Effective communication skills allow you to relate with others on an interpersonal level. But oftentimes, we tend to run into trouble when our lines of communication get crossed.
Misunderstandings arise as a result of miscommunications. Before you know it, a harmless disagreement turns into all-out “he said she said” warfare.
Wouldn’t it be better if we could navigate around the dangerous pitfalls of poor communication and just say what we mean?
As Lisa Nichols, one of the world’s most-requested motivational speakers and trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest, explains, “Communication is the distance between you and everything you want, everything you need, everything you desire.”
When you communicate effectively, you can avoid misunderstandings and build authentic connections with the people around you.
What Is Effective Communication?
The way we communicate is through the exchange of information, ideas, and emotions with others, both verbally and nonverbally. And when it’s done effectively, the message is expressed purposefully so that the receiver understands it clearly.
That’s essentially what effective communication is about: clear, correct, complete, concise, and compassionate messages. It leaves little room for misunderstandings and helps with conflict management.
The way these messages are relayed can take many forms: verbal speech, body language, facial expression, hand gestures, or written text. This is possibly why we sometimes have difficulty interpreting what others are trying to communicate.
For example, according to Grammarly’s “State of Business Communication,” ineffective and inefficient communication is costing the entire US economy $1.2 trillion every year in wasted labor hours.
Super leaders are not just responsible for the words that come out of their mouths. Super leaders take responsibility for how those words land as well.— Lisa Nichols, trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest
So it’s hard to deny that effective communication plays such a major role in our everyday lives. And there are learned traits we can cultivate and hone to become better, more effective communicators.
What Skills Are Needed for Effective Communication?
There are many skills that can help you communicate better. Body language and active listening are a few, but before diving deeper into those, it’s good to be mindful of the basics.
To be an effective communicator, it’s important to approach situations with confidence, clarity, open-mindedness, and empathy. This simple collection of skills can greatly enhance your interpersonal communication.
What are the basic principles of effective communication?
The basic principles of effective communication are as follows:
- Do not speak for the sake of speaking only
- Practice active listening
- Be clear
- Be curious
- Engage with others
- Be mindful of your body language
Why are they important? In essence, being able to communicate effectively increases our ability to be heard and understood. Communication skills bolster our confidence and self-esteem by empowering us to speak out.
Speaking is the doorway to get your greatest needs met. It’s the doorway to get your greatest desires manifested. It’s also the doorway to how you can pour life and possibility into the most people possible.— Lisa Nichols, trainer of Mindvalley’s Speak and Inspire Quest
When we take time to nurture and practice effective communication skills, we’re investing in ourselves. Plus, being a powerful communicator doesn’t just help us; it helps all those we attempt to communicate with.
When we know how to deliver our message clearly, succinctly, and directly, we’re eliminating the opportunity for miscommunication to occur (and less miscommunication means fewer misunderstandings).
How to Communicate With Confidence: 7 Skills to Master
It’s beneficial to be aware of bad communication habits. It is also important to take the time and effort to cultivate newer, better communication habits for the future.
“When you understand the power of your voice [and] how to use it,” says Lisa, “you harness so much.”
If you find yourself struggling to converse with others or having difficulty voicing your opinion, don’t worry. Learning how to communicate with confidence can help you be well on your way to productive communication in no time.
Here are seven effective communication skills to work on with Lisa’s insights taken from her Speak and Inspire Quest.
1. Discover your own voice
Your voice isn’t about the sounds that come out of your mouth. Rather, it’s about the feelings and thoughts you want to convey. And while we’re all given a sound, not many of us are taught how to find our own voice.
“There are so many influences that influence your tone,” explains Lisa. This includes that of your parents, culture, religion, spirituality, neighborhood, geographical origin, and so on.
The thing is, your voice is as unique as—to paraphrase what Lisa said—your DNA. And while you don’t have to be a speaker, what you say and how you say it matters.
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “When you find your voice, you’re really finding what you’re convicted for.”
So ask yourself these questions:
- How do I want to leave people feeling?
- What do I want them to think?
- What do I want them to be inspired to do?
2. Formulate your voice
Have you ever been in a situation where you said something and the person you were talking to took it the wrong way? It happens to the best of us.
This disconnect is, more often than not, based on the way you communicate your thoughts and feelings, according to Lisa. “There are certain ways that you craft words, you craft language, [and] you craft the delivery,” she adds. “And the delivery makes all the difference in the world.”
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “Formulating your words to create value in the lives of everyone who comes in contact with you, who crosses your path, only happens with great intention.”
You can view your voice as a gift or a weapon; it can help raise people up or push them down. And it all boils down to your intentions—how you want to deliver your message in a way that adds value to others.
3. Be authentic in your voice
Authenticity doesn’t mean being truthful. Rather, it’s being true to your own voice, or what Lisa calls your “naked truth.”
“It’s aligning the person [that] you are in the dark of the night when no one’s looking,” she explains. “It’s being willing to take off the layers—the layers of ‘I have something to prove,’ ‘I have something to protect,’ ‘I have something to hide,’ ‘I have something to defend.’”
Here’s the thing: With authenticity, there’s nothing to prove, protect, hide, or defend. When you deliver your messages in your authentic voice, you open yourself up to genuineness, transparency, and honesty.
And by doing so, you’re no longer talking about authenticity; you’re “doing authenticity.”
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “Your voice should always speak your truth, and when you speak your truth, you give everyone listening access to discovering their truth.”
