All day long we’re communicating verbally and non-verbally with the people around us. Are you sending the people around you the right message?
Your communication skills can help you land a new job, promotion, friend, spouse, someone’s trust, etc. So, they should be in tip top shape! I noticed my communication skills sucked when I was in college. It took one Organizational Communications class to make me realize that I was totally lacking in my skills. Eye contact…what? Since better communication skills make for better relationship and better outcomes, I made it a point from then on to focus on being a better communicator. Years later, these skills have become second nature to me and have not only improved my relationships, they’ve also improved my confidence! So, here you go, my five guiding principles for better communication:
1. Make eye contact. I used to be terrible at making eye contact when I talked with someone, it made me terribly uncomfortable. The problem is, when you don’t make eye contact, the person you’re speaking with doesn’t have any way of knowing that you’re listening or paying attention to them. Eye contact conveys confidence to the other party and interest in what they are saying! Eye contact is a powerful thing I tell ya!
2. Watch your body language. Eye contact is a part of your non-verbal communication, but the other facial expressions and gestures you make are just as important. One way to appear more inviting to someone you’re speaking with is to match their body language. Lean in to the conversation, smile when they smile, frown when they frown. Keep a warm neutral face. If I agree with what they are saying, I nod my head, etc. It’s important to make sure that your gestures match your thoughts and the conversation. You can say you agree, but if you’re making subtle side eyes and eye rolls, it’s pretty much a dead giveaway you don’t feel the same. Non-verbal communication also shows the other party that you’re listening and engaging in the conversation with them. When someone has a straight, no emotion, face when they’re talking to you, isn’t it confusing? Don’t be that confusing person, engage in the conversation with your non-verbal cues.
3. Think before you speak. I learned pretty early on to watch what I say. Sometimes a thought is ugly or not well thought out and once you speak it out, you can’t take it back. No amount of apologies or explanations can take away the feelings the other person had when you made the first statement. Words are powerful and forever. Remember that.
4. Be clear. Say what you mean and don’t play games. No, this doesn’t mean just word vomit all of your thoughts, but if you have something you want to say to someone and it’s been well thought out, just say it. Don’t play little games or drop hints hoping someone will get the point, there is a good chance they won’t.
5. Don’t make excuses. When you screw up, apologize, find the solution and move on. No one likes excuses. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes so it’s bound to happen from time to time. However, an apology is always better than an excuse.
Communication is powerful and can influence so much of your life. Are you practicing to be a better communicator?
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