All we’ve wanted to do since we’ve been a baby is make a connection with another human. If you thought it was hard when all you could do was babble, it can still be a challenge as an adult. It doesn’t matter what career path you’re on, your communication skills will be tested. Those skills may just determine whether you move up or stay put. Here are a few tips to improve your communication skills.
Listen Up. You may think that communication means you should do all the talking. But the key is in listening. Save your judgment until the other person has been heard. You don’t have to be ready to respond right away. Stephen Covey says, “seek first to understand.” Pause and listen without thinking what you’re going to say next. Repeat what they’ve said to ensure you have understanding.
You’re a Ventriloquist. You constantly give and receive wordless signals in your body language. Your facial expressions, posture, gestures and eye contact are often saying more than your verbals. Give your attention to the person with good eye contact. Show that you’re listening with good nonverbal gestures, such as an occasional head nod or uncrossed arms. Think about your nonverbal cues as you’re speaking.
Stay Present. If you’re not ready for the conversation because of other distractions, it will only cause problems. Ask to defer the conversation so you can both be emotionally available. Then, understand why you’re trying to communicate in the first place. There’s no need to bring up the past as it does nothing but confuse the issue at hand. If you’re having a difficult conversation, focus on “I Statements” that remove any accusatory tone.
Communication is often to blame for many issues. Be the one that makes a difference and practice good communication skills. Accept responsibility for poor communication, apologize and now the real communication can begin.