What Are Communication Techniques?
Communication is vital to thriving in any environment. Without communication, we simply exist on our own, entirely subject to our self-positioned distance from others.
Learning how to communicate clearly will allow you to find freedom and joy in life by inviting others into a conversation that has movement and clarity.
When you Communicate clearly, you create:
Communication is defined as “the act of conveying intended meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs and semiotic rules”.
In other words, communication is the process of taking intent and clearly translating that into understanding.
The Major Roadblock In Most Communication
Noise: the obstacles that interrupt the flow of communication
Intent: the message the communicator desires to convey
Understanding: full and accurate decoding of a communicators message
Communication is something that seems fairly simple. We’re just taking our ideas or thoughts and using different techniques to convey those to someone else.
But, communication is riddled with obstacles that are constantly tripping up the flow from one person to another.
For example, when someone says they’re fine, but you absolutely know they aren’t…
Or how the translation of the Pepsi slogan: ‘Come alive with the Pepsi Generation’ came out as: ‘Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead’ in Taiwan…. I think there was some miscommunication there.
Communication is plagued with noise: influences on our understanding of communication that shift the intent of our message.
When there is a mismatch between someone’s intent and another’s understanding, there is communication noise.
Communication noise has single-handedly been destroying relationships and influencers for years.
Instead of considering if the message is being understood correctly, noise makes us continually believe that the other person's intent is wrong.
We immediately assume that the problem is with the sender rather than with the way the sender communicated.
So many relationships and organizations would be saved if we all learned how to communicate with more clarity and care.
To become a more influential speaker, thoughtful parent, considerate caretaker, empathetic friend, successful worker, etc. start to leverage the power of clarity in your communication to cut through the noise that clouds your intent.
Communication Techniques Definition:
Communication techniques are simple ways you can begin to add clarity and care to the message you want to share with others.
These techniques and tools will help you effectively communicate your intent so others can understand your message in a way that is beneficial to everyone involved.
Why Have Influential and Effective Communication?
Clear communication is the only solution to eliminate discrepancies between intent and understanding.
Effective communication also helps us become more powerful influencers in every aspect of life.
Even if you’re not trying to merge companies or present a groundbreaking idea, clear communication is necessary to your success wherever you are.
Clear communication will help strengthen your relationship with your spouse. It will help you feel more joy in your friendships. And it just might help your kids get better at cleaning up… well, let’s not get too optimistic.
On the other side, a mismatch between intent and understanding will lead to communication and relationship failure.
poor communication results in:
Clear Communication Can Cause Massive Culture Change
Effective communication is not only vital to your own success, fulfillment, and productivity, but it also is vital to the growth and movement of organizations and cultures.
“Organizational change has widely become an area of focus in management literature. Despite the growing significance and research, many of the attempts to generate organizational change fail. Recent studies reveal that change efforts often suffer a dismal fate…. The empirical picture appeared indicated that organizational change and communication process are inextricably related processes” (Husain, 2013)
Organizational change is statistically difficult. Most initiatives fail.
But, studies have shown that clear and powerful communication help organizations enact change with more potency and success.
This doesn’t just apply to businesses. Any culture (e.g. your family, friends, work, political party, etc) can be changed effectively with proper communication.
Types Of Communication Techniques
Ready to get started having powerful conversations?
We’ve outlined powerful communication techniques that will help you overcome the noise that separates intent and understanding so you can begin changing the cultures you’re in.
1. Copy The Body Language Of The Person You're Talking To
“Social synchrony underlies the development of affiliative bonds and, thus, its detection in social contexts may be important for bond formation and, consequently, for adequate social functioning.” - (Atzil, Hendler & Feldman)
You’re strolling through the park and suddenly someone gets smacked in the face by a rogue frisbee. Immediately you wince at what just happened. And probably laugh.
This is because mirror neurons allow us to understand and feel what other people are experiencing.
They’re responsible for us shuddering when someone else gets hit or crying when we binge watch military homecoming videos.
