How Effectively Do You Communicate? 4 Tips

effective telephone communicationHow effectively do you communicate with others?  People skills can be tough!  Some people seem to have been “born with the knack”, while others constantly struggle with the ability to communicate well with others.  They want to communicate effectively, to get what they want out of life, to be more assertive, but the natural abilities continue to elude them.

Communicate {kuh-myoo-ni-keyt] verb – to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively.

Most of my day, every day, includes providing technical support for our software and involves communication with others; via phone or email.  Following are some tips on effective communication and the challenges of how to deal with others.

Be Clear:

If you want or need something, state it clearly and simply.  Nobody’s a mind reader, so don’t expect them to “know” what’s wrong – they can’t SEE through the phone and see what you are seeing.   Be sure to provide the person that you want help from with enough information that they can actually help you; saying that it “doesn’t work’ or “isn’t right” seldom gets problems resolved quickly or efficiently.  So much time is wasted on over complicating things, on circling the subject, and on ignoring a subject when in reality all you need to do is talk to the person.  Let them know WHO you are what problem you are having……………so that you can achieve a positive outcome.

Examples of two types of technical support calls:

{Caller One} – Hi this is [name] with [company name] and I’m having a problem with [fill in the blank], can someone help me?

Immediately, you know who are you speaking with, what company they are with, and, in my case at least which program of ours they are having a problem with.  Immediately, the conversation is off to a good start.

{Caller Two} – THIS isn’t right and I need help.

Immediately, you are caught off guard because as the person answering the phone; you have no idea WHO you are talking to or WHAT “THIS” is!  Immediately the conversation is off to a rocky start.

Speak Up:

This is one of the most common problems in relationships—both personal and business; and is extremely difficult if the only means of communication that you have with the other person is through the phone or via email.   One of you will have to firmly take the bull by the horns and steer the conversation in the right direction – usually that “someone” will be the person receiving the call or the email.

With co-workers, however, if one or both parties don’t speak up – things will  slowly but surely erode.  There could be a number of reasons for this, perhaps they’re afraid of confrontation, of making waves, of being mean. There’s nothing wrong with speaking your mind!  You don’t want to be rude or aggressive, but being firm and honest should be second nature.  If you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing or not sure how to handle it, think about the situation that’s bothering you and rehearse in your mind what you’d like to say to the other person. Imagine yourself being confident and firm, yet kind and compassionate.

Of course, things may not go along as smoothly as they did when you rehearsed it in your mind, or maybe it will go even better.  The key here is preparing yourself.

Walk Away:

Yes, sometimes you just need to walk away, especially if the situation gets blown out of proportion.  If tempers start to flare, if nothing is working, you may need time to cool off and clear your mind.  Let the person know you aren’t shutting them out, but that you’d like to discuss this further when you’ve both had a chance to calm down and think more clearly.  A good rule of thumb is waiting 24 hours.  It’s not always easy to do so, but this waiting period often brings about some amazing changes.  You may find the original problem no longer bothers you or you may come up with new and more effective ways of dealing with it.

Walking away isn’t an option when you are on the phone with someone and unfortunately phone conversations can get out of hand more quickly than face to face situations.  At best, all we can do is to try to smooth the ruffled feathers of the person calling in.

Have Patience:

Remember the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”?  The same can be said about solving a problem – it can’t happen in less than a minute!  Getting to the root of a problem usually requires having to ask questions and having those questions answered.

If there’s been a longstanding problem at work or you’ve been involved in a project  that is big and hasn’t been going smoothly;  don’t expect changes overnight.  It takes time to heal, to change, to reach the finish line.   As long as you see gradual improvement over time, you know you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

Dealing with people effectively is a skill anyone can learn.  It takes time, trial and error, determination and patience, but you’ll find that your relationships flourish because of it.  By practicing these tips and putting them into action each day of your life, you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting what you want out of life.

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