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Dr. Mac Powell Shares 5 Habits of an Effective Communicator
Thursday, 06 June 2019

 What makes a great communicator?  The short and simple answer is that great communicatorsmanage a balance between talking and listening. And finding the balance between these seemingly opposing efforts takes practice and attention.

 Whether you are a new employee, a manager, or the CEO of a company your communication skills will largely determine your success.  Being able to both coherently and confidently getting your message across while listening empathically to those around you is a key leadership skill noted by almost every top executive in the world. As Debasish Mridha stated, “Talking doesn't get your point across, but listening does.”

Here are 5 habits fromby Dr. Mac Powell that will help anyone become a more effective communicator:

1. Pay attention

This involves much more than just passive listening. You need to show you are really participating in the conversation. Instead of being ready with examples of your own experience, consider how you can explore the other person’s ideas by asking questions that start with what, where, when, and how. When I was training clinical psychologists, I would regularly tell young therapists that they should only intervene into one-third of the opportunities their clients presented…in other words, let the client talk and just listen.  Be aware of your own internal process.  Don’t jump in with everything you want to say bur rather be judicious with your own offerings.  Be a conscious and conscientious listener.

2. Stop multitasking

When you want to propose an action or deliver your strategy for a project, you need to be 100% present. This goes for when you are listening too. It is not just switching off your smartphone; it is also blocking out the conversation youjust had with your boss, colleague or partner. Make sure to pause and clear your mind. Being present takes A LOT of practice with all of the distractions we have around us. When done well, being present can be the greatest gift you give another person.

3. Be mindful of nonverbal communication

Your facial expressionsare more revealing than you think. Frowning or wandering eye-movement can be very discouraging. Be mindful of your hand gestures, your posture, and the direction your body is facing as you listen -  theyall convey interest, boredom, or enthusiasm.

Appropriate use of touch can also be a powerful aid in communication. This can be a simple hand touch or a reassuring pat on the shoulder. But, be mindful and respectful of people’s boundaries.

Most importantly, maintain good eye contact. We tend to convey our passion or interest with our eyes, so be aware of what they are conveying (and no staring or glaring).

4. Polish up your empathy

Colleagues who are irritable, insensitive, and downright intolerant are less likely to be promoted.  Practice tolerance and empathy by thinking about your own biases and try putting yourself in other people’s shoes. The Golden Rule is always an excellent guide: treat others in evrery situation as you would want to be treated. As yourself, regularly, am I treating this person the way I’d like them to treat me.  By doing so, you are showing that you are aware of other people’s feelings and emotions, not just your own.  Empathy is the real foundation of honest and open communication.

5. Cut down on emails and high-tech communication

We often find ourselves distracted by the technologythat we have come to rely on. Gadgets and tools can become a hindrance to our ability to communicate if we are not careful.

Just think about why no email Fridays are so popular - the staff gets a chance to actually talk to each other and connect.  This simple practice can boost staff morale and create higher engagement.

Reflect on these five habits from Dr. Mac Powell and try to put them into practice. You will be well on the way to becoming a much more effective communicator, and people will notice it.

About Dr. Mac Powell:

Dr. Mac Powell is a PGA Master professional and Certified Mental Performance Consultant for the Association of Applied Sport Psychology and applies his knowledge of performance psychology and change management to higher-education improvement. A former professor of psychology and clinician, Dr. Powell brings an MBA, a PhD and decades years of experience to his passions for inclusion and opportunity in the lives of students. To read more expert advice from Dr. Powell, visit
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