There are many pieces to a successful negotiation or mediation but a critical one is communication. You need to effectively communicate your client’s goals and positions and take steps to try to get the other party to see things your way. Part of that communication is also effectively listening to the other party, understanding what the person is communicating verbally and non-verbally. Inc. magazine had a recent article listing steps which could improve your communication skills.

  1. Speak to groups as individuals.

Develop a level of intimacy that makes each person feel as if you’re speaking directly to him or her. Eliminate the distractions of the crowd so you can deliver your message as if you were talking to a single person. Be emotionally genuine and show the same feelings, energy and attention that you would if speaking just to one person.

  1. Talk so others will listen.

Read your audience so you aren’t wasting your time with a message that they aren’t ready to hear. Adjust your message to stay with your audience. Going on and on so you’ve said what you wanted to say won’t do you any good. You need to engage people in a meaningful exchange of ideas so your message has a better chance of sticking with them. If good questions are asked you’re on the right track.

  1. Listen so people will talk.

Effective communication is not a one-way street. Others need an opportunity to speak their minds. When they do speak stop everything else and listen fully until the other person has finished. Stay in the moment, pick up on the verbal and physical cues the other person is sending and make it clear that you are hearing what is being said.

  1. Connect emotionally.

Whatever you say won’t have much of an impact if people don’t connect with it on an emotional level. Don’t try to project a certain image. Be transparent. Show them what drives you and what you care about. Expressing feelings openly may result in an emotional connection with the audience.

  1. Read body language.

A wealth of information is contained in body language. The body communicates nonstop, unconsciously and is a source of information. Watch body language during meetings and conversations.

  1. Prepare your intent.

A little preparation can go a long way to having a conversation that achieves your intended impact. Develop an understanding of what you want the focus of a conversation to be and how you will accomplish this. You will be more persuasive and on point if you prepare ahead of time.

  1. Skip the jargon.

Jargon in an industry is so over used as to be meaningless. It can alienate listeners and they will tune you out. Use jargon sparingly if you must or you’ll come across as insincere.

  1. Practice active listening.

Active listening ensures people feel heard which is an essential component of good communication. To listen actively,

  • Spend more time listening than you do talking.
  • Don’t answer questions with questions.
  • Don’t finish other people’s sentences.
  • Focus more on others than yourself.
  • Focus on what people are saying, not on what their interests may be.
  • Reframe or repeat what’s been said to make sure you understand him or her correctly.
  • Think about what you’ll say after someone has finished speaking, not while he or she is speaking.
  • Ask questions.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t take notes.

Effective communication takes time and practice. Work on one or a few of these suggestions at a time. You won’t be able to improve with all of them simultaneously. Improving your communication skills is a work in progress and it will improve as you put time and energy into it.

Steve Mehta is a professional full-time mediator who specializes in mediating complex and emotional cases. A leading Los Angeles mediator, Mr. Mehta has been repeatedly selected as a Super Lawyer in mediation and is highly regarded by both sides to mediation. To schedule mediations, please visit SteveMehta.com