9 Effective Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively is an essential skill in today’s world. Communication is a dynamic process and how you communicate can positively and negatively affect the relationships you have in your work and life.

In today’s post, I will be covering –

  • What is Communication?
  • 5 Barriers to Effective Communication
  • 9 Effective Communication Skills


What is Communication?

There are many definitions of communication, including the –

  • “imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium” and “means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers.” ~ Google
  • “act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviours to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  • “exchange of thoughts, messages or information, as by speech, signals, writing or behaviour” ~ The Free Dictionary
  • “act or an instance of communicating; the imparting or exchange of information, ideas, or feelings” ~ Collins Dictionary
  • “imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium” ~ Oxford Dictionary


As you can see by the above, communication is more than just your words, it also includes –

  • how you say it – including the tone of your voice,
  • why you say it – the intention behind the message,
  • when you say it – for example – during an argument, the time of day etc.,
  • what you don’t say – sometimes what you don’t say gives a clearer picture of what is going on than what you say, and
  • your body language – including your facial expressions, gestures and posture.


5 Barriers to Effective Communication 

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid to me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” ~ Henry David Thoreau


In many ways, the above quote sums up effective communication! So what are some behaviours that get in the way of communicating effectively with other people? Glad you asked!

Five barriers to effective communication include –

1. Judging the other person.

If you are judging a person whilst you are talking to them you could be criticising, diagnosing or calling them names. An example of criticising is saying “don’t you understand anything?”

2. Not paying attention to the person you are talking to.

Examples of this include – playing with your mobile phone or electronic device, not listening to the thoughts or feelings of the person you are speaking to, looking away when the other person is talking.

3. Using technical language.

Have you ever been at an event when people are using acronyms or language relevant only to their profession? If so, you know what I mean!

4. Giving solutions or unwanted advice.

I am not sure of many people who like to be told what to do! What about you?

5. Avoiding the concerns of others.

In a conversation that is avoiding the concerns of others, the listener don’t address the problem (i.e. the individual’s feelings and concerns are not taken in to account). This can be done in a variety of ways, including diverting the conversation, reassuring the person or discounting the, (i.e. yes, but…).


9 Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication doesn’t happen overnight, it is a skill that has to be cultivated and nurtured. Below are some skills that can be practised to build on or develop your communication skills.

1. Active Listening –

Some ways to actively listen include: listen twice as much as you speak, listen with your whole body, be alert and interested in the other person, refrain from interrupting and reflecting back what you have heard. Remember – “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” ~ Ralph Nichols.

2. Non-Verbal Communication –

We transmit information using words, gestures and body language, subsequently active listening also involves non-verbal communication. Sometimes you can be unaware of the messages you are sending none-verbally. Examples of non-verbal signals include tone of voice, eye contact, facial expressions, silence and hand, arm and leg postures. Are you aware of the signals your non-verbal communication could be sending?

3. Asking Questions –

When you are in conversation with someone, asking questions shows you are interested in them. There are many types of questions you can ask including – open (i.e. questions that start with What and How), closed (i.e. questions that start with Did, Do, Would, Will, Should, Could, Have, Must and Is), specific (e.g. questions that are specific can start with When, Where, Who, Which, How much, How many and How often) or visionary (e.g. what are your dreams).

4. Being Clear and Succinct –

when you are speaking, be clear, articulate and concise. Less is more when it comes to speaking and speak plain English.

5. Clarifying and Summarising –

to ensure you are hearing correctly you can reflect back to clarify what you have heard and summarise what you have heard from the other person. This shows you are listening to the other person and also checks you have the message correct that they are trying to get across.

6. Being Empathetic –

Having empathy for another person is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Not sure what I am talking about – have a look at this beautiful clip called “If We Could See Inside Other People’s Hearts.”

7. Providing Feedback –

It doesn’t matter whether you are giving or receiving feedback, the feedback process is a vulnerable place to be. If you are providing feedback, you may like to use the Engaging Feedback checklist that was developed by Dr Brené Brown.

8. Developing Trust and Rapport –

What is trust for you?  How do you build trust with your friends, family and colleagues? Is it about doing what you say you are going to do and building relationships on honesty and integrity? How do you build trust in your relationships? As Ralph Waldo Emerson stated – “The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, not the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

9. Being Present –

Being present links to many of the above skills. Some of the words that relate to being present include being accepting of the other person you are communicating with, allowing life to be as it is, cultivating compassion and having a beginners mind. Thich Nhat Hanh so eloquently says – “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”


Over to You…

I hope you have enjoyed this post on communication, barriers to effective communication and effective communications skills. What is your best tip on communication or favourite communication skill? Feel free to share in the comment section below. If you have any questions, please contact us.


If you are ready to take yourself on the journey of getting to know yourself (your true self), why not join the Toolkit (it’s free)? A place where I share tools, inspiration and ideas to live a courageous and openhearted life.


