15 tips to be a better communicator

Whether you are planning an intervention or simply trying to strengthen your relationship with your colleagues, good communication skills can help you succeed. But good communication skills don't often come naturally-they need to be learned, practiced, and implemented. The following tips can help you become a better communicator:

  • Practice active listening characterized by the principle of listening to understand
  • Use appropriate eye contact, maintain an open facial expression, display a neutral posture, and use an appropriate tone of voice
  • Observe the fundamental elements of a message in which nonverbal behaviors account for 55% of the message, tone of voice accounts 38%, and the actual words used account for 7%
  • Acknowledge that periods of silence in conversation are not only acceptable, but also welcomed as you learn the power of the pregnant pause in conversation
  • Provide feedback by paraphrasing what you think you heard to check for understanding
  • Understand that you can listen faster than he or she can talk, so don't become distracted, but rather use the difference to your advantage by anticipating what might be said, thinking about what has been said, and evaluating developments as they occur
  • Ask good questions using words that are factual rather than emotional
  • Know when to stop
  • Be cognizant of different primary behavioral style preferences in order to anticipate and manage basic fears as well as probable reactions when under stress
  • Practice emotional intelligence, in which worries, fears, and problems are pushed aside to allow active listening, anger control, and distraction minimization so that you share responsibility for the communication
  • Understand how specific tools such as structured dialog and crucial conversations can help improve physician-hospital communications
  • Develop finely honed writing skills to create both executive white papers and heartfelt memorandums and letters
  • Master the skills and techniques of effective public speaking for both small and large group dialogs and presentations
  • Understand the benefits and the limitations of different communications media: audioconferences, videoconferences, electronic messaging, and so forth
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