In the words of Anthony Robbins, "The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives." Communication, verbal as well as nonverbal, sets the tone for all of our interactions. Think of how differently you feel when someone approaches you with a smile and a compliment as opposed to a frown and a complaint.

Here are three easy-to-incorporate standards offered by John Maxwell in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

1) Be consistent. It's incredibly frustrating when someone says one thing one day and something different the next (when there has been no intervening variables to cause a change). Over time, this inconsistency in the messages you're sending leads people to not trust what you have to say. So if you want to be taken seriously and earn credibility as a leader and a strong communicator, you have to be consistent in the messages you send to others.

2) Be clear. While a song and dance routine may be entertaining, it's not necessarily the most effective way to communicate your message. When you want to be heard, make sure that the messages you're sending are clear, understandable, and straightforward. Some people try to impress others with big, flashy words or complicated terminology, but the question you should ask yourself is: Do I want to impress, or do I want to be heard and understood? If it's the latter, toss out the flash and stick with clear messages that leave no one guessing.

3) Be courteous. Courtesy conveys respect. When someone feels respected, they're more likely to be open to hearing your message. Starting off a conversation with "You idiot," (or what happens more often--conveying "You idiot" through your body language) will immediately put people on the defensive. It's human nature. So if your goal is to be heard, "please," "thank you," and a positive tone are your best strategies.

© 2013 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved

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Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (Prometheus Books, 2011).

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