Communicating Effectively

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    As Technical Writers and Communicators, we have to communicate and collaborate effectively. If we follow some basic rules about interpersonal skills, then we can be sure that communicating verbally and in writing to individuals will be successful. How do we begin to do this?

    Build your relationships. Make sure that you are paying attention to others when they speak.

    • Pay attention and face them when speaking and listening.
    • Show them that you genuinely care about what they are saying by nodding or smiling.
    • Repeat what you heard to make sure that what was said is understood and verified.
    • Avoid miscommunications by taking good notes. But try not to look away from the speaker too often when writing down notes.

    Build a rapport in order to exchange information more easily.

    • Pay close attention to what is being said and listen to what they want and what they know.
    • Be honest and open when speaking about any information that is shared or needed.
    • When sharing information you have, be open and trustworthy.
    • There is no need to hide nor hold anything back if all the information is factual.
    • Answer questions truthfully to form a trust.

    Make the conversation data driven.

    • Have your data ready for a presentation or to make a convincing argument.
    • Use it to help display points. Data is factual and real. Once shown and explained, information will be more easily understood and retained.
    • In addition, provide visual images to represent data facts. This helps others to digest information more easily.

    Engage others to join the conversation.

    • Taking advantage of relaxed encounters can cause people to open up more and hence reveal even more information or details.
    • Opening up communication within a group can provide more ideas and questions that need to be answered.
    • Having others give their opinions and thoughts can open up new topics from rethinking and ironically, open up more challenges. This latter item is a good thing not a bad thing as it motivates others to delve into other areas. Innovations, improvements, and increased productivity can surprisingly, result.
    • Engaging others can also provide new designs, concepts, and views.

    When having a conversation involving more than two people, there are precautions that have to be taken. This is the case when one person dominates the conversation – do not let this happen. You always have to be in control if you are the originator of the conversation (and/or meeting). People can diverge from the main focus of a topic, causing the reason behind the conversation to be lost. Try to keep conversations (and/or meetings) on task.

    In the end, workers and coworkers function better when working with people they are comfortable with. So it is best to be interested in the people you are communicating with. Information will then flow easier as well, i.e., a relaxed interaction allows better collaboration and more information to be shared. Building personal relationships is important for helping to get your tasks and hence your writings completed.