Page Reference –

I have had many people want to reference this page, so here is the correct reference. Thanks in advance for honouring my work 🙂

Taylor, J. (2015) 9 Effective Communication Skills. [WWW] Available from: https://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/9-effective-communication-skills/ [Accessed …….. ]


  • Kesa Cavalevu

    Reply Reply September 6, 2019

    Well presented and simple. I do presentations on this topic to our church women members and Pastors wives and find your article very useful Jane. Stay blessed

    • Jane

      Reply Reply September 7, 2019

      Thanks Kesa – you are welcome and glad you found it useful 🙂

  • Riina Toakai

    Reply Reply August 26, 2019

    Thanks for your sharing Jane. It is very useful to acquire as a teacher or workers/owner of company, leadership because it leadsd your way for building good communications with peers.
    thank you

    • Jane

      Reply Reply August 29, 2019

      You are welcome – thanks Riina 🙂


    Reply Reply August 21, 2019

    I’ve been really helped with the piece in my exams thank you so much

    • Jane

      Reply Reply August 26, 2019

      Glad it helped you Nicholas!

  • Barbara Martin

    Reply Reply August 13, 2019

    I am putting together a slide presentation for a leadership academy. Your information is presented in a manner that anyone can understand. I would love to use part of it and I will be sure and reference you on the slide.


    Reply Reply July 19, 2019


    • Jane

      Reply Reply July 19, 2019

      Thanks Georgia for letting me know. Can I ask what do you mean by literal? Have a great day!

  • Rosalia Santillan

    Reply Reply July 18, 2019

    Hi Jane,


    Good job on this 🙂

    • Jane

      Reply Reply July 18, 2019

      Thanks for sharing Rosalia – I like that quote 🙂

  • Melissa

    Reply Reply July 12, 2019

    Great tips, really helpful.

  • Lizilly

    Reply Reply June 22, 2019

    reasons for effective communication

    • Jane

      Reply Reply June 22, 2019

      Not sure what you mean Lizilly – can you please clarify?

  • Dee Dee

    Reply Reply June 16, 2019

    Do you have any references for your 9 Effective Communication Skills? They line up with many other resources, but I am wondering if this is self-created, from a single resource or combination of many. Thanks!

    • Jane

      Reply Reply June 16, 2019

      Thanks Dee Dee for the comment, I created these 9 🙂 If you use them, can I ask you reference them? Thank you, Jane

  • jackson nyamweno

    Reply Reply June 14, 2019

    I don’t know how to say it but the information there is really helpful. It’s wow!..thanks alot

  • Ranjul Sharma

    Reply Reply June 13, 2019

    Short and crisp, a quick read, helpful information, easy to achieve.


    • Jane

      Reply Reply June 15, 2019

      You’re welcome Ranjul 🙂

  • susan

    Reply Reply April 3, 2019

    I found the information clear and helpful

    • Jane

      Reply Reply April 4, 2019

      Thanks for letting me know Susan – can I ask what was helpful about it? Warm wishes, Jane

  • Kamesh

    Reply Reply March 30, 2019

    I found your take on effecctive communication clear, simple and concise…I tried to copy the stuff but was not able to. Can I download your material?

    • Jane

      Reply Reply March 30, 2019

      Hi Kamesh – thanks for taking the time to comment. Can I ask why you would like to download it? Warm wishes, Jane

  • Jonathan

    Reply Reply March 25, 2019

    It is important to learn about Effective Communication Skills.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply March 25, 2019

      Yes it is Jonathan 🙂

  • Yo

    Reply Reply March 16, 2019

    I noted all points for my technical communication exam ?

    • Jane

      Reply Reply March 16, 2019

      Hope they helped you Yo!

  • Salfa

    Reply Reply March 12, 2019

    Thank you very much for giving as this knowledge of understanding communication

    • Jane

      Reply Reply March 13, 2019

      You are welcome Salfa 🙂

  • Lauren B Wegener

    Reply Reply February 4, 2019

    Hello, thank you for this article. I’m trying to work on my communication skills and I’m running into a barrier.
    Your article above indicates that asking questions, including specific questions, and clarifying and summarizing what you heard are effective communication skills. I use these frequently because I have a hard time understanding when someone overuses pronouns or uses nonspecific language (referring to “things” or “stuff”).
    However, I am finding that certain conversation partners get very upset by how many questions that I ask. Often, when we are discussing an issue, I find myself need to ask several questions in order to correctly decode their message. This seems to upset them. Additionally, I find that the person I am speaking with will begin to answer their own question, by way of an explanation, instead of the yes/no question that I asked.
    If I wait until the end, summarize what I understood, and I am incorrect, I get accused of not listening.
    I feel that perhaps I’m doing this wrong. Would asking more open ended questions be a better method here?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply February 4, 2019

      Thanks Lauren for your question. Yes, communication can be challenging sometimes. Without knowing the full details of your situation, I am unable to give you advice. You may like to look in to working with a coach or someone on communication if you see this as a challenge for you. Warm wishes 🙂

      • Colin

        Reply Reply April 24, 2019

        Interesting question Lauren and you make some great points.

        The challenge, as I see it, is simple. Most people are not used to being fully heard, i.e. having someone in front of them who is an active listener. They are more used to having their words heard but not listened to…there is a big difference between hearing and listening. The former we all do, unless audibly impaired, the latter we have to intend to do, to be a listener.