Learn more about authenticity: Your Naked Truth: How to Be Authentic (For Real)
4. Manage fear and anxiety
It can be scary to speak with your authentic voice. Whether you’re communicating with one, two, or a few, fear and anxiety can sometimes creep up. So how do you deal with that?
Lisa suggests understanding that “it’s very normal to have fear and anxiety around something that matters.” In fact, there’s a good chunk of the general population (about 15-30%) who are affected by public speaking anxiety, according to a 2016 article.
The reality is, fear is just an emotion, very much like compassion, joy, and love. “If you think about it,” she says, “you have all these emotions. Fear is just one of them. We simply give fear more power.”
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “What it does when you use it correctly is [that] fear feeds you information.”
It’s there to signal you to slow down, speed up, or find help. It’s there to encourage you to find more information about that topic so you’re more knowledgeable and in turn, more powerful.
5. Actively listen
Learning how to use your voice is one aspect of effective communication. The other is actively listening. It’s something many of us are guilty of.
Sometimes, it stems from an inherent attitude of competition instilled in us at a young age. Other times, it’s merely a symptom of feeling unheard or undervalued. And some of us even go so far as to interrupt what others are saying mid-sentence, just to interject our own thoughts and opinions.
“Listening is normally a flat and passive experience,” explains Lisa. This can lead to minimal engagement with your audience, especially in this day and age where there are so many distractions around.
We have to learn to practice active listening to have better communication. This is just one of many effective communication skills, but it could be one of the most important.
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “You want to create an active listening experience by engaging your audience on multiple levels, creating what I like to call a ‘3D listening experience.’”
When you can, try to practice active listening. Effective communication skills aren’t just about cultivating a powerful message. They’re also about being a careful and considerate listener.
6. Be aware of your body
More than half of what you’re saying isn’t coming from your mouth. That’s right, body language accounts for a majority of your communication, and it’s likely that you’re not aware of the messages you’re sending.
Your body, your posture, and your facial expressions all play a role in the way you communicate:
- Crossed or folded arms: Defensiveness, insecurity
- Hands clasped behind the body: Authority, confidence
- Adjusting clothes, watch, jewelry: Nervousness
- Finger pointing: Aggression
- Clenched fists: Anger, resolve, anxiety
- Clasping or squeezing hands: Self-soothing
- Hands on the hips: Authority, assertiveness
“Strengthening your message through movement is everything,” says Lisa. The next time you’re speaking to another person, perform a quick body scan to find out how your body is positioned.
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “When you engage body movement, you give people the opportunity to come, to communicate with you, to experience joy or jubilance, or to experience sorrow.”
Ask yourself: Are you closed off? Are your arms folded? Or do you have a relaxed, open posture, with your arms at your sides?
When you’re more aware of your body and the space you’re in when you communicate with others, you can truly level up your effective communication skills.
7. Use the pregnant pause technique
There are a lot of techniques Lisa provides in her Mindvalley Quest. One of the most effective ones is called the “pregnant pause.”
It’s what it sounds like—a pause that makes a statement. What makes it incredible is that it acts as a filler instead of the typical uhs, ers, and so’s.
“The pregnant pause is a gift to your listener, and it’s a gift to yourself,” Lisa points out. It not only gives your listener time to digest what you’ve said; it also gives you time to breathe, structure your thoughts, and create drama for excitement.
Lisa Nichols’ tip: “You want to make sure it’s inside of a rhythm where you’re talking and you’re speaking and you’re giving value.”
Sometimes, you just need to stop and give yourself permission to let that gift—the pregnant pause—work its magic.
Dos and Don’ts of Effective Communication
Everyone is guilty of a few conversational faux pas now and again. So to maintain the course of mastering your effective communication skills, here’s a short list of dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
- Do slow down. One tip-off of nervous communication is high-pitched, quick pace speech. Take a deep breath. Slow down. Take your time.
- Do stay present. One way we trip ourselves up when speaking is by trying to conjure up what we’re going to say next. Trust in yourself. Trust that the words will come. You can only say one thing at a time. Stay present.
- Do be aware of your body. Confidence is about much more than just your voice. Your body language says a lot too. Relax your shoulders, ease your jaw, stand tall, and take a deep breath. When you’re ready, begin to speak.
- Don’t speak before you think. Take time to decide what you’d like to say.
- Don’t ramble. The key to confident communication is to be succinct.
- Don’t yell. Bold communication is about much more than simply raising the volume of your voice. You want to be clear and concise, but you don’t need to be loud.
Learning better, more effective communication skills can help you transition into a confident, skilled, and adaptive conversationalist during one-on-one conversations or even public speaking. Moreover, it will help you better navigate your relationships with others.
Be a Communication Sensation
It’s not always easy to get up and speak in front of people you don’t know well. Sometimes, it’s even more challenging to get up and speak in front of those you do know well.
If you want to make your voice heard, you’ll need to cultivate a strong and confident delivery. And you can learn how to do so with Lisa Nichols in her Speak and Inspire Quest at Mindvalley.
When you sign up for a free account, you’ll have access to sample the first few lessons for free. What’s more, you’ll find yourself amongst others who are also learning how to level up their effective communication skills, so you don’t have to go at it alone.
Becoming a more confident speaker takes time and practice. It’s a skill that must be curated over time, so don’t expect too much from yourself right off the bat.
Be patient, be kind to yourself, and work at it bit by bit, day by day.