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Archive for become a better communicator


The basic building block of good communications is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value.

~ Unknown

It’s our ability to communicate, relay and store information and collaborate with others, that has allowed our society to progress. The same is true in the microcosm of the organization. Organizations that have effective communicators parlay this into a competitive advantage. Individuals who are effective communicators, use this to propel their careers forward. In this last part of my series on becoming a better communicator, I give five final tips on effective communication.

  1. Build a bridge. Too often in our communications, we are on one side of the topic, and the other person is on the other side. The gap between the two sides, at first, may seem insurmountable. However, if you build a bridge on the commonalities between the two positions, you’ll soon find the two of you can meet in the middle. To become a better communicator, start with points the two of you agree upon, or things you have in common, and build from there.

  2. Know where you want to finish, at the start. Before going into any important communication, know what results you want to happen as an outcome. Without a clear objective in your mind, for what you’d like to achieve, you may communicate with others and get nothing substantial accomplished. This end goal should help direct the flow of the conversation and help ensure you don’t get off track. This isn’t just effective communication, it’s efficient communication!

  3. Be mindful of YOUR body language. In Part 2 of this series, we talked about the importance of watching the other person’s body language, to help gauge how they’re feeling during the conversation. If you’d like to become a better communicator, watch your own body language as well. Although the other person may not consciously be watching your body language, they may subconsciously get messages you don’t intend by your folded arms or distracted wandering gaze. This can inadvertently put them in a defensive mood.

  4. Sometimes you win by losing. Remind yourself that you do not have to “win” every point in the discussion. Sometimes the other person really does have a valid point you did not consider or did not consider fully. Effective communicators don’t get tied up in always trying to be “right.” Instead, remember that it’s OK to say, “I hadn’t thought of that. I think your correct.” and then move forward in the communication. Ceding points of an argument will help the communication move forward, and likely we make the other person more receptive to your other thoughts and ideas, since you were willing to accept one of their own.

  5. Check your emotions at the door. Leaving emotions out of your communications is probably one of the most difficult things effective communicators do. It’s natural to “feel” things when discussing important, heated or controversial topics. However, the moment you get emotional during the communication, it is more likely that the emotions on the other side of the conversation will escalate. If you feel yourself feeling frustrated, angry or vulnerable during a conversation, take a break. Suggest that you both take five minutes and come back with a fresh perspective on the communication. You’ll get far more accomplished than turning a conversation into a heated exchange that may do more harm than good!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.


Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.

~ Gilbert Amelio
President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corp.

If you’ve ever felt like people simply aren’t listening or understanding what you’re saying, read on! Communicating effectively is critical in both our personal and professional lives. In this second part of our series on becoming a better communicator, we’ll explore five more tips on effective communication.

  1. Be mindful of your tone. Effective communication is not only about what you say, but how you say it. This is especially true during communications that are more stressful or are centered on controversy. Be assertive, but not aggressive in your tone, if your message comes from an authoritative position. Always remain calm and collected, even when things get heated, and ensure your tone is respectful and cooperative. Remember the old saying is true – “You get more flies with honey than vinegar.”
  2. Be an active listener. If you’d like to become a better communicator, be an active listener. Effective communication isn’t just about speaking, it’s also about listening. Although you don’t want to interrupt the other person while they’re speaking, nod in agreement or make small sounds of agreement as they talk, to let them know you are on the same page and are fully engaged with what they are saying. If they feel like you’ve given them your full attention, they are more likely to repay you in kind.
  3. Listen to body language. If the other person is sitting there with their arms and legs tightly crossed, this is a defensive and closed position. Chances are, whatever you say while they’re in this mind set will not be met receptively. Instead, talk about less important topics, until they open up and are warmer to the ideas you wish to share. If they yawning or distracted, chances are they are bored and not paying attention. Get them actively involved in the conversation to reel them back in.
  4. Mirror, mirror. Mirroring involves mimicking another person’s body gestures, when you socially interact with them. When they cross their legs, you cross your legs. If they lean forward, you lean forward. If they nod their head, you nod your head. Although mirroring the other person will not directly help you be a better communicator, it can help the other person feel more comfortable with you and open up. We like people who are like us!
  5. Don’t forget the humor. Humor… appropriate humor… can really help you get your message across, while also helping lower some of the walls the listener may have up. Everyone likes to laugh. Even a small chuckle can help release tension between communicating parties. Effective communicators know that a little bit of humor can also keep things into perspective, especially during stressful communications.

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.


The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

~ George Bernard Shaw

Effective communication – we all know it’s important, but it’s also one of the things we most often take for granted. We think we’ve expressed ourselves clearly, and we think we’ve heard what the other person is saying. However, if you ask two people what was exactly said during a conversation, you’ll likely get two different accounts of the communication that occurred! Following are seven tips to becoming a better communicator.

  1. Be receptive. Effective communication is a two-way street. Try to enter any communication with an open mind about what the other person is going to say or how they’re going to react to what you say. Try not to let expectations bias what you hear or how you respond.

  2. Start positive –  Stay positive. Sometimes communications are challenging or even controversial. Try not to go into a communication with a negative attitude. Instead, tell yourself things WILL work out for the best. People WILL be receptive to what you say. The outcome WILL be positive. Focus on the positive aspects of the message you’re sharing, not the negative. This positive attitude from the beginning, and throughout the communication, even if things get heated, will help you keep your cool under fire.

  3. Listen with an ear for subtext. Oftentimes, people don’t say exactly what they mean. “Beating around the bush” or expecting others to “read between the lines” is all too common. For effective communication, try to be aware of the subtext in what others are saying. On the flip side, to become a better communicator, be direct. Don’t expect others to be able to figure out your subtext.

  4. Eye contact is important. I’m not staying you should aggressively stare down the other person, but keeping eye contact is important when communicating. It helps reassure the other person that you are listening to what they’re saying.

  5. Take turns. Don’t interrupt when the other person is talking, unless it is extremely important. Also, don’t monopolize the conversation on your end. It’s easy to get caught up in your message, but if you want to be a better communicator, listen more than you speak. If you see others eyes starting to glaze over as they zone out and tune you out, it means you’ve been talking too long!

  6. Accept criticism. Not everyone is going to agree with what you say; however, to get your point across and help sway their opinion, you must accept their criticism of your ideas. Try to appreciate why they’re against your position, put yourself in their shoes, and acknowledge that what they’re feeling and thinking has validity. Then rationally explain why you feel your point of view is more appropriate, despite their concerns.

  7. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Don’t assume that you’ve heard what the other person has said and interpreted it correctly. Instead, clarify what they’ve told you. Repeat their ideas and information back to them. Ask questions of the speaker, to ensure you’re both on the same page. To be a better communicator, head off miscommunication by clarifying and be certain you’re both on the same page!

About Colleen Kettenhofen, Leadership Expert

CREDENTIALS: Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace and employee management expert, award-winning corporate trainer, and conference keynote speaker. A media veteran, she has appeared on numerous radio shows around the country and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. Colleen has delivered more than 1,100 entertaining programs in 48 states and five countries. She is the author of 10 published audio programs and two books including SECRETS YOUR BOSS ISN’T TELLING YOU.

Colleen Kettenhofen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions, and seminars by calling (623)340-7690.