        Another aspect is that most of us trot our stuff out without it ever being questioned or challenged, (most find challenge difficult, as their environment is not safe to do so). So they never have to think through their stuff.

        The conversation can be a series of monologues not dialogues, again very different.

        The reality is that if a speaker is with an active listener who asks questions, great understanding is achieved, a deeper, more meaningful relationship transpires and the work gets done with fewer errors, mistakes and misunderstandings.


  • Sandra Smith

    Reply Reply December 3, 2018

    Dear Jane
    I’ve read your website articles with great interest. Do you have any written scenarios I could give to a colleague to help her improve communications with internal and external colleagues and third parties?
    Many thanks
    Sandra Smith
    Communications Team Manager

    • Jane

      Reply Reply December 3, 2018

      Hi Sandra – what do you mean by scenarios? I work with clients to do what you identified above in coaching, if that helps? Warm wishes, Jane

  • Doryn Naira

    Reply Reply November 27, 2018

    Am actually having a paper about communication skills am really glad l came across this thanks so very much

  • Geoffrey D. Malembeka

    Reply Reply November 27, 2018

    Dear Jane
    Thank you very much for your very educative information on effective communication. Surely I will use this material to my student nurses while discussing the Module on Communication. Once again thank you.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply December 2, 2018

      Glad you found it informative Geoffrey.

  • Daniel

    Reply Reply November 22, 2018

    Dear Jane,

    Wish I had such practical information when I set out on married life thirty years ago.
    Topic of ” Communication” should be part of school curriculum .

    • Jane

      Reply Reply November 22, 2018

      Thanks Daniel – glad you found it practical 🙂

  • M.Asim Khan

    Reply Reply November 13, 2018

    Yesterday, I delivered a lecture on communication skills. I took a great help from your article. It’s sufficient to understant the concepts of comunication, effective communication and communication skills.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply November 13, 2018

      Thanks so much – appreciate you letting me know 🙂

  • John Blake

    Reply Reply November 6, 2018

    A great article. I love the pragmatic 1 – 9 ideas handy for any educator or manager. Keep up the good work Jane.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply November 6, 2018

      Thanks John for taking the time to comment. Warm wishes, Jane


    Reply Reply October 25, 2018

    Thank you for a very informative and confirmation of communication. More people should read and learn these communication skills.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply October 25, 2018

      Thanks Elsie for taking the time to comment 🙂

  • Venkataramanan VR

    Reply Reply September 26, 2018

    Please clarify: Under “What is communication?” it is given ” It includes….What you don’t say – sometimes what you say gives a clearer picture of what is going on than what you say”.

    I think a word, “don’t” is missing in the sentence; can it be, ” sometimes what you (don’t) say gives a clearer picture of what is going on than what you say”.

    This article is Brief, valuable, must be practiced! I look forward to read more on soft-skills.

    Thanking you, regards, Dr. Venkataramanan

    • Jane

      Reply Reply September 26, 2018

      Thanks Dr Venkataramanan – yes have just added the don’t in – you are the first one who has picked that up 🙂 Thanks again, Jane

  • Caroline Kisakye

    Reply Reply September 4, 2018

    Wow, well explained and illustrated. Applicable examples.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply September 4, 2018

      Thanks Caroline 🙂

  • Jim Fairhurst

    Reply Reply June 30, 2018

    I really appreciated your article on communication. You are right on and I am sharing your article with others. It is one thing to be able to talk but another to speak effectively thank you again for your insight.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply July 1, 2018

      Thanks Jim – glad you liked it. Warm wishes, Jane

      • Fermina L Camacho

        Reply Reply August 27, 2018

        What is your last name? I included a quote from this article in my paper and I need to cite this appropriately.

        • Jane

          Reply Reply August 27, 2018

          Hi Fermina – my last name is Taylor 🙂 Thanks for acknowledging my article – appreciate it.

  • Lyall

    Reply Reply May 8, 2018

    Thank you! Very informative and helpful. Amazing how valuable comms skills are becoming in different industry’s (IT).

    • Jane

      Reply Reply May 8, 2018

      Your are welcome Lyall – and yes these skills are important in all professions.

  • Elkanah chilongo

    Reply Reply March 2, 2018

    Thanks a lot Jane this has really helped me quite a lot with my project.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply March 3, 2018

      Glad to hear Elkanah – best of luck with your project 🙂

  • Najeeb koohi

    Reply Reply January 31, 2018

    Very valuable materials you shared, thanks Jane optimistically am looking for up coming materials and other relevant stuff

    • Jane

      Reply Reply January 31, 2018

      You are welcome Najeeb 🙂

  • Olekima

    Reply Reply December 3, 2017

    Congrats Jane. This is one of the best literal piece I have come across. It is deep,descriptive and expertly summarised. Am impressed.

    • Jane

      Reply Reply December 3, 2017

      Thanks Olekima for taking the time to comment 🙂

  • Varshitha

    Reply Reply November 1, 2017

    Clearly presented in an understandable manner

    • Jane

      Reply Reply November 1, 2017

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Varshitha.

  • Anaya Mughal

    Reply Reply August 3, 2017

    Very easy and sufficient matterial. Helpful

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