Do you struggle with communicating effectively? Communication is a key part of every aspect of our lives. We are always communicating.
1a: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior the function of pheromones in insect communication also: exchange of information
There are 3 forms of communication, verbal, non-verbal, and written. Verbal communication has two parts, speaking and listening. Non-verbal is body language. Top leaders are fluent in all 3 forms. They have practiced and mastered the skills that enable them to communicate well. You too can learn how to communicate like a top leader. I’m going to focus on verbal and non-verbal communication in this article.
Follow these strategies to improve your communication skills:
- Learn to listen. Top leaders know that listening is a critical part of communication. When you are listening, you set up an environment where others can contribute, which in turn gives you more information. When you are actively engaged in listening, you are not easily distracted by people walking by, your phone or what’s happening out the window. This allows you to remember what is being said and form follow-up questions, make mental notes of how the information can be useful in completing a task, or just make the person feel like they were heard. Give every conversation your full attention.
- Ask questions. Asking open-ended questions allows you to get even more information. A closed-ended question, “does that work for you?”, usually gets you a yes or no response. An open-ended question, “What are your thoughts?”, will get you a more in-depth response. Asking questions engages the person you are communicating with in a more profound way and demonstrates real interest in the conversation.
- Pronoun Choices. Pronoun choice is an important part of communication depending on your audience and the topic. If you are trying to get cooperation, get by in on your vision or idea, or foster a sense of teamwork, use pronouns like we, us. This communicates to the other person that you are a part of the team. If you are trying to set yourself apart, use pronouns like me, I. This communicates that this is something that you need to do alone, without anyone’s help.
- Focus on being brief. Top leaders know that you don’t have to make a long speech to be effective. Practice being brief and getting your point across with fewer words and less time. People appreciate brief conversations and respect others who don’t go off on tangents. However, ensure you’re still providing enough information while you talk. You don’t want to be vague or miss important details.
- Pay attention to body language. Types of body language include posture, eye contact, facial expressions. Posture; are you standing straight, slumped over? Posture communicates confidence, awareness, interest. Eye contact shows how engaged you are with the person. Are you looking away, could be interrupted as not interested in what the other person is saying. Where looking the person in the eye shows interest and engagement. Facial expressions communicate very effectively. Are you smiling, frowning, showing anger? Smiling is a very effective communication in showing you are engaged, liking what the person is saying. The reverse is also true. Watch how the other person is communicating through body language and adjust how you are communicating based on what they are communicating.
You can learn to communicate more effectively by following these strategies used by top leaders. Study how others are communicating and see what works for them and notice what doesn’t work for them. You’ll have many opportunities each day. Every time you have a conversation with anyone is an opportunity to practice a little more. Use these strategies to help you be a better communicator in all aspects of your life.
If you would like help with your communication style, please reach out.