I have spent a good deal of energy developing my ability to communicate with others. I have spoken to thousands of people (sometimes at once), conducted countless one-on-one meetings for purposes that range from pastoral counseling to sales appointments, and I am a father and husband. Much of my life has been – as has yours – spent communicating with others.

I would like to offer to you today, what I consider to be the two greatest tools for successful and effective communication.

1. Listening – the saying had been offered “You have two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much as you talk.” Am I listening? Here’s an exercise I find helpful. After you have had a conversation with someone, write down everything you can remember about them and what they said. It might surprise you how little you heard. The art of suspending internal commentary in preparation for speaking in order to hear what is being said – is an art often under developed. Try listening and then repeating what you are hearing for confirmation.

2. Questions – there is a lost skill among us; the ability to ask a quality question. Ask people about themselves, what they would like to achieve, why they are here, what their goals are or just what they plan to do today. These and any number of countless questions are the key to understanding and setting a stage for sound communication.

Your turn! What helps you succeed in communication?