Communication skills encompass a variety of strategies and techniques that aid interpersonal interactions. When you are communicating effectively, it facilitates information sharing, perspective-taking and genuine understanding.communication

However, breakdowns in communication happen in all areas of our lives. People around the world are faced with communication issues every day. Organizations are constantly looking at ways to increase effective communication and the understanding of differing communication styles. Successful relationships both professionally and personally depend on good communication. Your day-to-day ability to communicate can be critical for the achievement of positive outcomes.

Understanding more about the fundamentals of communication and enhancing your communication skills will ultimately enhance your relationships with others both at work and at home. The benefits of communicating effectively are huge when compared to what happens in our lives when communication is lacking.

The Communication Process

In the communication process, our ability to get our point across involves three elements: Visual being the greatest proportion as 55% of our message is conveyed through what people see about us; 38% of our message is conveyed through tone of voice; and only 7% is communicated by the words we use.

This doesn’t mean the words don’t count. They do! It’s just that the way we say words – our tone of voice – and the way we look, our body language – can change the meaning conveyed. Furthermore, take into account that everyone will interpret each of these messages according to their own perceptions and will make a judgment that could be significantly different when compared with someone else’s perception. Understanding what skills are required in each of these elements will lead to more effective and powerful communication:


Body Language

Posture. Standing or sitting tall suggests professionalism as well as a sign of confidence. Slouching and drooping shoulders can be perceived as having poor self-esteem, inertia, or lacking professionalism. Sitting with your legs outstretched and arms behind your head might create a perception that says you think you are superior or a know-it-all! When you turn towards another, it indicates interest whereas when you turn away, you indicate disapproval. A hand on a hip may be interpreted as being indignant or bossy. Remember, body language provides a constant stream of signals which when checked against voice tone, eye movements and facial expression will create different perceptions for different reasons.

Distance and contact. We all have an invisible comfort zone or personal space. Being too close to someone during a conversation may possibly invade their personal space and cause the other person to feel uncomfortable. In the business environment, physical contact is considered to be inappropriate.

Eye Contact

When we are communicating face-to-face, it is important to make eye contact. If you look someone in the eye, they pay more attention to what is being said. Whether you are the sender or the receiver of the message, eye contact indicates you are paying attention. On the other hand, looking away may show disinterest.


Excessive motions are distracting to the listener. Be sure to use body movements and gestures to make your point. Foot tapping may demonstrate a lack of patience. Continuous movement of any kind may demonstrate nervousness or discomfort.

Facial Expression

Your facial expression creates a perception that doesn’t always reflect a true message. Very often your facial expression will say more than the words you speak. For example, approaching someone with a serious look because you are concentrating will give that person an opportunity to make a judgment about what you are going to say even before you open your mouth. Changing your expression will have a positive effect on your presentation.


Remember, it’s not so much what we say but how we say it. People will respond according to what they see and hear. Saying to someone, “You look great” or “You did a excellent job” in a sarcastic tone, or an angry tone as opposed to a sincere tone will get you completely different reactions. Yet, the words are the same!

Volume: How loud or soft your voice is. The volume of your voice can be raised or lowered to make a point. Usually, your normal speaking voice is adequate for conversation.

Rate: How fast or slow you speak. Your speed of delivery will communicate whether or not you are interested. A slow delivery may demonstrate you are bored and uninterested or even lack intelligence! At the same time, a delivery that is too fast may demonstrate you are impatient or annoyed. Speak succinctly. By slowing down your speech, you will ensure that you are being heard. Match your rate of speech with the person with whom you are speaking but be careful not to overdo it.

Pitch: How high or low your voice is. Usually someone with a squeaky high pitched voice is interpreted as someone who does not have authority. It can be difficult and irritating to listen to a person with a high pitched voice. Taking deep breaths will help give your voice an assertive, firm quality. The deeper you can pitch your voice, the more authority you will command.

