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Career Success, Personal Growth, NSLS Blog

Best Practices for Effective Communication

Whether it’s getting a promotion, landing a new job, or discussing an important topic with a friend or loved one, learning how to communicate effectively is a key soft skill that can be utilized in all aspects of life.

By developing effective communication skills, you can establish trust, resolve conflicts, give better direction, and improve productivity, reports Portland Community College’s Continuous Learning for Individuals, Management, and Business (CLIMB) team.

The easiest way to begin developing your communication skills is to understand best practices and start to utilize them in the real world. Before we dig into those steps, let’s take a deeper look at why these skills are vital for success.

The Importance of Effective Communication

When you think of communication skills, a bunch of things likely come to mind. From public speaking to email writing, body language to text messaging, all of these are different nuanced channels of communication. 

Communication comes in many different forms. Understanding how each of these channels works and when to use different channels for different audiences is critical in today’s world.

For example, you may receive a text, answer an email, take a voice call,  and hop on a video call. Sometimes a combination of all of these channels happens at once. Understanding how to manage and use them appropriately to pass information to others effectively is a highly sought-after skill in the modern workplace.

As Jared Lindzon reported for Fast Company:

“Swedish job search engine analyzed the more than 6.5 million jobs posted on LinkedIn that included at least one of 11 common soft skills. It found that effective communication was cited in more than 2.3 million job openings, far outpacing the next most sought-after soft skill, leadership, which was included in just over 1 million job postings.”

Now that you have a better understanding of why you should continuously develop effective communication strategies, let’s get into how you can actually do it. We won’t dig into every communication channel. Instead, we’ll focus on what you can do right now to increase your efficiency across all of them.

Best Practices for Effective Communication

Like all soft skills, there are some key best practices for effective communication that should be followed as you grow and develop. While each of these areas can be honed on their own, keeping these higher-level best practices in mind is a great way to give yourself an immediate boost.

There’s many recommended practices for communication, but one of the most common frameworks is known as the Seven C’s, which contains a list of communication “attributes” that all great communicators strive for.

The Seven C’s of Communication

The Seven C’s include the following:

  • Clear. “Convey your message in an easy-to-understand manner. Use short, simple sentences while speaking or writing. The aim is to share your thoughts and ideas with utmost clarity,” reports LinkedIn.

  • Concise. Make your message as short and simple as possible. Remove filler words and lofty language. Basically, get to the point.

  • Concrete. Using concise and focused language can drive a point home without confusion.

  • Correct. Grammar, punctuation, and proofreading are key, alongside fact-checking and accuracy of the information being conveyed.

  • Consideration. Always keep your audience in mind. What’s the best method to communicate with them? What words should you use? What’s their mindset?

  • Complete. Though you should strive for concision, make sure that you provide all of the necessary information so that the receiver has everything they need.

  • Courteous. Friendliness and honesty go a long way. Remember to be respectful, especially when communicating feedback. The goal is for everyone to leave the interaction with a positive outlook.

By keeping the Seven C’s in mind, you’ll already be a more effective communicator. To become a great one, dig deeper into each aspect and reflect on which ones you struggle with and the ones where you excel.

How to Establish Good Communication Skills

To become the best communicator, you have to be an extremely good listener. After all, if you strive to hit all of the Seven C’s, you’ll need to efficiently adapt your communication style for the best outcome.

The Power of Active Listening

Just like with general communication practices, there are some tips that many people look to when they want to become better listeners. By far and away, the best skill to develop is active listening.

Active listening is when you not only listen to comprehend, but you listen to thoroughly understand. “In contrast to passively listening, the active listener has a clear goal in mind: to capture and reflect both the emotional experience and the ideological perspective of the speaker,” reports the Berkeley Well-Being Institute.

To become an active listener, the Center for Creative Leadership recommends the following tips:

  • Pay Attention. The goal of active listening is understanding. If you’re distracted, you’re not actively listening. This also means waiting to respond, examining the person’s body language, and taking in the whole moment.

  • Withhold Judgement. Keep an open mind to accept new ideas and keep your own thoughts and biases out of the way. Let a person explain their whole point before jumping to any judgments.

  • Reflect. This is an actionable technique where you paraphrase the message back to the sender to ensure you understand correctly. Think of this as a way to check if you’ve taken away what the person wanted you to.

  • Clarify. Never be afraid to ask questions to clarify something. It’s better to squash confusion quickly than let it get out of hand. If you need more information on a point someone is making, politely ask for more details.

  • Summarize. Like reflecting, summarizing the takeaways of a conversation in a clear manner can help both parties understand the next steps and reduce confusion.

  • Share. Communication isn’t a one-way street. Sharing common experiences can build trusting relationships while also helping the speaker and the listener understand one another better.

Establish Effective Communication Skills Through Practice

Communication takes time and practice. By utilizing best practices and active listening, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an effective communicator.

If you really want to become a next-level communicator, you should set it as a goal for yourself. We recommend using the SMART goal framework to help you set achievable goals that you can monitor over time.

You can learn about different goal-setting techniques here.

Best Practices for Effective Communication: Key Takeaways

Effective communication is a useful skill in all aspects of life but it’s increasingly a huge factor in the workplace, with many organizations ranking it the top soft skill.

Becoming an effective communicator relies on being a great listener and utilizing the Seven C’s of communication in conjunction with one another. Focus on the problem areas you have and set goals to help you achieve success over time.

Remember, communication is a skill that requires practice and continual development to master.