Great Communicators Start Here

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. Peter Drucker

Working with technology for over fifteen years I find too many people jumping on the next technology before they have mastered the most basic skill. Communication. It causes more problems than StackOverflow or Wi-Fi issues.


A few years ago I thought I wanted to work on my communication skills by becoming a Toastmaster and learning more about what I should say. Over time I have realized that being able to speak well is important, but listening is where it starts.

Active Listening

I once heard Bob Knight speak and he said, “Everybody hears, but few will listen.” As we tune into the things being said we want to use active listening skills. Start with giving them your undivided attention. Put your phone away and don’t leave it on your desk or table.

Everybody hears, but few will listen - Bob Knight Click To Tweet

Show the speaker you are listening to your body language. Listen without judgment. If we make quick judgments of people you may miss portions of the message or stop listening entirely. Provide feedback when given the opportunity and ask clarifying questions.

Nonverbal Communication

Stay tuned into your own gestures as you listen. Maintain eye contact. Make sure your facial expressions are in line with your speaker. Some people will listen with a tense face and this can throw of the speaker.

Show your listening by leaning forward #ListeningSkills Click To Tweet

Note the space between you and the speaker. This can tell them your level of interest. The posture you have can signal disinterest if you are sitting back or slouching. Leaning forward shows more interest.


Having clarity of your message can avoid confusion. We need to ensure your verbal and nonverbal communication is aligned. Also, we need to make sure your content is aligned. If we contradict you we lose any credibility we may have established.


When I was in high school I had an English teacher, Mr. Williams, that recommended I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. The advice has been helpful for many years.

The first principle is to be interested in other people. We need to ask good questions and then another simple thing is to smile. Do you want to talk to someone that is grouchy?

It is important to remember someone’s name. I find if I use their name a few times when we first meet I can remember it better. Finally, we need to talk in terms of their interest and make them feel important. Don’t patronize them, though, they can easily tell.


Communicate with confidence. Whatever you have to say is important. No one wants to listen to someone who is meek. Walk tall and know you are doing something worthwhile.


Today we have a myriad of choices on how we can communicate. From the telephone, email, text message, and Skype. There are much more but make sure you choose the right one for the person you are talking to and the message you have to convey. Some things are still best done in person.

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