Check Your Communication Skills

Use this check list to assess your communication skills.

Focus

* Do you pay complete attention to others when they are speaking? (A wandering focus discourages open communication.)

* Do you manage your thoughts during a conversation, focusing them on understanding what the other person is saying? (Effective listening requires more concentration than any other form of communication. If you are thinking about anything other than what the person is saying, you are defeating your ability to understand.)

* Do you postpone preparing your reply until after you have heard everything the other person has to say? (Thinking about what you plan to say while the other person is speaking prevents you from understanding what that person is saying.)

* Do you ignore distractions, such as other people, ambient noise, and the surroundings? (Attending to distractions makes you appear uninterested, unfocused, and rude.)

* Do you make eye contact during a conversation? (Watching a person's face shows that you are paying attention. You also gather nonverbal messages, which can convey most of the important information being conveyed to you.)

Environment

* Do you convey confidence, courage, and strength during your conversations? (A pleasant manner will encourage people to trust you and tell you more. Negative behavior conveys weakness, insecurity, and fear.)

* Do you react calmly to bad news? (Anger will frighten people into avoiding you.)

* Do you encourage others to speak freely? (Appearing interested, asking questions, and treating others with respect will facilitate open communication.)

* Do you use a diplomatic, positive vocabulary? (Talking about what you want is more forceful than talking about what you don't want, won't do, or can't do. This means that in most cases you would delete the word "not" from what you say.)

* Do you seek solutions? (Seeking approval, culprits, or excuses, discourages communication.)

Clarity

* Do you stick to the subject? (Introducing new unrelated issues will confuse the other person and degrade the quality of your conversation.)

* Do you maintain a "you" focus? (Speak in terms of what the other person needs, wants, and understands because that will enhance the impact of what you say.)

* Do you avoid games? (Asking trick questions, setting traps, and making others look bad will cause people to avoid you.)

* Do you use a linear, logical approach to explaining things? (Make it easy for others to understand you because it's more efficient.)

* Do you use common terms? (Avoid jargon and flowery speech because these impress only the person using them.)

IAF Certified Professional Facilitator and author Steve Kaye works with leaders who want to be more effective. His innovative workshops have informed and inspired people nationwide. His facilitation produces results that people will support. Call 714-528-1300 or visit his web site for over 100 pages of valuable ideas. Sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.stevekaye.com

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