Second Five Habits of Excellent Communicators

Last week I shared the first five habits of good communicators based on the Honestly Speaking book, and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a few more each week.

Good communicators work at it, and some of being good at communicating is honing your skills, while other parts are more about working on yourself. You’ll notice that many of the items on this list are about how you show up as much as the words you share.

Good communicators develop good habits and patterns that reflect clarity of purpose, empathy, and care, and they are thoughtful about how and what they say. Much like an Olympic athlete or a concert musician practices and hones their skill with drills so that the basics become habits, so too with communication.

Here are the second five habits:

  1. They use body language well. Good communicators maintain eye contact with the people they are talking to. They shake hands confidently and don’t cross their arms while being spoken to. These might seem like small things, but the way you present yourself physically can make a huge impact in terms of how much you’re understood and heard.
  2. They are constantly referring back to the mission, the goal, or the shared connection. It is easy to get bogged down with the minutiae of your day-to-day operations, be it at home or at work. Great communicators are always referring back to the shared dream, whether a company mission statement or their marriage vows. Keeping your eye on the ball ensures that people are focused not just on tasks, but the greater success of your work or life as a whole.
  3. They are able to say things multiple ways. Everyone has their own preferred method of communication, and the best communicators understand that. They don’t just communicate in the way that works best for them; they find ways to make their message heard in multiple ways.
  4. They are not didactic or condescending. One of the easiest ways to lose an audience, either at work or at home, is to either talk over or talk down to them. Great communicators talk about complicated issues in a way their audience will understand, without being preachy or making the audience feel dumb, and make sure they are bringing their audience with them.
  5. They are humble. Think about some of the greatest minds of our generation — are they always talking about how great they are? Do they make a point of mentioning that they are extremely intelligent or successful? Do they claim to be entirely self-made? No. The best leaders are confident, communicate gratitude, apologize honestly, and are humble about their successes, along with always looking for ways to improve. This makes them relatable and trustworthy.

This article is based on Honestly Speaking: How the Way We Communicate Transforms Leadership, Love, and Life available now wherever books are sold.

Communications and culture leader, author, certified coach, lawyer, yoga teacher.