There is no area of your life that isn’t impacted by your ability to communicate. Good communicators tend to have better success on the job and thriving relationships. People who can’t express themselves well don’t.
Communication is your key to success, but how do you improve in this area? Fortunately, you don’t need to take an expensive course or dedicate hours of time to reading self-help books. Instead, apply these tips and become a better communicator right away.
Commit to Being Present
You’re trying to have an important conversation, but your mind drifts to other things. Eventually, you succumb to the temptation of your phone. That’s when you see the frustration and disappointment on the other person’s face. They had something important to tell you, and you are somewhere else entirely.
If you commit to having a conversation, commit to being fully present for it. Turn off your phone, shut your office door, and make eye contact. The same thing applies when you are communicating in writing. Read and understand. Don’t simply skim and fire off what seems like a good response.
What if you just can’t focus that way? Say so! Most people would rather talk later than have you listen half-heartedly.
Make Your Point And Move On
Nobody was ever convinced of anything through annoying repetition. Sure, you should make your point. You can even ensure you are being understood by rephrasing or paraphrasing. However, at some point, it is time to move on. Unless you have new information to add, you are no longer bringing something of value to the talk. Accept that this may not be a matter of misunderstanding, but one of simple disagreement.
If you commit to having a conversation, commit to being fully present for it
Don’t Fall Into The Empathy Trap
Someone takes the time to share a deeply personal experience with you. Naturally, you connect it to something you’ve also been through. Then, you proceed to tell them all about it. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we want to connect through shared experiences?
Not like this. When you steer the conversation towards you, it’s like snatching the microphone away from somebody. You may intend to be empathetic and to show you relate. In reality, you are just centering yourself. This happens with disappointing frequency when people are sharing with cultures that they don’t belong to.
Give other people space to share. You don’t have to fill the space with your own stories. Chances are, they aren’t as spot-on similar as you think.
Get Them to Share With Open-Ended Questions
Communication isn’t just expressive, it’s receptive. In addition to listening, you have a responsibility to draw people out. You can do this by asking questions that truly invite them to share. This shows that you are interested in connecting and learning about them, not simply speaking your mind.
Eliminate Stilted Language
Jargon and tech-speak don’t make you seem smarter. They don’t help you connect either. Often, you will look as if you are trying to one-up people without saying anything particularly meaningful. Besides, do you want to share information and win people over, or is your goal to use language as a weapon?
What if You Must Use Jargon?
Sometimes, there is no layman’s term. Using a technical phrase or jargon may be necessary to make your point. That’s fine, but it should be accompanied by a clear explanation of what you mean.
People Love Brevity
Keep it short. That’s it!
Commit to Listening More
Listen to what people have to say. Commit to understanding as part of an overall effort to communicate with intellectual honesty.
One way to do this is to pay attention to your own behavior and thoughts when people are talking to you. Are you listening in order to formulate a response or clever comeback, or are you sincerely trying to understand?
Converse Don’t Lecture
Talk and listen. Unless you have a degree or professional experience related to the topic at hand, don’t assume that you are the authority in any conversation. Even if you are certain that you are, know that the other person has no reason to see you that way without credentials. You’ll earn more respect for your point of view by building good will and a sense of mutual respect.
Be Relentlessly Honest
What are you trying to say? Don’t be vague! Say it. Beating around the bush is a kind of prevarication. Avoid it at all costs. If you are hesitant to be clear, ask yourself why? You may be on morally shaky ground or you have an outright bad take.
Besides, it’s never a good idea to leave your thoughts up to the interpretation of others. Say what you mean and take ownership of that.
Don’t Belabor Your Point
Say your piece and move on. If they want to learn more about you or your views, they can pursue that on their own. Don’t hammer at something until you become a bore.
Active Voice Shows Authority And Ownership
Frame things in the active voice whenever you can. It puts you in the driver’s seat. This is the ideal way to demonstrate that you own your words and actions. Also, when you say, I did the thing vs. The thing was done, you give yourself some authority within the conversation because people can imagine you taking an active role.
Practice Makes Perfect
Whether you want to work on all of these tips or just one of them, the key to communicating better is to practice. Get out there and talk to people. Participate in conversations in a variety of spaces. Listen to the feedback you receive, and find ways to improve.