How many times have you found yourself thinking after a conversation or interaction with another person, “Was I as clear as I wanted to be?” Or find yourself feeling a bit insecure about the email you just sent and how it will be interpreted. Perhaps you have been at a networking event and can’t seem to understand why everyone dismisses your efforts to connect?
Wouldn’t it solve all of our communication challenges if we could channel our inner Harry Potter and simply wave a magic wand so that everything we wanted to communicate is conveyed effectively?
It’s evident that communicating in a more compelling fashion has its benefits. Besides, who wants to be forgotten?
Communication is more than just the exchange of information. It also includes emotions, actions, and intention. When I took my communications class in college the first concept the professor introduced to us was: “Communication is not what you intended to communicate but what the listener heard.” That made me so much more aware of the way I communicated. I became so obsessed with trying to control the listener’s perception of what I was saying that this later evolved into a fear of failing to do so — one of the 6 common fears among entrepreneurs and other professionals.
Since that time I’ve read, studied and practiced, practiced, practiced to improve my communication. I’ve found that communicating is indeed an ART! And you my friend have the potential to paint your way to meaningful relationships!
Allow me to break down the art of communicating with these eight simple tips.
- Be Assertive
Now is the perfect time to put your confidence to use — or at least fake it ’til you make it. No matter how you feel on the inside, powerful communication requires that you are self-assured and decisive in your approach and speech.
Notice the word is assertive, not aggressive. People often confuse assertiveness with obnoxious behavior. If you choose to remain silent in hopes that you will be perceived as more compliant, you’ll realize that the people with louder opinions will get most of the attention.
Assertive doesn’t mean you have to be troublesome or contentious. In most cases, being assertive about your opinions can show that you are serious and that you genuinely care about the work you’re doing.
You don’t have to be uncooperative to offer an opinion, and there is a fine line between caring and seeming selfish. But not inserting your thoughts or opinion is far more likely to make you seem uninterested or forgettable than to help you achieve your goals.
To resist any possible tension, be respectful and modest in the way in which you share your opinions and you’ll be respected without coming across as an aggressor.
- Be Clear & Be Yourself
Effective communication requires language that is universal and clear. When you’re conversing with other individuals it is not appropriate to use any slang, jargon or dialect, unless the other parties are familiar with that language.
It is also a good rule of thumb to limit the use of your extensive vocabulary. Don’t get so wrapped up in projecting an intelligent character that you forget to get personal.
It will create a welcoming, common ground for everyone present and prevent you from being over-looked in situations where you’re expected to make decisions based on your instincts rather than professional expertise.
- Emphasize Key Ideas
When your desire is to be remembered and you want your message to be fully received, it’s best to emphasize your key ideas. This can be done by repeating them throughout the conversation and limiting your key ideas to three. (Do-re-mi, ABC, the rule of threes).
Don’t overshare or be a conversation hog! Your ability to be brief combats any potential mistakes and trims the “fluff” around your main points which leaves the other party with the notion that you actually listened way more than you spoke.
Even if you’re making a big request, do it with fewer words, and be direct.
- Make Eye Contact
Even though, it might make you uncomfortable, connecting with your audience includes making eye contact. Engage in too much eye contact and you could be seen as an aggressor, while too little eye contact will you can be seen as having no interest in the person speaking.
It’s great to keep eye contact when talking to an individual, however, it can become a bit weird if you stare intensely at them. Break eye contact every 5 seconds or so.
When breaking the eye contact don’t look down as this might indicate anxiety or the ending of your part of the conversation. Instead, look up or to the side as if you’re remembering something.
If you’re talking to a group of people it is great to have steady eye contact with your all listeners. It’s important that you don’t only maintain eye contact with just one person as this will offend other members of the group.
To overcome this, focus on a different member of the group with each sentence. With this method, you’ll be talking to all of the group and keeping them all interested simultaneously.
There’s an old saying that goes “eyes are a reflection of your inner self”. It’s true in most cases. Eye contact, or the lack of, can express your true thoughts, emotions, and intentions.
- Have An Arsenal Of Conversation Starters
Research and be prepared for gatherings, parties, network meetings, etc. by building a handy list of conversation starters.
Since you want to be remembered, find unique and thought-provoking conversation starters that show your interest in the other person. Open-ended questions like these are a good example.
- What is something new that you learned this week?
- How did you meet [host/mutual friend/significant other]?
- Where do you see yourself in [a year/3 years/5 years/etc]?
Because the best conversation starters usually place the spotlight on the person you’re speaking to, this evokes trust and stimulates a bond.
- Keep An Open Mind
No one wants to have a conversation with someone that has no desire to hear their side of the coin.
Being open-minded requires that you show respect for the other person’s point of view even if you do not agree. Shutting someone down instantly is an immediate conversation killer. They will surely remember you but for the wrong reason.
By opening up your mind to new ideas you create an opportunity to change what you think and how you view the world. Now, this doesn’t mean you necessarily will change your beliefs, but you have the option to when you think with an open mind.
People will typically refrain from seeing the world through an open mind because of the fear of making themselves vulnerable. When you allow yourself to have an open-minded view of the world, you’re admitting you don’t know everything and that there are possibilities you may not have considered yet.
This vulnerability can actually raise the other party’s respect for you.
- Learn To Listen
Good listening is at the core of being an effective communicator.
Listening is completely different from hearing. Hearing is the act of perceiving sound in our environment. Listening is the process of understanding, being present, and being intentional with the attention given to what is being communicated.
Two-way communication seriously can’t occur until you’re actively listening to others. If you can manage to give someone your undivided attention, you can raise the level of trust and empathy way faster than any other communication skill will enable you to.
The most important aspect of this is that you can now give yourself an opportunity to formulate your thoughts before impulsively diving into your desired response, which is a crucial part of effective, result-driven communication.
- Be Aware Of Your Body Language
“60% of all communication is non-verbal, body language, 30% is your tone, so that means that 90% of what you are communicating isn’t coming out of your mouth.” — Kristen Deuzeman
Your body language, voice intonation, and use of silence will frequently send a louder message to other people than the words we do say. Communication is NOT just what comes out of your mouth but also the energy we give off.
One of the major things people notice about your body language is your posture, how a person carries and presents themselves, whether they walk or stand with confidence.
Here are some tips to improve your posture:
- Stomach in
- Chest out
- Shoulders back
- Head up.
Another key part of body language is SMILING.
A smile is an important facial expression because it shows interest, enthusiasm, and empathy. Because of its radiant energy, smiles create a positive environment.
However, don’t be enticed to overuse your smile. To obtain and strengthen respect, first establish your presence in a room, then smile afterwards. This is far more professional than to enter a room giggling or “all smiles.”
Communicating can feel daunting at times. Clear communication relies on the interpretation of your listener and when that person is someone you don’t know, you may feel like your attempting to walk in an active minefield instead of simply conveying a concept or an opinion.
Using these skills can eliminate some of your fears and assist you in developing more effective communication. Generating a sincere desire to hear and be heard is a great place to begin. Ultimately, communication is about reciprocation
First, start listening and then identify the few parts of your communication that you know you need to improve. You can’t skip steps in your journey to success. Even if your primary goal is career advancement or securing an authoritative position, you can’t ignore the need to develop effective communication skills that will push you in that direction. Slow down and commit to a plan of action that incorporates the use of these valuable skills. The sky is the limit in regards to how far great communication skills can take you.
Think you’ll need additional support and information? Connect with us and learn more about our workshops and trainings! We’d love to hear from you!
Comment below and let us know if these tips helped you!