Have you been in a conversation with someone when you suddenly realize she is either disconnected or distracted? How did you feel? Nothing busts motivation and trust faster than a disengaged listener.

When we give our focus and energy to others, we offer them the sacred gifts of our time and attention. Let’s make our gifts count! Are you ready to experience clear, consistent communication? If so, follow these seven easy steps to improve your interpersonal communication skills.

1.  Before beginning a conversation or meeting, put your phone away. Even laying the phone on the table can be distracting to you and others. It gives the impression you are splitting your attention between the person you are talking to and your phone. Be respectful and give your companion your full attention.

2.  When in a conversation, maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to. Consistent eye contact keeps you connected. You’ll be perceived as interested and available.

3.  Watch your body language. Are you sitting or standing, leaning forward or back? Are your arms crossed or are you in a comfortable open posture? How about the person you are talking to? Are they in a receptive position? If not, what can you adjust on your side to make her more comfortable?

4.  LISTEN when someone is talking. Don’t busily compose a response in your head when you should be listening. Focus all your energy on actively listening to what is being said. Lean in, keeping eye contact. Give your companion your attention, time and thoughts.

5.  When someone else is talking, it’s your turn to be quiet. Don’t talk over someone, assuming what they are going to say. Doing so instantly shuts down productive conversation.  Instead, refocus your mind to listen.  It’s a skill you develop with practice.

6.  Maintain awareness of the current conversation topic. When it is your turn to speak, be intentional. Pause to think about what you plan to say before you speak.

7.  Be honest. Don’t alter the truth to satisfy your ego. When people trust us enough to ask for our help, they need us to be honest. This means responding appropriately when asked a specific question. If you don’t know something, admit it. Don’t try to fake it with someone who trusts you. You immediately lose integrity.

Communication skills are used every day, yet remain one of the most underdeveloped set of tools in our entrepreneurial toolbox. Our ability to communicate effectively is critical to success, personally and professionally. Practicing these steps can lead to conversational excellence in all areas of life!