Even though communication skills are vital in our personal and professional lives, we rarely receive instruction or opportunities to improve them.
If you are a great communicator, you’ll be able to get your message across more quickly, boost your productivity and improve the performance of your team.
You’ll never lose time repeatedly communicating the same message or hold meetings that are ineffective.
Have a look at these five tips to help you become a better communicator.
1. Be Aware of Your Weak Points
Effective communication is most often spontaneous — you cannot count on a universal formula for communication. It’s important, however, that you spot the moments when you really need to focus on your communication style.
When you’re experiencing intense emotions or you’re under stress, expect yourself to make communication mistakes or lapse into patterns of behavior that will significantly limit your options.
If your mind is somewhere else or you’re multitasking and unable to focus, your communication will suffer as well — you’ll miss out on all the non-verbal cues sent by your conversation partner.
Confusing body language is another key feature that prevents clear communication – if your body language says one thing and your verbal language says another, you’re bound to confuse the listener or even come across as dishonest.
2. Be a Great Listener
When it comes to communication, listening to others really pays off — great listeners will not only be able to understand what the other person is saying but also how they feel about it, which is a great start for building a meaningful connection.
When talking, focus on the speaker — if you find it hard, repeat their words in your head to reinforce their message. Don’t interrupt them or direct the conversation toward your concerns. Communication is based on tolerance — in order to fully understand someone, you need to set your judgments aside and focus on their claims and motivations.
Remember to show your interest in what the other person is saying by giving them an occasional nod or smile. Your posture should be relaxed and inviting — encourage the speaker with your body language.
If you experience a moment of disconnect during the conversation, you can reflect on what the other person said by paraphrasing their words — “It sounds like you’re saying … ” is a good way to start.
3. Control Your Body Language
Even when you’re under stress, it’s in your best interest to have your body language in check and fully immerse yourself in the conversation. Keeping your arms crossed won’t be inviting; if your eyes are glued to your phone, the speaker won’t feel like talking to you.
Hold the eye of the speaker, assume an open position and, if you need an ego boost, adopt a power pose that will be perfect before a big talk. If you feel stressed, try to take a few deep breaths, or clench and relax your muscles.
The best strategy against stress is humor — a good joke or a funny story will instantly alleviate the tension from any conversation.
4. Avoid Using Conversation Fillers
Among the most common products of stress are conversation fillers — the “umms,” “’ahhs,” and “likes” that we use when we feel a moment of silence will come across as awkward.
In order to avoid using those conversation fillers, you must realize that all those silences feel awkward to you, but your listeners might not have a similar impression. In fact, conversation fillers make your speech much harder to follow.
Start to keep track of moments when you use those fillers — detecting the context will help you to work on avoiding them in the future. You can wear an elastic band on your wrist and every time you catch yourself saying “umm,” shift the band to your other wrist. You’ll train your brain to notice those fillers and omit them.
5. Repeat and Ask Questions
Doing this will show the other person that you really care about what they have to say and that you’re actively searching for better ways to understand them. You’ll also be able to clarify any misunderstandings.
Asking questions is your best method for conducting every kind of conversation, including small talk. Ask the other person a question and then be engaged with their answer. In this case, it’s better to be interested, rather than interesting.
Being a great communicator has many perks — you’ll find collaborating with others easier, people will like to talk to you, and you’ll build an image for yourself as an interesting and insightful person who knows how to listen and what to say in every situation. Follow the tips listed above to gain full control over your communication style.
(Photo by Melvin Gaal / CC BY)