Make no mistake: your ability to communicate with clarity, courage and commitment is your number one key to success at work and in your personal life. No matter how innovative your ideas, how sincere your feelings or how passionate your beliefs, if you fail to connect with other people and communicate in a way that persuades, inspires or motivates them, your efforts are going to be in vain.

You’re never not communicating. Whether you’re in a deep sleep, in a heated debate with a colleague or in a text-a-thon with a friend, in today’s world of 24/7 communication you’re always sending and receiving messages. Some people are outstanding communicators, listening for understanding in addition to conveying their own clear intentions, whereas others struggle to connect with their own message as well as with other people.

Great communication leads to understanding, intimacy and mutual appreciation. The good news is that you can develop and successfully apply communication skills, as long as you’re willing to commit to the process and practise. As my father used to say, communication works for those who work at it.

If you want to be recognised as a committed and effective communicator, you need to concentrate and absorb the messages that people convey to you. As well as noticing the spoken words themselves, pay attention to the way the words are delivered. For example, does the speaker’s voice rise at the end of a statement, making it sound like a question? Is ...

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