For one person, communication might represent personal connection. For another, it might be a simple transfer of information. We all give different meaning to what communication is for us.
There are also different methods of communicating that are happening simultaneously. There is body language, personal energy, the words we use, how we use our voice etc.
Regardless of the meaning you give it or what your style is, you should realize that you are communicating at all times—even if you don’t know it.
Here are 10 proven techniques I’ve used to help people develop good communication and awareness across the board:
1. Start with being present.
We are distracted—by everything! Recent statistics show the average attention span is as low as eight seconds and dropping. Thoughts and stresses, iPhones, TV, Internet, newspaper and magazine headlines are all competing for our attention and they are winning. Realize that the present moment is all you really have. Know that at this moment, you are planting a seed for the future. Distraction leaves openings for miscommunication. Start with being present to what is in front of you.
2. Check your tone.
Like most of us, you may not even be aware of how you sound to someone. Voice tone and delivery are a big part of our communication, so bring awareness to it. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Tone can make the difference between being perceived as caring or condescending.
3. Know your desired outcome.
Before you engage in any communication, be aware of what it is that you want. Rather than getting caught up in reaction, be proactive. Sometimes you may need to take a beat to bring some awareness to your ultimate outcome. Great relationships make everything easier for you. And in order to develop great relationships, you must have good communication. In other words, pay attention to your ultimate desire and not just each interaction.
4. Create commonalities.
You will get further, faster, when you find ways to relate to each other. Look for similarities in anything. Even in relationship conflicts, relate to someone from experience and open up to show that you are like them. People like other people who are like them.
5. Mirror body language to build rapport.
Just like a mirror reflects the object in front of it, you can do the same in order to develop another form of good communication. This technique is called mirroring. What this does is subconsciously create a commonality or likeness between you and the person you are communicating with. Don’t make it obvious, but subtly start to emulate their body language from breathing pattern to positioning to eye movements.
6. Buffer criticisms with positives.
Developing good communication skills means knowing how to deliver information. When in a position where you are critiquing someone, always lead the criticism with a positive acknowledgment. This opens the person up to you and shows them that you care. Deliver the critique and follow it by more positive praise.
7. Stay on top of it.
Don’t leave things hanging. Effective communicators make people feel secure. Create ease by circling back and closing any gaps. Developing good communication means that you not only communicate clearly, but are the owner and in charge of whatever you are communicating. No one wants to feel like the other person has dropped the ball.
8. Engage with hooks.
Engage people by speaking to what will somehow benefit them. This is referred to as a hook. The more you are aware of someone’s needs, the more people are open to you and will better receive you. Find a hook that grabs attention, then proceed.
9. Listen to understand.
We tend to listen for the next opportunity to speak. Even if the person you are communicating with doesn’t consciously see that, they will feel it. Instead, listen to really understand what someone is saying. If you don’t know, ask in a way that shows you are interested in where they are coming from.
10. Pick up on cues.
Knowing when to approach someone, when to wrap up a conversation, or how to deliver information will help you become an effective communicator. Always pay attention to who is receiving your message. Is it a good time? Are they open? Are they in the best mood to hear what you have to say? These are cues to pay attention to. Before you initiate communication, make sure it will be heard.