Tips for Positive Communication

by Ian McKenzie on June 26, 2013

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  1. Own your messages. Use personal pronouns like “I” and “my.” For example, “I would like to discuss the options in detail” instead of “Maybe there should be some discussion about the options.”
  2. Make your messages clear, complete and specific. Plan what you want to say before you say it. That way, you can avoid saying something you might regret later. Be straightforward in what you say. Talking around a topic can cause confusion and uncertainty. This also can apply to giving instructions.
  3. Ask questions — what? when? how? — to make sure you understand what’s required. Don’t assume you know what the speaker means. Paraphrasing (expressing what was said using different words) helps to confirm that you understand what was said.
  4. Be genuinely interested in discussions and give listeners or speakers your full attention. Don’t interrupt. Allow the person who’s speaking to finish before you respond. This courtesy will always be viewed positively.
  5. When giving feedback, be tactful, firm, patient and sensitive. Focus on the behaviour or the specific task rather than on the person. For example, “There’s a gap between the window frame and the drywall” instead of “You did a lousy job framing that window.” Point out what worked well. Suggest alternatives. Give feedback in private.
  6. Invite feedback about your own work. Be open to it. Regard it as an opportunity to improve the quality of your work and not as a personal attack.
  7. Believe in yourself. Value what you have to say. Your insights could benefit others.

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