Six Principles for Effective Communication at Work

If you’re in business, your job involves human interaction. Human interactions are complicated as we have varying temperaments, opinions, personality defects, beliefs, and cultural conditioning. If you think about it, it’s amazing that we’re able to get along at all.

Most workplace conflicts can be avoided by applying a little more spirit and a little less ego. Humans are hard wired to be self-serving, but successful communication requires graciousness.

Life is often challenging. Most of us have inner and outer turmoil. As bestselling novelist Andy Andrews always says, we’re either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or heading for a crisis. We can call it the human dilemma.

So if you want to be a person of influence and an effective communicator, you need to focus on others instead of yourself. Is it easy? Not usually, but you can train the self-interested ego to behave, allowing the gracious self to take over. Then your relationships transform.

Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People provides expert principles to help you communicate more effectively by focusing on others instead of yourself. Here are several people-winning principles he identified:

Begin in a friendly way. Whenever possible, begin with praise and honest communication. Smile and be inviting and open instead of serious and demanding.

Give honest and sincere appreciation. How often do you offer genuine appreciation to your co-workers versus the times you criticize and condemn them?

Become genuinely interested in others. Learn to ask thoughtful questions that will show your interest in others.

Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely. Operate by the principle that you gain more influence by raising people up than by knocking them down.

Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Learn to value the positive instead of hunting for the negative. It’s easy to see what’s wrong—everybody can do that. A skilled individual finds the optimistic and positive perspective.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Remember, everyone is self-interested. Your job isn’t to change this, but to use it to your advantage in gaining influence in a benign, supportive way.

None of these principles are mind blowing or radically new. But they are rarely practiced consistently—except by the masters of influence and the leaders of change.