Effective Communication

Nonprofit Insurance Program

Effective Communication

5 Areas of Effective Communication

Effective Communication is a skill that is learned through practice and includes five key areas which play a major role for nonprofit organizations:

  1. Listening– The most important part of communication is learning to listen with a purpose. Focus on the individual speaking to you and don’t allow other people or things to distract you while listening. Listen for the real meaning or main point of what the person is saying. Make sure your body language is accepting. Don’t prejudge.
  2. Body language– This is the nonverbal way we communicate. Body language can tell feelings which may not be stated verbally. Watch the person’s gestures and body language during your conversation.
  3. Understanding– Confirm what the person has said by repeating back what your heard in your own words to make sure you understand what they are saying. Ask questions if you do not understand or need further clarification.
  4. Empathy– Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to understand how they feel.
  5. Responding– Only after you have listened attentively and understand what the other person is communicating should you respond. When responding do not become emotional or defensive, and do not try to control or manipulate the person. Look at it as an opportunity to learn. Be careful of your own body language. Look the person in the eye and assure that you have their attention. Keep an even, calming tone in your voice. Begin by clarifying your understanding of their situation, ask questions that may help them deal with the situation, and when offering advice make it constructive, not degrading.

Fine Tune Your Telephone Skills

Often times as directors of nonprofit organizations, you need to communicate with volunteers, employees, or members of the community via telephone. Communicating effectively is just as important on the telephone even though you are unable to see who you are speaking to. You cannot read or communicate using body language, making what we say and how it’s said very important.

Always remain calm, courteous, and professional on the telephone. When answering the phone, always give your name and the name of the nonprofit organization. Use the previous communication skills listed above. Keep in mind that how you come across to the caller can be influenced by your body language. Make careful notes including date, time, name of the caller, and return telephone number. See that the note is delivered to the appropriate party in a timely manner. What may not seem important to you can be important to the director, volunteer, or other party the message is for. Take great care in relaying sensitive or confidential information. Never repeat this information as you may be in violation of privacy rights if you do.

Outgoing calls should be treated the same as incoming calls; always introducing yourself and the full name of the nonprofit organization. Careful note taking is also necessary. Be sure to plan for the outgoing call in advance, making certain that you have all information at hand before making the call.

Communication is a key component in our daily lives, both personally and in business. By implementing the above guidelines in your nonprofit organization, relationships with volunteers, employees, and the community will grow in a positive manner and continue to become stronger as time progresses. Strong relationships help to keep nonprofits on the map and there to help their communities.

Download a complete copy of Communicating Effectively for Nonprofits.

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