We all communicate naturally; most of us find it impossible NOT to communicate… but we don’t always communicate effectively.

First of all, let’s analyse communications. We pick up messages from each other in three ways; from body language, tone of voice and the words we use. We pick up most from people’s body language… and, yet, so often we don’t even consider this when hoping to communicate effectively.

For example, a job interview; we prepare answers for questions they may ask us or that we may ask, we think about what to wear. How often do we consider our tone of voice or our body language? Nobody should become like a choreographed politician, but we should put some thought into such things.

This applies also to our interactions with colleagues and clients. If you want to make sure someone isn’t insulted or takes something the wrong way, make sure you communicate your message in an appropriate way.

Our body language should be relaxed and friendly if we don’t want someone to feel threatened. You may pick the correct words to use, but these words will lose all value if the body language contradicts the message. It is possible to show sarcasm, dislike or anger with our stance or facial expressions.

Next, think about how many ways you can say “thank you”; with sarcasm, anger, delight, appreciation. Make sure you always get the tone right. Practise in advance if you’re worried about offending someone.

Watch out for negative words such as “just”, “actually” or a phrase such as “in the first place”. Added to what we consider polite phrases, these can show aggression. “The fault wouldn’t have occurred if you’d connected the wires properly in the first place” or “I’m just a secretary”.

Rephrase these in this way “The fault may occur if the wires are not connected correctly” and “I’m a secretary”. A small change in wording can make a huge difference to a relationship. Prepare your words along with your tone and body language.

“The meaning of our communication is the response we get back, regardless of the intention.”

If someone hasn’t understood us, we tend to assume they’re not listening or being stupid; maybe WE are not expressing ourselves in the correct way for that person.

To ensure good relationships we need to build rapport with people and we do this in four ways :

  • Non-verbal
  • Voice/tonality
  • Language
  • Beliefs

If we can match people’s body language and tone of voice there will be a rapport. We feel closer to people who use similar words to us – be it our mother tongue or simply regional dialects. We also have rapport with people who have similar beliefs to us; not only religion, but interests, ethics and standards.

“Sit up and take notice of what makes people sit up and take notice.”

Take an interest in other people and you will have a great relationship with those people and, hence, much improved communications.

Listening is also a vital part of communications and, as you can now understand, it’s not just about the words, but also a person’s tone of voice and their body language – listen and observe.

Consider written communication; your correspondence will be much more effective, maybe even persuasive, if you consider your reader. Use their words, consider what is important to them.

And, don’t forget social media where, again, all of this applies. Give people something that will interest them and they will take an interest in you. It is a basic human right to be able to express ourselves perfectly – and effectively.

Heather Baker is the Author of a number of Pitman Training courses. Heather had more than 20 years’ experience as a secretary and PA before becoming a trainer of over 15 years.

She is an extremely profound trainer with students from all over the world and is huge Administration Professionals advocate.