How we communicate has a big impact on our lives. The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others. This is a process that involves both the sender and the receiver of the message. To be successful in business you must communicate well, and communicating effectively is at the heart of interpersonal skills. Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way towards helping you to create good and lasting impressions on others.
It is important to realise that it is not always what you say – but also how you say it. Nonverbal cues are very powerful, making it crucial that you pay attention to your actions as well as to the actions of those around you. You have to take into account your facial expression, your posture, your overall body language, your appearance and especially your tone of voice.
Eye contact is an important part of communication, a way to signal interest, recognition, honesty and credibility. Facial expressions and posture can also reflect attitudes and emotions.
Be careful of people’s personal space when communicating. Do not invade someone’s space by getting too close, unless you know him or her very well. Also be careful of delivering your message from too far away, as this can cause confusion and misunderstanding.
Eye contact, facial expressions, posture, gestures, clothing choices and space are some of the obvious nonverbal communication cues, but how you deliver your message is also important. Pay attention to your tone of voice and to its loudness and pitch. People can be sensitive to the way you speak, and you have to make sure that you are delivering your words in an effective manner. Your voice is powerful, and if you use it in a negative manner you will receive a negative reaction. Try to be positive and put expression in your voice rather than speaking in an uninteresting way or a monotone.
Create a Rapport
If you would like to make yourself more easily heard or understood at work, then it is essential to create a good rapport with your colleagues. By creating a good rapport with someone, you develop a connection or bond with them which makes communication a lot easier.
You can gain respect amongst your colleagues by showing that you are trustworthy, honest and reliable. This is crucial to successful relationships at work.
Anticipate and Understand
A common mistake that people make in communication is to assume that others understand what you are saying and have the same views as you do. Everyone sees the world differently and uses different forms of communication. When you realise this and take other people’s views into account, you significantly improve your communication skills.
In a conversation, either party can be misunderstood, and this causes confusion. When you are not successful in communicating, your words do not necessarily reflect your own thoughts and ideas, causing a communication breakdown and blocking the path towards your goals.
What someone says and what we hear can be surprisingly different. Our assumptions, beliefs and judgements can distort other people’s words. If you are unsure of what someone has said, then ask for more information and make sure that you both understand each other. Offering feedback is a great tool to use to verify everything you hear whilst listening. It clearly demonstrates that you are actively listening and working to improve communications.
Anticipating how another person might react to what you have to say will help in your conversation with that person. Your approach and the words you use should differ when you address different people. Getting your message across is paramount to progressing, and to do this you must understand what your message is, what audience you are delivering it to and how it will be perceived.
People can tell instantly if you are nervous or unconfident with what you are saying, by the way you say it. If you fumble your words, stutter or forget what you are saying, people will lose interest. It is vital to give the impression of professionalism and confidence, and to do this you must relax. Take some deep breaths and loosen your body before you begin your conversation.
Another good point to remember is to always think before you speak. You do not need to rush your words when talking. Take time to think about what you want to say before speaking, or about what has been said before you react to it. People can be busy and stressed, which sometimes causes them to talk too quickly and create misunderstanding. Make sure that when you have something important to say, you are calm and relaxed.
When talking to someone, it is essential that you listen to and try to understand what they have to say. Sometimes people forget to listen to others; consumed in what they have to say, they do not realise that the other person’s view of the world may be very different to their own. When you listen, try to understand the other person’s perspective and adapt your communication accordingly. You can make another person more comfortable with you by selecting and emphasising certain behaviours that fit within your personality and resonate with his or hers. In doing this you prepare yourself to becoming an active listener.
Sometimes we may find it difficult to pay attention when someone is speaking, as only a small part of our mind is listening. Our mind can drift easily and start thinking about other things. You must listen actively, however, by listening with a purpose. If you find it difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, then repeat the words in your mind as the person is saying them. This will reinforce the message, help you to control mind drift and avoid misunderstanding.
Be Positive and Confident
You can go a long way if you have a positive attitude and a happy outlook on life. Being negative is unpleasant for other people, and it gets you nowhere. If you communicate cheerfully and are sure of yourself, then others should respond well to you.
Your life can be vastly improved if you make the effort to communicate effectively. And it is not just in your working life that this is important, but in your personal life also. When dealing with family issues, such as reasoning with children or resolving arguments with your partner, you can benefit from the same communication skills you use at work.