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Creating an open, clear communication stream with co-workers, parents and children can help everyone feel understood and valued.
1. Pay Attention to the Speaker’s Non-Verbal Communication
Successful listening includes noticing the unspoken information and feelings that are being communicated by another person. Face the speaker and make eye contact. Notice the speaker’s nonverbal signals. These include facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, and even muscle tension and breathing.
2. Reflect Back On What the Other Person is Saying
Let the person know you are trying to understand them by clarifying their message. Repeat, in your own words, trying not to add your own opinion or information. You might say, “It sounds like you...,” or “If I’m following you, you are saying...”
3. Ask Questions that Increase Communication
Ask for help when you become lost in a conversation. Test your interpretation of what is being said. Ask questions that begin with “what,” “how,” “please explain” or “describe.” For example, “How will that influence parents to pay on time?” or “Describe how this policy will affect your decision?”
4. Organize Your Communication Beforehand
Clarify ideas in your mind and write them down before having a conversation. Limit yourself to three main points and keep the communication focused on these. Think about your purpose: Is it to inform others, obtain information, or to initiate action? Thank your listener, regardless of the outcome of your conversation.
5. Choose the Right Time to Communicate
Timing is important when we are trying to send a message or have a conversation. When people are busy, tired, hungry, preoccupied or experiencing intense emotions, they are less likely to engage with us. Think about postponing until there is a time that works for both parties.