Communication comes in a variety of forms and presents numerous challenges. Effective communication styles really depend on the situation and the other person’s ability to understand what is being communicated. Do you believe that we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason? I am not certain why God made us that way, but I think it is because listening, and more than that, hearing is a Critical Success Factor. 

Consider this – when you are speaking to someone, what feels better; 1. they are looking at you, letting you finish your thoughts and then asking questions to make sure that they understand or 2. they look away, interrupt or offer advice prior to you finishing your thoughts? I have been on both sides of this coin. When thinking of experiencing the later, I feel disrespected. Conversely, when thinking of being the culprit, I feel embarrassed and ashamed.

Let’s begin then with listening and examine some potential helpful hints regarding this important communication skill.

Listen With Your Face 

When written out this may not make sense, but put in the context of face-to-face interaction it makes great sense. Listening with our face means looking at the person talking, and giving facial expressions that relay understanding. When you engage in a conversation this way it allows you to better focus on what the other person is saying.

When reading written communication, attempt to hear what the other person is saying through their written words. That takes focus, and is exactly what we should do when trying to be an effective communicator.  After all, we want them to focus on the important things that we have written, don’t we?


To me, hearing is truly  understanding what is being written or said. It goes beyond reading or listening. It comes down to listening with a good attitude. That requires taking a bit of time, focus and thoughtfulness. Focus is difficult because so often we are deciding how to react while listening to what is being said. Choose to respond and not to react. 


By asking clarifying questions and summarizing what we think we hear, we are not only showing interest, we are helping ourselves better understand what is being communicated. From a written perspective, the same truth holds. There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification!


Focus more on what is being said than how it is being said. Body language, tone of voice, inflection, volume and other characteristics of speaking can be deceiving. Have you ever been nervous about talking to someone and not know why? Have you ever been intimidated by a person, audience or situation when talking?  

I know that body language helps communicate certain emotions, but when in the context of someone being nervous, it can distort the real message they are trying to deliver. The same holds true with written communication. I often personalize my message in these leadership writings, almost as if speaking versus writing. That may seem elementary or a bit unprofessional at times. But my intent remains the same, which is to communicate a message to help others be more successful. Filter style and delivery from the content and the message will become clear.

Becuase communication is the number one success factor, it is a pretty darned important skill to develop!