Tone: Your voice tone is very important as it communicates what kind of attitude you have. It is essentially the personality of your voice. If you want to show someone you care, speaking with a firm, calm, caring and soothing tone will demonstrate your concern.

To reinforce the power of non-verbal communication, go back in time to when there were silent movies. Research Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy or the Three Stooges? Virtually all communication was achieved with exaggerated body movements and a few captions.

Your non-verbal communication is the means with which feelings, attitudes, understanding and moods are demonstrated. People will either believe or disbelieve you based on the way you are conveying the information. The non-verbal either endorses the verbal or discounts it. Understanding the intricacies of non-verbal communication is necessary to come across as believable, credible, convincing and competent.


Even the small percentage of communication that is verbal can be easily misunderstood. It is important to think before you speak. Your choice of words is imperative to how the receiver interprets your message. Bear in mind that a contradictory message is worse than no message at all. If the words of the message are harmless such as “I really like your hair,” and the accompanying voice is neutral with no expression, it will sound phony. If your body language and facial expression is depicting that you do not like the hair, then what you have is an incongruent message. That is, you are saying one thing with your words, another with your voice and another with your body language. Your message is likely to be misinterpreted and will create many difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Using words that work will make a huge difference. Some words make a powerful impact and learning to use these words will improve your interactions with others. Whereas, words that don’t work serve as a block because they communicate a negative message and will simply hinder your efforts to communicate successfully.

Communication Styles

Over and above the elements involved in the communication process, there are four communication styles and their associated behavior to be taken into consideration when communicating with others. We all exhibit some characteristics of each style, even though our behavior may emphasize one of the four. People primarily behave in one particular dominant style. There are no right or wrong styles. Styles are just different. Identification of style is not judgmental. It is descriptive. It is done to improve interpersonal communications and to solve problems, not to evaluate people.

It is important to realize that behavior which seems perfectly acceptable to us may in fact, be inappropriate to others. Whether the behavior is appropriate or not, it can produce an unproductive interpersonal environment. Style has no relationship to competency unless we carry our stylistic strengths to an extreme or are insensitive as to how we come across to others. The consequences can reduce interpersonal effectiveness and our competence. Recognizing the different styles and then utilizing or adapting to a combination of styles will enhance communications with others who are different to us.

Personal style: Outgoing and enthusiastic

Communication style: Animated.

Sounds like: “Let’s make it happen,” ; “I can do it”

Your Approach: Be enthusiastic and friendly.

Personal style: Deliberate and cautious.

Communication style: Focuses on facts and details.

Sounds like: “I need more information,” ; “Let me check again”

Your Approach: Be factual, precise and correct. Share logic and any proof.

Personal style: Flexible and easy going.

Communication style: A good listener, considerate of others.

Sounds like: “That sounds good to me,” ; “That works for me”

Your Approach: Be personable and conceptual. Expects ideas and opinions.

Personal style: Competitive and result oriented.

Communication style: Speaks forcefully.

Sounds like: “What’s the end result,” ; “Get it done now”

Your Approach: Be brief and to the point.

It’s important to realize it takes all kinds of communication styles to build meaningful relationships and to make them work. Imagine if everyone was the Leveraging style, they’d all have a good time, talk a whole lot and not much would be achieved.

Or if everyone was the Exacting style, they would come to the meeting, bring out all the data and facts, not talking much, of course, because they’d be analyzing the data!

If everyone was the Adapting Style, there would be so much flexibility, a decision might never be made because they would all be saying, “What do you think?” or “What do you prefer?”

If everyone was the Directing Style, there wouldn’t be much opportunity for a war because we would have been blown up long ago.

The success of any relationship lies squarely in how effective the communication is. When there is effective communication everyone benefits, professionally and personally. So, be sure that understanding takes place in all your interactions, because where there is no understanding, there is no communication.

Author's Bio: 

Judi Moreo is an author, speaker, and life coach. She has written 11 books including “You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power.” Judi can be reached at