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10 Ways To Develop Good Communication

10 Ways To Develop Good Communication

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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