Do you want to be a better communicator? Who doesn’t?
Not all of us are blessed with an innate ability to express ourselves through words. In fact, public speaking consistently ranks as the number one fear humans have. We fear public speaking even more than death!
It’s no surprise, then, that many of us have trouble communicating well on a day-to-day basis. If you’re one of these people who really has to work hard to communicate effectively, then you know how much of a struggle it can be. Poor communication only leads to conflict and far too much drama.
So if you want to change your life and communicate more effectively without ending every conversation with an argument, then check out these ways you can become a communication expert in your own life.
1. Stop Talking About Yourself
It’s easy to forget about your audience, especially when you’re talking about yourself. The truth is, however, that talking about yourself creates a barrier between you and your audience. After a few minutes, your audience isn’t going to care anymore.
The National Criminal Justice Reference Service talks about how effective communication involves tailoring your message to your audience:
“Tailoring communication activities means understanding and identifying appropriate cultural codes reflected through the use of symbols, metaphors, and visuals, including the types of actors, spokespeople, and music with which your audience most identifies.”
Tailoring your message also involves the way in which you order your words to change an audience’s reaction to what you’re saying. Even when you’re telling a story about your own experiences, there’s no need to talk about yourself. I know; it sounds like a complete bogus piece of advice, right?
Instead, focus on your audience. What problems do they have, and how will your experiences benefit them? Frame your story in a way that focuses on your audience first, and be sure you do enough research to know who your audience is and how they will react. That includes in everyday conversations, not just in public speaking.
2. Ask Unique Questions
Mind Body Green says that not asking unique, personal questions is one of the worst mistakes you can make and can easily kill a relationship. Instead of asking, “How was your day?” ask something like, “What did you do during your free time today?”
A simple question like, “How was your day?” is so common that it becomes insincere over time. Plus, it’s too easy to reply with, “Eh, it was okay,” without any room to elaborate.
Asking more specific questions gets people to open up more. Be sure you switch up your questions each time you encounter the same person; this will prevent you from sounding insincere.
3. Limit Your Words
Do you tend to over explain yourself and fill your conversation or emails with nothing but fluff? You’re not the only one, but now is the perfect time to break this habit. One of the best ways to improve your communication skills is to be brief but specific.
Whenever you’re typing out an email or wondering what to say in a phone message, make an effort to limit your words. It will save you time and effort, and people will love you for it.
Then, choose only the most important information to share. If you think you have to explain yourself on something, you probably don’t.
Be sure there’s room to include a call-to-action or closing statement. In an email, something like, “I look forward to hearing back from you,” is a good option.
4. Don’t Talk Bull
Susan Adams says on Forbes.com that if you want to communicate effectively in the workplace, then there’s no place for bull.
“If you have bad news to deliver, lay it out plainly. . . It is far better to be straight with them than not to communicate at all, even if you can’t give them the answers they’d like.”
When you try to beat around the bush, it only wastes time and annoys people. You can be straightforward without compromising your emotions or hurting other people’s feelings, so don’t be afraid to face difficult conversations head-on.
Definitely don’t avoid the situation. That will only prevent communication on all levels.
5. Shut Up for a Minute
Listening effectively is one of the key components to great communication. As Wright State University reports:
“Research has found that by listening effectively, you will get more information from the people you manage, you will increase others’ trust in you, you will reduce conflict, you will better understand how to motivate others, and you will inspire a higher level of commitment in the people you manage.”
Even if you think you’re an effective communicator, chance are you only listen at 25 percent efficiency, reports Wright State University. So just sit back and start listening for a moment before you interject with your opinion.
But shutting up does more than just making you a better listener. It also:
- Keeps you from interrupting.
- Prevents you from finishing other people’s sentences.
- Gives you a chance to evaluate your body language so that it’s fit for the situation.
- Allows you to think about what the other person is feeling.
- Gives you a chance to really understand your own argument and adjust your thoughts before you start speaking.
Do you think that you’re an effective communicator? If not, how will you apply the above-mentioned tips?
Featured photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via farm6.staticflickr.com