Knowing the principles of effective communication is crucial for women in both personal and professional contexts.
It empowers us to connect with others, build lasting relationships, achieve our goals, and navigate conflicts smoothly.
However, there’s more to effective communication than just exchanging information; it involves using the right language, tone, and body language to convey our thoughts, ideas, and feelings clearly and authentically.
In this post, we’ll dive into the effective communication principles that are necessary to communicate effectively, as well as establishing what effective communication is not.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of how to communicate effectively in a way that aligns with your personality and resonates with others.
So, whether you’re navigating a difficult conversation with a loved one, interviewing for a job, or communicating with colleagues, these principles will help you communicate with greater confidence, clarity, and impact.
Are you ready?
Then let’s get into it!
16 Effective Communication Principles You Need to Know
What is effective communication?
Before we get into the major effective communication principles, it’s important to have an understanding of what effective communication really is.
Effective communication involves being able to exchange information, ideas, thoughts, and feelings in a manner that is easily understood by your intended audience.
It may be considered a ‘soft skill,’ but being a good communicator is essential for success in every area of life.
It is a two-way process that involves both the sender and receiver of the message, and includes skills such as active listening, empathy, the ability to adapt to different communication styles, and many more, which we’ll get into later in the article.
Successful communication also involves being aware of your own personal style of communication as well as that of your audience, enabling you to adjust your approach depending on who you’re speaking to.
Effective communication plays a vital role in establishing and maintaining relationships, accomplishing objectives, and resolving conflicts, whether that’s in your workplace relationships, romantic relationships, or familial relationships.
What is effective communication not?
Although we’ll be covering plenty of examples of what effective communication is in this article, it’s important to have an understanding of what effective communication is not.
Here are some examples of what effective communication is not:
- Verbal diarrhoea. Filling our sentences with fluff and rambling, without really adding value.
- Assuming the other person knows as much as you do. Bamboozling somebody with complex language and the assumption that they are coming from the same place you are.
- Listening to respond rather than listening to understand.
- Using language that is inappropriate for the situation e.g. language that is too informal.
- Being vague or ambiguous.
- Using nonverbal cues that conflict with what you’re saying.
- Making assumptions about how the other person is feeling or what their opinion is about something.
- Not being mindful of cultural differences.
- Speaking over the other person or interrupting them.
Benefits of effective communication
Chances are, if you’re Googling the principles of effective communication then you already know the benefits, but maybe you’re only here because an employer or partner has suggested you read up on communication skills, or maybe you know that being able to communicate well is a positive, but you’re not exactly sure why.
Here are some of the major benefits of effective communication:
- Improved relationships: Effective communication can help build and strengthen relationships by allowing people to better understand each other’s needs, feelings, and perspectives.
- Increased productivity: Effective communication can reduce misunderstandings, errors, and delays, which can lead to increased productivity in both personal and professional contexts.
- Greater success in achieving goals: When communication is clear, concise, and accurate, it can help you to achieve your goals more efficiently and effectively.
- Enhanced problem-solving: Effective communication can facilitate problem-solving by helping individuals to understand and address the underlying issues and work collaboratively to find solutions.
- Reduced conflicts: Effective communication can reduce conflicts by fostering mutual understanding and respect, leading to better outcomes for everyone.
- Increased self-awareness: Effective communication requires you to reflect on your communication style and adapt it to different situations and people, leading to greater self-awareness and personal growth.
- Improved mental health: Effective communication can reduce stress and anxiety!
Effective communication principles
In order for your communication to be effective, it’s essential to have a clear goal in mind.
This means knowing what you want to achieve from the conversation, and how you want to impact your audience.
Are you a thought leader or are you trying to inspire action?
Ask yourself ‘what do I want the other person to think/feel/do?’
Figuring out your ideal outcome and intentionally crafting your communication to facilitate that outcome will make your communication much more effective.
For example, if you want your communication to educate, you don’t want to simply inspire.
Likewise, if you want to motivate action, you may want to focus on eliciting an emotional response, whereas if you’re trying to persuade someone of something, gathering relevant facts and statistics might be a better route to take.
Last summer, I attended a keynote session on how to communicate effectively.
The girl giving the talk began by telling us a story that seemed to have nothing to do with what the session was supposed to be about.
However, rather than zoning out and writing off the talk completely, the whole audience leaned forward, invested in where the story was going and why it was relevant to the topic at hand.
The reason for this is that human beings are natural storytellers and listeners, and this is the case no matter where you’re from, or when you were born.
In telling us a story, the speaker had us hooked, and so we were more susceptible to receiving the message that she went on to convey (if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t remember it so clearly, would I?).
Our love for stories is part of who we are.
Think about it – children love bedtime stories and story books. It is something inherent within them.
Stories get us intrigued, invested, and emotional.