And they’re responsible for social synchrony: when people unknowingly mirror body language as a way to show understanding, support, and respect.
For example, when a close friend leans in to tell us a vivid story, we unconsciously lean in too.
This is because mirror neurons allow us to understand the intentions and feelings behind physical actions. And social synchrony allows us to socialize and empathize deeper with these mirror neurons firing.
Scientists used to think that analytical thought helped us understand other people’s motives and actions, but research has found that we understand each other through emotions… namely the reading of body language and automatically understanding the emotions behind them.
Mirroring, or social synchrony, is quite common in stronger relationships. But, sometimes we struggle to develop a conversational rhythm with people that develops trust, empathy, respect, and rapport.
Without mirroring, studies have shown that relationships are not as sociable and lack trust.
The easiest way to create the social synchrony that demonstrates trust is to simply mirror the person you’re talking to in subtle ways.
If they lean in, lean in too.
If they sit back and have a low tone of voice, do the same.
You don’t have to copy every small movement or make it obvious what you’re doing.
The ultimate goal is to become aware of mutual body language, and then allow yourself to naturally follow the other person with your body language.
2. Learn To Read Simple Body Language
Body language is key in understanding how comfortable someone is in a conversation.
You don't have to be an expert, just look for signs of comfort and discomfort.
Some comfort signals look like: leaning in, moving closer, turning to face you, a tilted head, a head rested on a hand, a genuine smile, and physical touch.
Some discomfort signals look like: neck/face touching or rubbing, turning away, crossing arms, pointing feet away, and little eye contact.
“The trick is to start superficial, and then slowly go more intimate while keeping an eye on the other person’s comfort level. If you find that they start giving signs of discomfort, then you should ask less intimate questions. But if they are giving you consistent signals of comfort, then you can consider that a green light to continue digging deeper… this progression from superficial to intimate is something that happens over the course of a relationship, not over the course of one conversation” - Daniel Wendler
All you’re looking for is a general understanding of comfort and discomfort so that the person you’re talking to feels welcomed and understood the entire time.
For example, if you notice someone is rubbing their neck frequently, then maybe back off on the topic you're on.
Or, maybe they show calm body language, then, you can continue asking questions and sharing about yourself on the same level
3. Open-ended questions
The Two Types Of Questions
Closed-ended questions: questions that seek a fixed answer with little thought. “Did you finish the report today?”
Open-ended questions: questions that illicit deep thought and a formulated answer. “What’s been the biggest challenge for you today?”
Closed-ended questions don’t communicate the value that you have for someone else.
To become an effective communicator, start by asking open-ended questions.
Closed-ended questions make you assume you know part of the answer. They limit the possibilities and potential of someone else.
Open-ended questions allow you to explore the thoughts and ideas of someone else and will help you gain trust and rapport with others.
3. Stare To Invite Someone Else To Go Deeper
“A gazer may invite interaction by staring at another person on the other side of a room. The target’s studied return of the gaze is generally interpreted as acceptance of the invitation, while averting the eyes is a rejection of the request” - Adrian Furnham
Our eyes are subtle, yet powerful communicators of emotion.
And subconsciously, we’re able to understand conversational cues simply through the cadence of eye contact and direction.
Often, the first thing someone says isn’t the only answer. And it usually isn’t the best answer either.
To help someone continue to explore their ideas and thoughts, simply return a gentle and engaged gaze when someone stops talking.
This small glimpse of silence might seem uncomfortable for a moment, but you’ll be amazed at the detail and depth people will share after you open up conversational space for them to communicate well.
To foster relationships with depth, it's your responsibility to invite someone to speak about the things they truly want to talk about.
Silence goes a bit hand-in-hand with staring for depth as you’ll want to remain silent while you wait for the other person to continue speaking.
Talking seems like the only way to actively communicate, but silence is one of the most powerful communication tools.
Silence does two things:
1. It forces us to become active listeners
2. It encourages others to talk more
When someone is speaking, or telling a story, and pauses, it’s easy to want to share our side of the story, our thoughts, and ideas.
