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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 January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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