They make ideas more tangible, as well as helping to humanise you, the storyteller.
People are also more likely to remember stories, and if those stories invoke an emotion, our brain will process that information faster than our logical brain processes information.
Not only that, but people make decisions when they are emotional and justify them with logic later, so if your goal is to inspire somebody to sign up for your course or buy your product, you need to hit them right in the feels.
The type of story you tell depends on what you are trying to convey, but generally, telling stories about family, vulnerability, and your personal life can make you more relatable and likeable to your audience.
If you want to see storytelling in action, just watch a few TED talks and analyse how the speakers harness the power of storytelling in their presentations.
One of the main principles of effective communication is clarity.
Being able to communicate in a clear and coherent way means that the person you’re talking to understands exactly what you want to convey and nobody is left confused when the conversation ends.
Simply transferring the information isn’t effective communication. The message must be received in order for you to have communicated effectively.
Tips on communicating with clarity include:
- Planning out what you want to say before you say it. This can help you to avoid rambling and losing track of where you want to be.
- Avoid vagueness. Spell out exactly what you want to happen as a result of this conversation and be as specific as humanly possible.
- Try and relay your message in the simplest of terms.
- Avoid using technical or specialist language that could confuse people.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been sitting at a conference and found myself zoning out or checking the time while the speaker is talking.
This scenario isn’t good for anyone.
It isn’t good for the person trying to teach you something, and it isn’t good for the person who has paid a lot of money to be there who feels as though they aren’t getting any value.
To be a successful communicator, you have got to be concise.
Trust me – a 20 minute presentation packed full of information is infinitely better than a 60 minute meandering speech with a lot of fluff.
Being concise increases the likelihood of your audience remembering what you’re telling them, and prevents them from becoming disengaged.
With that said, the information should still be complete, delivering all the information that the listener needs.
Here are some tips for being brief without losing important information:
- Don’t add unnecessary detail. The details aren’t important.
- Write down what you want to say and go through it with a metaphorical (or literal!) red pen. Be ruthless and ‘trim the fat,’ as my English professor used to say.
- Focus on key points: Identify the most important points you need to communicate and structure your message around them.
- Use visual aids: Visual aids such as charts, graphs, and diagrams can help you communicate complex ideas quickly and effectively, allowing you to present large amounts of information in a condensed and easily digestible format.
5. Active listening
The vast majority of effective communication lies in the way you listen rather than the way you talk.
Hearing what somebody is saying doesn’t necessarily mean that you are listening to them, at least not in an active or engaged way.
Ask yourself whether you are really digesting what the person in front of you is saying, or whether you are just waiting for your turn to speak.
If it’s the latter, try and focus your efforts on being an engaged listener next time you’re talking to someone.
Be attentive and curious about the needs and views of the other person.
Be GENUINELY interested in what they have to say rather than sticking fiercely to your own script, and ensure that your goal is to truly understand their perspective.
Some tips for active listening include:
- Giving the speaker your full attention, both physically and mentally.
- Acknowledging the speaker with verbal or non-verbal cues, such as nodding or saying ‘mm-hmm’ to indicate you are engaged and listening.
- Asking questions to clarify or confirm what you have heard.
- Reflecting back what the speaker has said to ensure you have understood their perspective.
Active listening is important in all communication, but it can be especially useful if you are a manager who wants your staff to respect and listen to you.
It fosters understanding, trust, and clear communication between all parties involved.
6. Take responsibility
As communicators, it’s on us to make sure we’re getting our message across effectively.
Blaming other people for not paying attention or taking something the wrong way doesn’t do us any good.
We have to own the situation and work to overcome any roadblocks, whether that’s dealing with interruptions, condescending attitudes, or disinterest.
It’s all about reframing the info so that it resonates with our audience.
Bottom line: by taking charge of our communication and handling tough situations with care, we’ll be better communicators.
Tone refers to the way in which words are spoken, and it can have a powerful impact on how a message is received, and greatly influence the listener’s interpretation of the speaker’s intent.
This doesn’t just refer to a positive or negative tone either (a hostile tone might not win us many friends -shocker).
The level of formality you use can also greatly impact how effective your communication is.
Sometimes, having an informal tone is just what you need to inspire the action you want.
Gary Vee is a master of this.
His no BS, direct, informal tone has resulted in millions of people who will listen to anything he has to say (and buy anything he sells, by extension).
In other situations, a formal tone can help to position you as an authority and command respect.
This one is pretty obvious, but you will fail to communicate effectively if you don’t get the timing right.
Broach something too early, and you won’t create a sense of urgency.
Broach something too late and, well, you’re too late.
We see this every day in romantic relationships.
One partner is desperate to relay something, but the other partner is in the middle of making dinner, or preoccupied with a work call they have to make.
By timing our communications right, we are setting ourselves up for success.
