I pride myself on being a great communicator. Over the years I have mastered the craft of communication through my experiences and practice. My communication abilities have opened up many doors of opportunity and have also gotten me out of some really uncomfortable situations.
Ever since I was a kid, I was enthusiastic about talking and connecting with others. I was extremely outgoing and did not shy away from anyone. I was involved in musical theater growing up, which helped me become comfortable speaking in front of large groups. It became easy to speak in front of anyone from any walk of life.
Now in adulthood, I have accumulated over 10 years of sales experience. During these 10 years, I work face to face with customers, each with their own unique story. It has taught me valuable skills that not only make me successful in my career, but also my personal life.
Now as a Life Coach, I specialize in communication. It is essential to be effective at my job. With clients, I model effective communication skills, which not only helps build a positive relationship with them, but also lays the groundwork for them to become excellent communicators themselves.
Now you may be asking yourself, why is communication so important? I communicate all the time. Well, of course we all communicate. It is unavoidable in the world we live in. However, we can all use more effective communication skills.
Imagine for a second that you sat down with a stranger. A person you have never met before is sitting across from you. Their body is relaxed, facing you. Their eyes meeting yours and they have the slight grin across their lips. As you begin speaking, their expression reacts to your words. They lean in toward you, curious to hear what you will say next. They don’t just hear you, they HEAR you. They are listening to the innermost part of your soul and they offer you a safe space to show it, free from judgment.
When we speak with someone who is effective at communicating, we feel good inside. We feel connected to the other person, understood. We feel comfortable taking off the mask we wear day in and day out because they see us as who we are and still accept us. That is what is happening in the scenario above.
Being effective at communication has numerous benefits. It can help you get the big promotion at work. A great communicator makes for a great leader. It also makes you more likable, relatable, and respectable among your peers. Another benefit is in relationships. Loved ones will feel a stronger bond with you. They will feel understood and loved unconditionally. They will see you as trustworthy and honest. Additionally, effective communication can benefit you on a personal level as well. It allows you to be more authentic with others. It increases confidence and self-esteem. It creates a feeling of connectedness with others and the world. Becoming a master of communication will allow you to become greater at everything you do.
People who lack effective communication skills struggle in their lives. They feel emotionally drained or emotionally overwhelmed. They struggle focusing on tasks or content that others convey to them. They often tune out of their experiences. They feel alone and misunderstood. They often have trouble trusting others and feel like they will never be good enough.
Poor communication skills can negatively affect our lives in many ways. Our work will suffer because we are less likable and trust worthy. Our coworkers will not see us as a leader and we will lack the skills to become one. Our relationships will suffer because those around us will feel that we don’t respect them. They will feel like we are distant or closed off. Important issues will go unaddressed and cause explosive arguments. And finally, we will suffer ourselves. We will feel alone and disconnected from others. We will feel like no one understands us or accepts us as who we are. We might feel unlovable.
If this sound like you in any way, then keep reading, I have some tips for you.
The good news is, effective communication isn’t a biological trait. It’s a learned behavior! And you know what that means…. That’s right! If it can be learned, it can be acquired.
Now if you are looking to become a master at communication, you will need more than just this article to get there, however, this should at least help lay the groundwork and get the ball rolling in the right direction.
Below I have listed 5 great ways to become a more effective communicator. Learn these, practice these, master these, and you will be on the path to becoming a pro at communicating.
- Body language
We often believe that words are the only component to communication, however, body language accounts for the largest part in how we communicate with others. We can convey a message by being turned away from the person, our arms are crossed, or we fidget. An effective communicator has what is called positive body language. Their body is turned toward the person they are speaking to, they are in a calm and relaxed posture, and their body is open. This allows the other person to feel comfortable, safe, and connected to them.
- Eye contact
Remaining on the topic of body language, but getting more in detail there is eye contact and physical response. Now eye contact sounds simple enough, yet most people cannot maintain eye contact with another person for more than a few seconds.
Go ahead and try it with a friend. See how long you can maintain eye contact with them until one of you laughs or breaks the contact. Looking into the eyes of another person creates a spiritual bond.
It is said, “eyes are the windows to the soul” and in a sense this is true. When someone looks into our eyes, we feel vulnerable, naked. We feel as if they can see everything about us. And by them staying there and continuing this contact, we feel accepted. Eye contact is a powerful tool in communication because it creates a bond without any words being spoken. It also allows us to listen more effectively by holding our focus.
- Physical Response
Physical response is how our body reacts to the words being spoken by the other person. Nodding when we agree with something, laughing at a joke, frowning when we are told something sad. This allows us to become emotionally congruent with the other person. By matching our physical reaction with their words, they feel understood. They know we are listening to what they are saying without us having to say anything.
- Listen to listen, not to speak
One mistake many of us make when we talk to others is we forget to listen to what they are saying. It is possible to be extremely engaged in a conversation and still suck at communicating. When we have a lot to say, we often spend the majority of the time looking for an opportunity to spit it out. As a result, we forget to listen to what the other person is saying. We still hear their words, but we aren’t actually listening to them. The trick is to focus on listening instead of speaking.
Sit with a friend and have them talk to you about anything, as long as they want. It could be one minute, it could be 10 minutes, but you are not allowed to say a word. As you do this, notice how your mind goes wild. You hear you friend say something that brings up a memory or an idea and suddenly your attention goes off elsewhere. Also, note how you have a response to a lot of what they are saying, but because you cannot speak, you hear something you otherwise wouldn’t.
By listening to listen instead of listening to speak, we hear the whole story. We get a better understanding of the person we are speaking to and they feel like you actually heard them. By truly listening to the other person, you are able to form a better response based on all the information instead of just a snippet. This builds a more productive conversation and forms trust between you and the other person.
- Be empathetic
One of the most powerful tools in the communication artillery is the ability to be empathetic. Empathy is the ability to feel something someone else experienced as if we experienced it ourselves. It is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Empathy is powerful because it opens the door to deep connections. Empathy can only occur when someone opens themselves up emotionally. They share an experience within the context of how they perceived it. Often times, we see things from our point of view. But when we allow ourselves to sit in the passenger seat of someone else’s experience, we see things in a whole new light. We feel what they feel. This is why empathy can be so powerful. When someone sees us genuinely reflecting their own experiences back to them, they feel understood. They feel that their experience is validated. This builds trust on a very deep level because it connects us to the other person on a spiritual level. They feel safe being themselves around us that is a sign of a powerful connection.
As I said before, building communication skills takes practice. It is not something we can learn overnight. But, if you are looking to build on your communication skills, this is a great place to start. Try a few of these or all of these with some close friends. Notice the difference it makes in the conversation. If you continue to implement these practices in your daily life, you will soon find that you have stronger connections, you excel at work, and you are at peace with who you are. Who knew communication could be so useful?