We asked Annie some questions about the value of communication. Here are her responses:

How do you ensure effective communication?

I try to go into every interaction assuming the best about people and their intentions. I think that’s essential to effective communication. And if you have some sort of history or baggage that is shading your view on a topic before a conversation even starts, be honest and vocal about that struggle so you can work through it with the person or people involved.

Why is communication so important, especially during this time?

I think authentic communication is what’s important. I think a lot of people are feeling that they don’t need more meetings or more conversations right now. They need more authenticity, true connection, and care. That doesn’t mean you have to have it all figured out or an agenda in order to start a conversation, but I think it means you should look for cues to dig deeper and ask questions beyond just the surface to foster authentic conversation. I also think this new reality means we have to get comfortable with being quiet with others. I’m trying to get better about this—don’t meet every awkward silence with filler, fake cheer, or an assumption that the conversation is over. I hope we can learn to wait it out a bit and let people speak up when they are comfortable or have something valuable to contribute.

Any advice or quick tips for those who want to be better communicators?

Ask good questions. My inquisitive (and sometimes skeptical 😊) nature has served me well in every area of my life. If you aren’t naturally curious this may take more of a push, but people are excited to share what they know, their thoughts and motivations. Your involvement in those conversations—even when you yourself may know or contribute very little—builds a connection between you, the people you communicate with, and the subjects covered. Over time that weaves into a fabric of relationships and knowledge that equates to trust from others and confidence in yourself.