9. Shake things up
People stop listening when things become too predictable.
Aim to engage Brodmann’s area 47 of the brain in your listener. This is the area related to the emotions and empathy towards the stories of others.
You can do this by purposefully keeping people on their toes. Begin with a story that seems unrelated to what you’re about to tell them. This will pique their interest and get them intrigued.
Confidence is something that massively impacts communication.
If you speak assertively and with confidence, people will believe that you are an authority and that what you’re saying is credible.
Imagine you’re asking your boss for a pay rise.
Speaking in a powerful, self-assured way is much more likely to result in the outcome you want rather than hesitating or sounding uncertain about why you deserve an increase in salary.
Essentially, try to always sound as if you know exactly what you’re talking about (even if you don’t!).
If you’re nervous or unsure that people aren’t going to listen to you, fake it till you make it and you’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand.
People want to feel truly seen and heard, and this is why empathy is a key component of effective communication.
Be GENUINELY compassionate towards whoever you’re speaking to, be sympathetic towards their ideas and desires, and if somebody says something that you deem to be offensive, seek to understand why they feel that way rather than going on the defence.
In today’s culture, we are quick to write someone off if they say something we don’t like, but in reality, compassion and understanding go a lot further.
Open communication is when people feel that they can openly express their thoughts and ideas to one another.
Of course, this is important in all walks of life, but we will use the workplace as an example here.
Being open with your employees can enhance trust, facilitate team building, boost company morale, and give people the confidence to speak up if they aren’t happy with something.
When people feel like their feelings matter and that their opinions are valued, you will have a much happier team.
Friendliness is one of the main principles of Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, which I devoured this past summer while staying with my boyfriend’s family.
It sounds so simple (and it is!), but so many people still forget the importance of projecting a warm and friendly demeanour in ALL situations.
You may think that this isn’t as important if you are in a position of authority, but that is not the case at all!
All you have to do is watch a few police interrogations to see this in action.
Police officers always make sure to be inviting and open (at least in the beginning), starting the conversation with a smile and finding things in common with their suspect in order to build rapport and gain the trust of the person.
Remember – you always stand a better chance of getting what you want if the person you’re communicating with likes you.
Following on from the last point, effective communicators always remember that everyone needs respect in order for communications to be successful.
Even in an argument or situation where we have to deliver an unpleasant message, we should always do our best to show respect to the other person and be polite at all times.
Remember – one of the major defining qualities of outperforming leaders is humility.
Some tips for showing respect in communication include:
- Thanking them for taking the time to listen to what you have to say.
- Apologise if your information was relayed incorrectly.
- Embracing humility and positioning yourself on the same level as the person you’re talking to.
- Make the other person feel important. Praise what they have to say and thank them for any insight they give.
- Be sincere in all of this – nobody likes fake niceness.
15. Body language
It’s common knowledge that nonverbal communication says so much more than verbal communication.
Take the time to study the basics of body language and be conscious of how your own body language appears to others.
Some general tips are:
- Avoid folding your arms as this makes you appear closed off.
- Make sure your body and feet are pointing towards the other person. This shows that you are engaged with the conversation and that your mind isn’t elsewhere!
- Mimic the other person’s movements. If they take a sip of their drink, you should do the same. This is known as ‘mirroring’ and helps to build rapport.
- Smile and make sure to keep good eye contact.
- Nod along when the person is speaking.
- Lean forwards slightly to show that you are interested in what they are saying.
- Avoid fidgeting, scratching your face or playing with your hair. This will make you seem nervous or uncomfortable.
- Don’t jiggle your legs around. This also makes you seem nervous, and people may wonder if you’re being truthful.
In order to know whether your communication has been effective, you should emphasise the importance of giving and receiving feedback.
Ask how the other person found the conversation, and let them know that you are open to any questions or criticisms.
Not only does this let you know how well your message has been received, but it also builds a connection with the person, which is one of the fundamentals of being a good communicator!
The Principles of Effective Communication | Final Thoughts
So, there we have it – 16 principles of effective communication that will help you out in every area of life!
There was a lot to digest in this article, but the main things to remember are the following:
- Being polite, respectful, friendly, and an active listener go a LONG way in communicating successfully. Master these basic skills and you’ll be doing better than a good chunk of the population!
- Be authentic. Don’t feel the need to copy other people – you don’t have to present like Gary Vee in order to be a good communicator. Find your unique communication style.
- In order to communicate in a more genuine way, find your connection to the topic you’re talking about. Your passion and love for the topic will shine through.
Lastly, remember that effective communication principles are not acquired by chance.
They require conscious effort, but they are a key trait of successful people, whether that be in personal relationships or business.
It may seem daunting at first, but you can start by incorporating just 1 of 2 of these principles in your daily conversations, and watching how things improve!
That’s about it for today, but if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section and I will get back to you!
Until next time,