Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 Communication Skills to Commit to Memory

I’m a huge proponent of communication. Strong communication skills come in handy in every aspect of life. The following is my list of must-know tips.

Maintain Eye Contact and/or Avoid Multitasking while on Phone

No brainer on this one. If someone is looking at you, you’re more likely to trust they’re listening to you. Also, it’s tempting to do dozens of things while talking on the phone (this coming from the woman who found a way to breastfeed, pluck my eyebrows, talk on the phone and flip through a magazine all at once), but one surefire way to listen effectively is to limit distracting activities.

Mirror or Repeat What You Heard

How validating it is when someone reiterates what you were trying to say. It shows they listened and they understood.

Ask Questions

This takes proving you’ve listened one step further. Once you throw a question out there, you’re communicating you’re intrigued. You want to know more. The conversation immediately opens up to involve more than your own interests.

Don’t Interrupt

I sometimes feel like a grade-schooler when I’m desperately trying to think of what I want to say in a conversation. At times my patience fails and I rush to get the words out before I forget them. It’s an obvious irritating habit, but one worth breaking. Interrupting is one of the best ways to demonstrate you don’t care to hear the other person out until they’re finished. It’s really a lack of respect.


If someone trusts you with confidential information or they open their heart up, it’s wise to remember what they’ve divulged. Commit certain things to memory. I know certain dates mean a lot to my mother so I record them in my calendar.

Watch Tone of Voice & Body Language

This is one of those sneaky ones. You may think you’re speaking calmly or that you’ve avoided the infamous eye roll, but this is a good one to keep in check. These are probably two of the quickest ways to slip up when it comes to communicating. A huff. Crossed arms. A whiny pitch can all sink a conversation within a matter of seconds.

Be Open-minded—Don’t Shoot Down Ideas

Sometimes it takes time for someone to figure out what they’re trying to say. Resist filling in the words for them. Also, allow people to express their feelings, as hard as they may be to hear. When brainstorming a solution, look for creative and unexpected thoughts. In the past you might have shot them down, but try to find value in all that’s expressed.

Learn How to Disagree Effectively

Steer clear of insults and harsh language. Constantly look for ways to uplift others in dialogue. This especially works during a confrontation or a disagreement. Believe most people have good intentions. Formulate your thoughts before you approach someone with anger. Pray about it. Be honest. Maintain respect and boundaries.

What communication skill(s) have you found invaluable?

*photo by flickr


  1. Listening and respecting others' thoughts is important.
    I'm one to interrupt too because I'm afraid I'll forget what I want to add. I'm very aware of it. Bad habit!

  2. Empathizing and consoling. Sometimes people just need to vent and someone to hear them. :O)

  3. Excellent post! I need to work on remembering. I try so hard to do those other things that sometimes I don't really absorb the whole of what someone is saying, only pieces.

  4. Oh, wow. I'm printing this out, Wendy. This answers some of my knotty questions of late.

    I love it when God sends me a hug and kiss via a friend's wise words. Thanks for being that friend today.


  5. Wendy, LOVE the repetition as validation idea. Had never thought of that.

    I will put it in practice...TODAY!!!
    THANK YOU!!!

  6. Great list:) I especially appreciate a person listening without interrupting, like my daughter would say, it drives me bananas!

  7. This is good. I had a conversation with someone this weekend and I could not get a word in edgewise. It was frustrating. Honest she never came up for air.

  8. Are you sure you weren't a Psych major? Great suggestions!

  9. These are very helpful suggestions. Thanks for the wise post.

    A skill I hope to improve: Refrain from giving unsolicited advice. Sometimes the speaker just wants a listening ear.

  10. Great list! My husband has this terrible habit of interrupting. He's trying to break it, but I think it would improve his communication skills drastically. My biggest problem is multi-tasking while I'm on the phone. My mom complains about that all the time. I guess I'll work on that.

  11. Great list! I'm one of those unload the dishwasher while on the phone gals. Bad!

  12. Great list! I always thought I was a pretty good communicator but I do need to remember that it is not all about me. Listening is one of the most important elements of communication.

    I heard James Dobson say that a conversation is like tossing a ball back and forth. One person asks a question or makes a comment and the other responds. But the key is to toss the ball their way with something that they can respond to with more than a one word answer. This takes some creativity with challenging personalities, but it can be done.

    Good topic:)

  13. I'm always cooking/cleaning/multitasking while on the phone... so that's a good piece of advice. Bet I'm not being a very good listener/employee when I do that.

  14. I love to repeat back to someone what I think they were saying. That always helps me to get it in my head.

    I think one thing people do too much of is speak. Sometimes it's better to just listen and absorb. Just because you have a similar story to tell, doesn't mean you should.

  15. Fantastic blog and excellent post! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Listen with the heart vs. the ears when the subject is a sensitive one. Great post.

  17. Hi Wendy -

    I'm one of those multi-taskers. I get tempted to write blog posts, visit sites, while holding a phone conversation. Lately, I've been getting off the Internet, so I can focus on the person.

    Susan :)

  18. Don't interupt, don't multi-task (ha!), and listen. (all hard for me)

  19. Yeah, don't interrupt. That is one I really always try to stick by. Great list. :)

  20. I have a major problem with remembering things that people say. My cousin, Em, gets so irritated with me for this. I'm really trying to work on it in all aspects of my life - not just conversations, but lectures for school as well. Or just in general, reading or hearing any kind of information that may seem important.


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