, and expression? If you are a doctor delivering bad news to a sick patient, are you looking at the news from the patient’s perspective? If not, you definitely should.
6. Lack of trust – Do you have a general opening about yourself? Do you maintain constant eye contact? Is your posture upright and confident? If you don’t believe what you’re saying, rest assured that your audience will notice. The confidence will be gone. The message will be lost.
7. Lack of reinforcement – Remember the old adage: Tell them what you are going to say to them; Tell them; tell them what you just told them. Give them the main takeout early, then reinforce.
8. Inappropriate Language – Choose your words carefully. Tailor your words to your audience. Not too many, not too few. And beware of profanity and other inappropriate language. It can be hugely distracting from your message to the point where you turn off a listener.
9. Condescension – Do you enjoy being taught by a pompous jerk? So don’t become one yourself.
10. Showing anger – Keep your anger and your grievance under control. There may be rare occasions when a strategic display of anger is effective, but in general it may reflect a lack of self-control or respect for the opinions of others.
Remember, there are several techniques to improve one’s communication skills, but be aware of the above as possible communication impediments.
Good luck and good communication.