But, when we interject, we miss the critical depth someone else might be wanting to share.
Instead of interjecting, simply create an environment that people feel welcome to express their ideas in.
If someone is holding back in conversation, your silence encourages others to talk more.
Silence subtly prompts the other person to continuing speaking as your attention becomes an invitation for depth and meaning.
5. Scaling Questions
Scaling questions are perfect for effective communication in the workplace, but they also work in other communication environments well.
A scaling question simply helps you take an inventory of where someone is at so you can help them find the next step in their growth or productivity.
Here’s an example of how this might work with a writer who is struggling to communicate emotionally through her work:
You: “Ok, you want to communicate more emotion in your writing. If you were to rate how much emotion is in your writing on a scale from 1 to 10, where would your audience place you?”
Writer: “I think they’d give me a weak 4.”
You: “Why would they give you a 4?”
Writer: “Because they can’t connect with me. I don’t think I share as much on paper as is in my head.”
You: “So, if you’re at a 4 today, what would you need to do this week to bump that up to a 5?”
Writer: “To move up to a 5, I could start by adding at least one vulnerable story or anecdote into my writing.”
Scaling questions simply seek a starting point so you can help someone find the next step in their journey.
Far too often we try to fix people and their problems. Which is way too large of a task. People often have an idea of their best course of action, but they need you to gently and graciously direct them to it.
Effective communicators can use scaling questions to gauge where their audience is at and collaborate on a game-plan for sustained growth.
6. The AWE Question
“So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments” - Dale Carnegie
Influence is found in the question you ask rather than in the knowledge you speak.
Most people think that to be influential and wise, they must constantly speak at people and have a response to anything that arises.
However, people already know what’s best for them. You are not more of an expert on someone’s life than they are of their own.
So, your influence will be found in guiding questions that help people explore themselves and environment rather than what you say to them.
Any time I’ve had someone say I’m wise or thoughtful I have to laugh a little bit inside. Mainly because I only did 10% of the talking and most of that was just asking thoughtful questions.
So, how do you ask inspiring and profound questions? Three words…
“And What Else?”
The AWE question.
Start off with those three simple words and you’ll unleash a depth of conversation that will have true impact.
Questions that continue to generate depth will always revolve around “and what else”… and you can change the way the question looks.
It can look like:
“how did you manage to do that”
“how did you accomplish that”
“how did you know that’d help”
Tailor your questions to the context.
7. Be Vulnerable With Others And They’ll Be Vulnerable With You
“It’s true: if we live behind a mask we can impress but we can’t connect.” - Donald Miller
Effective communication can only happen when communicators choose to be vulnerable and safe in their messaging.
Vulnerability fosters trust and deep connection that will help improvement fulfillment and joy in whatever you do.
And creating an environment where people feel safe to be vulnerable will all you to become much more influential and begin caring for the actual needs people have instead of just their surface needs.
For the longest time I wanted to have vulnerable relationships with people. I was so confused why I didn’t have any super close relationships.
I realized that if I expect others to be vulnerable with me, I must first be vulnerable with them.
If you want to foster vulnerable and protected relationships, start by be open and transparent with the people you communicate with.
Openness and honesty will greatly contribute to lasting joy and satisfaction.
8. Show Empathy
Brené Brown is an expert on empathy.
Influential leaders and communicators must be empathetic.
If you choose to eliminate empathy from your communication, you’ll end up becoming a self-seeking and authoritarian leader.
Powerful communication can only take place when a communicator is distinctly in tune with the listener’s emotions and desires.
You're Only As Good As Your Communication
Influential communicators and influencers understand the power of effective communication and the techniques required to translate a message well.
Communication seems simple from a quick glance, but as you begin to examine communication more, you'll begin to see new layers and areas you can improve in to become drastically more influential.
If you're looking for deeper relationships, more fulfillment, and lasting influence, start using communication techniques that help you translate you message's intent in a clear and concise way.
Continually challenge yourself to improve and through the process you'll discover monumental growth that comes from small changes built up over time.