7 Effective Communication Keys to Start Practicing Today!

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

7 Effective Communication Keys to Start Practicing Today!

Photo Credit: "Conversation", Valery Kenski, https://www.flickr.com/photos/95222905@N02/

To be effective at anything, we have to be effective communicators. Communication is the key to thriving relationships, businesses, and transactions. So how do we practice doing it well? Doing it better? Doing it mindfully?

Here are seven things that I find helpful to remember:

  1. Think About The Other Person, First.

Before you begin, consider the other person. Is now a good time to talk? How do they prefer to communicate? (Phone? Email? Text? In person?) Do they need to be prepared or forewarned about the conversation you’d like to have, rather than you just pouncing it on them? What do/will they need from you?

  1. Truly Actively Listen.

We all know we’re supposed to actively listen when someone is talking to us, but how often do we intentionally practice that? Instead, I think too often we are only partially listening, and partially thinking about what we are going to say next/what we are going to do tonight/what we need from the grocery/why it’s so hot in here. But the art of genuine active listening allows the person we are with to feel fully heard, respected, and validated.

  1. Listen Until The End.

Beyond just listening actively, it’s important to listen to the end. Let the person finish talking before you jump in, cut them off, finish their sentence for them. I struggle with this one, usually when I’m really excited about the topic or conversation. But I know that it cuts off the momentum of the person I’m talking to when I do it. Rather, when I listen to the end, I allow the person the time and space they need to fully formulate their thoughts. 

  1. Ask Questions.

If I don’t understand something someone is saying, I should ask them about it. If I’m not clear on what they are trying to communicate, I should ask them about it. If I’ve never heard of something they are talking about, I should ask them about it. If when they finish I feel like I still don’t have the full picture, I should ask them about it. If I’d like to know how they are feeling about a situation, I should ask them about it. If I’m trying to open the door to a conversation, I should start with questions. If I’m trying to express my desire to build or strengthen a connection with someone, I should start with questions. Questions are magic. 

  1. Validate What They Are Saying.

Whether I think they should be upset by what they are telling me or not, if they are upset by what they are telling me I should validate the way they feel. It’s not my job or my right to tell another person how they should feel about a situation, and if I want them to keep talking to me about future situations, then I need to honor what they are experiencing.

  1. Follow Up on Promises.

If I say I’m going to do something at the close of a conversation, then I’d better do it, and do it in a timely matter. Follow-up leads to trust and trust leads to stronger relationships. And if I can’t or don’t follow up as promised, well, see #7.

  1. Be Generous With Your Compliments And Apologies.

If you’ve done something wrong, say you’re sorry. Not with excuses or caveats, just apologize. Look them in the eye and say “I Am Sorry.” And if someone has done something well or impressed you or you like something about them, tell them. We all appreciate a compliment, or being noticed, so why not actively practice being a giver of compliments?

What would you add to the list? What practices do you use to communicate effectively?



“7 Effective Communication Keys to Start Practicing Today!”, The Leadership Program, Inc. 2016


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.