“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
-Epictetus (Greek philosopher)
Improving your effective communication skills is not as hard as you may think and there are several tools you can use to make your conversations (even online ones!) flow a little better:
1. Questions: try to ask questions in order to get additional detail. Make them open-ended questions (not questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no”) when you can so you’re sure to get all the info you need.
2. Paraphrasing: repeating what you just heard in your own words (paraphrasing) is a useful way to make sure you did not misunderstand the message. It also lets the speaker know you care about getting it right!
3. Using Examples: just like the saying “a picture says a thousand words”, an example is a great way to help your audience “visualize” what you are trying to say by trying to apply it in practical terms.
4. Stories: who doesn’t like a good story? If your topic is particularly dense or you want to make sure your audience doesn’t forget you, say what you have to say in the form of a story.
5. Be empathetic: this is all about putting yourself in the other person’s “shoes”. Look for cues that the person may be giving out hinting on thoughts or feelings so you can “tune” into them and make sure not only your words but also the tone of your message is well-received.
6. Positive Attitude: ever heard of the saying “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? A negative attitude will almost certainly repel your audience and make them less likely to want to agree with what you have to say.
7. Giving Feedback: small and encouraging phrases like “I see what you mean”, “uh-huh”, “interesting”, or a simple nod every now and then, lets the speaker know you are following the conversation and is usually appreciated.
8. Perception Checking: if you sense there may be even a remote possibility of a misunderstanding try to describe the situation you are sensing without being judgmental. For example, you can say something like: “I have assumed this: (…). Am I correct?” or, “From what I understand, (…). Is this right?”
So, as you can see, incorporating these tools for improving your effective communication skills in your daily interactions is not difficult at all yet will benefit you a great deal. Good luck!
Wikipedia – Communication Skills Training