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Why Care About Effective Communication?

It’s a way to show you value the person you are speaking to.

Better communication = Fewer mistakes = Higher efficiency

The key to effective communication is: #LLBT

👂#Listen  🔍#Look  💨#Breathe   💬#Talk

There are many levels on how to practice #LLBT for effective communication.

What I describe here is Level 1.


Step 1: The goal of #Listen👂(Level 1) is to accurately hear the words the other person says.

That means: You understand what the other person is trying to say to you.

It does not mean: You parrot back the exact same words and re-define it for them.

How do you listen to understand what the other person is trying to say when people use the same words to mean different things?

🔁 A great exercise is to learn how to repeat what the other is saying:

The first level of repetition is verbatim repetition.

You try to repeat what the other person said word for word.

The second level is summarizing what the other person said.

You have to try different ways of summarizing until the person who said it says, “yes, that’s what I said.”


Step 2: The goal of #Look 🔍 (Level 1) is to look for visual cues that may help your communication.

Caution: Visual cues are tricky. Personal bias shows up quite strongly in the way people interpret visual information and it is one of the most culturally sensitive areas. Please keep that in mind as you read along!

One of the most basic things is how steadily they hold their eyes. 👀

This is a good thing to focus on especially when talking to someone through video. 📲

Someone’s eye movements tell a lot about their mood.

But watch out: Whether someone looks into your eyes or not is very cultural.

One way to get around this bias is by focusing on how steadily someone holds their gaze.

If someone is calm and relaxed, their gaze will be focused, but not completely still.

If they are an obsessive type or hyper-focused in the moment, the gaze will be laser sharp and stiff.

If they are nervous or uncomfortable, they will shift their eyes a lot or look busy.

What cues do you look for when talking to someone?


Step 3: The goal of #Breathe 💨 (Level 1) is to build in a structure to take a moment before you start talking.

Breathing before you talk gives you that space to:

-Collect your thoughts;

-Calm down;

-Focus to clarify your message; and

-Adjust the pace of the conversation

There are many things you want to do before starting to respond, but if you are the type that just reflexively starts talking, begin by asking yourself: “Would I be heard if I say this now?” “Would what I am about to say have the intended effect?”

If you’ve been listening and looking, you will have a sense for the answer.

Other benefits to breathing before you speak:

If the conversation is getting heated or a little fast, it helps slow down that pace.

If it’s already at a good pace, it helps keep it that way.

This is especially useful in a high-stakes or uncomfortable conversations.


Step 4: The goal of #Talking💬 is to create dialogue.

“A conversation is like playing catch”–This is a common Japanese phrase describing what a good conversation looks like.

I sometimes see people who talk to persuade.

Those people tend to be the worst listeners.

But they are not just bad listeners. They are also bad persuaders.


Because no one wants to feel ignored and that’s what someone in a “persuading” mode tends to do: Ignore what the other person says.

If you want to be listened to–and you cannot persuade without being heard–you first have to listen.

The above steps 1-3 will help you in how to listen well.

Then, you are ready to venture into the next level of talking in a way that creates dialogue.


Abbie (Miyabi) Yamamoto, PhD, is the Founder of One TransLiteracy, LLC, which specializes in building effective communication strategies through conducting diversity trainings and consulting on communication strategies and international marketing materials.

Contact her at abbie[at] to learn more. (Please replace [at] with @)

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