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How Can I Communicate Effectively?

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Put points across in simple, direct statements to enable others to understand your ideas.

Before communicating with anyone, decide exactly what you wish to express. After an important discussion, confirm the details in writing.

Planning Telephone Use: To make the best use of the telephone, plan calls in advance. Allow time each day for telephoning, and let regular callers know when you will be available to talk with them. Take notes while you are talking. Keep records of important telephone calls related to your work.

Taking Messages
When taking a message for someone else, record all of the following information.
• Name: Note the full name, in case the recipient of the message knows other people with the same first name.
• Telephone number: Take the number, even if the recipient of the message knows it.
• Time: Record the time when the call was taken.
• Message: Write down the content of a message after you have noted the relevant names and numbers.

Making Calls
• Planning a call: Write out points to discuss before you call someone. Keep the notes in front of you for reference while you are talking.
• Speaking pleasantly: Try to sound pleasant without being false. Imagine that the person is in front of you and smiling at you. Smile back, and your voice will reflect your mood.
• Staying on hold: If you are put on hold when you call someone, wait for only one minute. If the other person has not answered by then, leave a message or try later.

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Following Up
• Recording details: As soon as you have finished an important call, note the date and time of the call, and summarize the points that were discussed.
• Confirming information: After discussing an important matter with someone, write a letter to that person to confirm any decisions that you made.
• Leaving a message: If you have to leave a message for someone, specify a time by which that person should respond. Note this time in your calendar, and call again if the person has still not answered.


Organizing Correspondence

Deal with business correspondence regularly so that it does not pile up. Allow adequate time in your schedule, and ensure that you are not disturbed during that time. File letters and faxes, with photocopies of your replies, as soon as you have dealt with them.

Planning Structure
• Making a draft on a sheet of scrap paper, note the points to be covered in a letter. With each main point, note any related minor points. Write a rough draft of the letter, and make any last changes on this before writing the final version.
• Arranging information: Set out the main points of a letter or fax in brief paragraphs so that the recipient can read the information quickly. Allow one paragraph for each major point, and one sentence for each idea within a paragraph.

Laying Out Text
• Giving a heading: Begin a fax or a letter by giving a heading to the text. Write the heading in capital letters, or underline it. This will enable a reader to see at a glance what the document will be about.
• Highlighting facts: Give each paragraph a number or a heading. Place this above the paragraph, and underline it or print it in bold type.
• Listing points: When writing a list of items in the text of a letter, mark each one with a bullet to give it emphasis.

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Writing Letters of Complaint
• Be direct and accurate: Say only what is necessary, and try not to become emotional.
• Defining a goal: First, decide what you wish to achieve by writing, such as receiving compensation or a refund.
• Keeping it simple: Keep to the point. Support your message with facts, not with vague or emotional language.
• Including evidence: Always send photocopies rather than original documents.