More than ever it is important to express yourself effectively
It does not matter if it’s your personal or professional life, you can’t get by without interpersonal skills. The better they are the more you’ll benefit from them. Everything is based on communication, become a master of it and you can practically control how you are perceived. So when you’re talking with your friends, family, a job interviewer or your boss, you are always presenting your best self forward.
Talking to people isn’t easy for everyone. Especially when you don’t know what to expect – it can become a complex and difficult process. Anyone can communicate; the trick is to do it effectively. Your level of communication skills can make or break trust, in business and even your life.
The first thing to be acutely aware of is the presentation of negative body language. As the famous quote says, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”, so mind how you carry yourself. 50% of total communication is NON-VERBAL. If you are sending negative body signals the conversation will suffer. Also, try to communicate without physical barriers between you and the other party. They only serve to distract and potentially even create presumed discomfort.
Be polite, let the other person speak. DO NOT interrupt them. It is disrespectful and disruptive. If it is absolutely necessary to interrupt, do it gently. Ask, “I’m sorry – may I interrupt you?” If you do this, whatever you say MUST justify the interruption. Think twice before doing it, though; consider what you are going to say. How will your words affect the person you are speaking with? You want to demonstrate that you want to connect with the other person and you truly care about the conversation. By interrupting or making the wrong remarks you jeopardize the integrity of your rapport.
Of course, the quality of a conversation depends on mutually good listening. Hearing and clearly comprehending what someone is saying is a skill in itself. It is in fact, what you should focus on when talking with others. Intent listening means better understanding of the views of others. With that, the other person believes you care about what they say, and you have provided a very positive base to build a conversation on.
Positivity is necessary, particularly considering that many people are on the defensive. If you have made an error and someone points it out to you, try not to be overly reactive, it’s not necessary. Don’t attack them in turn. Don’t even get excited. Just remain neutral and listen. Allow the conversation to have a balance where everyone involved has an equal role in it.
It’s interesting how often people deviate from the topic. It’s particularly distressing in a professional setting. Always keep the talk focused, don’t stray from the subject at hand. If the relevancy of the communication process is compromised the entire point of it becomes less meaningful.
Express your thoughts with confidence. Own what you say. Stand by your words when necessary. This shows character, and helps to build trust with the parties of whom you engage. With trust established you will find that the conversation flows much more freely in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Equally important as asserting your points respectfully is to be open to receiving feedback. It’s even good to perhaps step back and solicit it. You are not communicating with someone unless it is a two way action, with both parties equally contributing. Open yourself up for potential criticism – handle it maturely – and give honest feedback as you see necessary.
Communication can be a tricky thing, certain types aren’t always appropriate. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as the type of situation you’re dealing with and even the location of the conversation. Sometimes you may find it necessary to “dumb yourself down” or needing to mimic the other party somewhat for the benefit of mutual understanding. Naturally, a loud public environment is not the setting for a serious heart to heart.
Not to be overlooked is the importance of a firm handshake. When you meet someone for the first time, your grip makes an impression. You don’t need to crush the other person’s hand, just make it agreeably tight. A weak handshake is considered a trait of low self-confidence and will not earn you the respect that is the basis for mutually productive communication.