When we say communication skills, it usually is presumed to be about its importance in our professional life! However, what we are as individuals with our family, friends, or other non-work relationships, weigh heavily on how we communicate in our professional lives too! For example, if I am an emotional person when it comes to decision making, or contributing opinions, in my personal life, I am most likely to behave the same way at a professional space too! So, what I am going to share in the next few paragraphs is how to be an effective communicator as an individual in life, in general!
If you are still with me here, I am assuming 2 things: 1. You like to read good articles ;) 2. You genuinely want to improve your communication skills. For the former, subscribing to my blogsite is the answer, and for the latter, follow the below seven points sincerely, and continuously for as long as possible. Sincerely, because half-ass interest doesn’t yield to anything, and continuously because practice makes perfect!
1. Observe your communication skills closely. Note how you talk to people, how you talk to yourself even. Notice how you respond to opinions, suggestions, situations, feelings, or even absence of any. Be intricate in your observations about yourself, to the point of being uncomfortably aware of even your smallest flaws. You can’t correct something that you don’t know needs correction!
2. Observe how your input affects the output in a situation. Does it make it bad, or eases up the process or the output? Why and why? What could you have said, or behaved differently in order to alter the outcome? And why did you say or behaved in a particular way that you did? Your communication is a reflection of your core beliefs/values. For example, If being ‘submissive’ and ‘sacrificing’ is one of your core values, than standing up for yourself or raising your voice to be heard, might sound like a completely inappropriate thing to do during a conversation. Which could dramatically change the outcome, to what you might have wished for! Consequently further changing everything in the course of time, for you! Same examples could be drawn from official meetings, pitching for a startup investment, or even during a salary negotiation in an interview! The examples are many, but I guess you got my point!
3. Identify your weaknesses and Work on your strengths. If you are a social person, your strength most likely is the ability to strike up conversations, however short or long, with complete strangers! Your charisma, your confidence in yourself that what you have to offer is exactly what the ‘stranger’ is looking for, could be a game-changer. However, your weakness could be, not being able to ‘draw the line’ between what needs to be said, and what doesn’t! Too much talking, eventually leads to less listening, and that’s where mostly you will have lost the interest that you so quickly created with that person! ‘Too much talking’ also could lead to less credibility. Without credibility, any communication is useless. On the other hand, If you are an introvert your obvious weakness is fear of interaction. You prefer to keep social interactions as less as possible. Your strength could be listening. Cause, if you are not talking, you are probably listening! The fear of interaction could come from lack of self esteem, low confidence, fear of rejection, and overthinking, to name a few. An effective way to deal with the above is to indulge in self-talks. As unconventional it might sound, talking to self is a great way to boost self esteem and self confidence. Probably because the fear of rejection from others is subdued. Away from the crowds, the noises, the chatters, psychologically the mind perceives itself to be alone and hence safe, cocooned in its own company. Therefore , no fear of rejection. Practically it might seem or even feel a bit awkward at the beginning, but gradually these ‘self-talks’ would subconsciously grow confidence, and self-acceptance, which are primary in effectively communicating. Baby steps are important when it comes to inculcating useful changes.
4. Read a lot of books! There is just no way around it! Read whatever interests you. Reading improves vocabulary, which is like ‘tuning’ in communicating! It goes without saying that it also increases your knowledge, depending on what you read. It also, most definitely improves perspectives. It encourages thinking! It introduces to self-reflecting! These factors are gems, when it comes to communicating. There is a higher chances of people taking you seriously, if your talk is backed by knowledge, by facts, and that comes from a whole lot of reading! So, read, read, and read!
5. Make the hard move, and raise your hand to speak! Like the previous step, there is no going around it too! Trust me when I say this, that People aren’t magicians. You have to speak up to let them know what is going on inside your beautiful mind. Do not assume. If you don’t talk, they will never know! It’s as simple as that! Don’t worry about the perfect start or the perfect ending. Just start participating!
6. Never, ever, ever, interrupt. No matter how wrong you think they are talking , or how much of an urge you have got, to prove your point, just never ever ever interrupt. It’s uncourteous. You cannot possibly expect to make an effective argument or statement by interrupting someone else when they are talking. When in an urge to cut off someone else’s talking, pinch yourself, or take a slow deep breath, and remind yourself that you are a patient speaker, and you will speak your mind, respectfully, when the mic comes to you. And before you know it, you will develop this valuable virtue of patience, which needless to say is extremely important in effective communication.
7. Last, but certainly not the least, keep an open mind! People come from different backgrounds, culturally, economically, psychologically. What is normal to you, might not be the same for them, and vice versa! Having conversations, or even speaking to a group, or addressing a crowd, it is imperative to be respectful of each other’s differences.
Improving communication skills is a life long process. Take it slow, but steady, as you progress through each day. Have immense patience with yourself, and take time off once in a while to celebrate how far you’ve come!
Much love! Jay.