Communication is a key component in all our lives, and in many different formats. We communicate numerous times a day, no matter how solitary our life might be sometimes. We communicate with the cashier at the grocery store, our spouse as they leave for work, our children as we help them with their daily tasks, with the telemarketer who calls us on the phone, with the client we are emailing regarding a work task. We communicate at home, at work, in the car, at the store, over and over, wherever we go. Even if we do not say a word, we are communicating with others. Because of this, being attentive to how we communicate with others will really have a far reaching effect on our lives and that of others. Here are some key skills that will enhance your communication skills:
- Be mindful of your tone of voice and your articulation while you are speaking. We convey a great deal through tone of voice, and often we don’t realize it. It is easy to convey our impatience with a situation when we don’t mean to, or to allow our frustrations in one area to affect how we are heard in another situation. Practice saying basic information in different tones and with different levels of articulation clarity and listen to the difference. You may be surprised at how different your message sounds. It is even better to record yourself doing this exercise so you can go back and listen more objectively.
- Work on being open minded and empathetic. It is very easy to listen to respond rather than to really listen. Try to stop that voice of response in your head and listen in an open manner to your communication partner. While you may have very different viewpoints, even viewpoints that are opposed, it is always beneficial to consider other thoughts and opinions. You don’t have to change your mind, but you may find that your understanding of the world and others is enhanced and enriched.
- Be an active listener. Everyone wants to be heard. When you lean forward, nod your head, give responses, you are telling your communication partner that you are involved and interested in what they have to say. Respond and draw out your partner with open ended questions when possible. Your body language as well as your words engages you in conversation.
- Be prepared to deal with conflict and disagreement in a positive manner. This is a skill that is not much practiced some days. Our world is richer because we do have different viewpoints and values, and often we find we disagree with others’ thoughts and opinions. Of value is listening and providing interaction without causing strife. Control emotional responses and respond respectfully. A good communication, even on challenging issues, can be a benefit to all when we present our different viewpoints respectfully, and also agree to disagree without taking it as a personal affront.
- Present your information clearly and concisely. You will be more comfortable communicating on a topic you are well informed on. But it is also difficult to refrain from the use of jargon or going on in great detail on a topic you are passionate about. Keep your input concise and straightforward, and embellish as you are asked. You don’t want to put off your listener to the point where they cannot hear your message.
Communication is an art, and often can be referred to as a dance. It is an interaction and a skill. Which means that we can improve and enhance our communication skills, which will also affect our relationships with those around us. Keep an eye on what you can do, how you can present yourself, how you can communicate well with others. And your relationships will be well rewarded.