Even if you’ve already broken all your new year’s resolution, it’s not to late to try a new one: improve your communication skills. To help, here are five things to think about when communicating almost anything.

1)   Audience. Who are you communicating with and what’s their point of view? Whether advertising a new dish soap or calling your brother about bringing his dog to a wedding, what you say will be best received if you consider the circumstances, attitudes and interests of your audience, and tailor your message accordingly.

2)    Desired Outcome. What is your objective? Updates and FYI’s seem reason enough to communicate. However, more effective communication is driven by the desire to change a behavior or attitude. Are you trying to warn? Prepare? Encourage? Convince? Entice? Dissuade? Thinking through your motivation and marrying it with the recipient’s point of view creates a higher impact message.

3)    Framing. Being transparent about why and what you’re communicating helps people relax and receive what you say more easily. Tell them what you’re going to talk about and why.

4)    Tonality. Tone and pace impact how your message will be received. If your speech is fast or your writing hurried and brusque, your recipient is likely to tense up, and not hear you. SHOUTING also puts people on the defensive. Yet sweetly and serenely whispering “fire” is less likely to set off the appropriate alarm bells in an emergency.

5)    Listening. Fifty percent of communication is listening. Setting aside your own agenda and truly hearing, with curiosity, what others enhances the effectiveness of your interaction. It also builds relationships that improves future encounters. If you’re doing more than half the talking, it’s probably time to zip it!

Practicing better communication is easy since we spend so much time doing it. Taking the time to hone your skills is time well spent, no matter who you’re talking to. What else helps you communicate well? Leave your comments below.