Listen attentively. Communicating with others is as much about listening as it is about talking. When you listen closely to another person, you learn about his needs and views on life. Learning about the person you are talking to allows him to feel understood and leads to more effective communication.
Gather information. When a person comes from a different culture or background, she may speak in a way that does not resonate with you. Even if you speak the same language, she may be from a different region that uses different terminology or speaks more rapidly. Learn more about her culture or background to improve your ability to converse with her.
Ask for clarification. If a person speaks rapidly, uses unfamiliar words or leaves out important information, ask him questions. He may be accustomed to people who speak just as quickly or technically and might be unaware of your confusion. Asking for clarification will also show him that you are listening.
Speak clearly. Use language that others will understand. Avoid mumbling or using unfamiliar lingo. This is especially important when speaking to people of different cultural backgrounds, ages, professions and personalities.
Confirm that your message is being understood. Watch your listener’s body language. Look for signs that she understands what you are saying. A furrowed brow and other body language indicating confusion or disinterest are reasons to slow down or speak more clearly.
Appreciate the differences. Being able to talk to anyone means sincerely appreciating diverse beliefs and cultures. For example, you might notice that the family near you at the park is dancing to music from a different culture. To break the ice, you might ask them for the name of the instrument, artist or song.