As I explain in Chapter 8 of my book, The Poppie Factor, modern technology has catapulted us into a communicative bandwidth that helps to speed up business but has also made us lazy. The result? Our communication skills have dwindled. Sadly, most people today have absolutely no idea what effective communication really means.
For this reason, we are becoming less effective at face-to-face communication. In fact, although most of us believe ourselves to be good communicators, the reality is that we all need to work on our communication skills.
Here are 5 tips to improve communication in all walks of life, business and personal:
- Listen before speaking – If you hope to be heard, you must first listen. Often times, we start forming our response to what someone is saying before they even finish their sentence. How can you answer a question that you haven’t heard? Instead, slow down. Listen and try to understand what the other person is trying to say before you respond.
- Do not assume anything – Most relationships, both personal and business, begin with certain assumptions being taken for granted. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict of opinions. You should never simply assume that past beliefs or behaviors are inevitable and, with improved communication, they will not be.
- Watch for body language – Non-verbal communication is often as important, if not more so than what is being said aloud. Folded arms, crossed legs, and clenched jaws are sure signs of anger or disagreement. One’s tone of voice is also important for, while the words may say one thing, the tone of voice and body language may indicate the opposite.
- Be genuinely curious –When you ask a question you indicate that you respect the opinions of others and that you are willing to listen. Do not open a discussion by trying to impose your will but, instead, ask an open-ended question that will encourage input from others. This shows that you respect their opinion and should, in turn, garner you the same respect once you choose to speak up.
- Exercise patience – Communication is so important – and sometimes so hard. It doesn’t eliminate differences, but it does allow for them. Ultimately, good business communication is not about winning; it’s about strengthening relationships.
Whether your goal is to improve communication in your business or in your personal life, these five tips will ensure that you will become a master communicator and, if you lead by example, those around you will be able to share their thoughts and feelings more effectively as well.