Communication Skills for Your Everyday Life
In today’s society, it can be really easy to lose touch with others. We are constantly using technology, and staying behind a screen when we interact with others. We spend so much time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts, we don’t even know our friends. It seems like more and more people lack the ability to hold a conversation with someone in person. Interpersonal communication is crucial to a happy life, so here are a few ways you can improve your quality of life through improved communication.
While most people assume communication is getting your message across to others, they are only half-right. In all honesty, the largest part of communication, to me, is listening. If you intend to have an open and clear channel of communication with your peer, it has to be a two way situation. By allowing the other person to speak and patiently listening, you show them you care. People don’t talk to you just to hear the sound of their own voice. It is important to be actively listening to them so as to not miss the message being sent. Do not just listen to someone and wait for your chance to respond. Make sure you understand what the other person is telling you, and respond accordingly. If you are confused or don’t understand what they mean, ask! Make sure your questions are on topic as well.
Another huge part of having effective communication skills, is not interrupting. We teach children that interrupting is rude, and this applies for everyone. It also sends negative messages to the other person if you interrupt them. First, you are telling him or her that you do not care about the message they are trying to send. When you interrupt, you are showing them you only care to respond and devalue their thoughts. Secondly, when you interrupt, you might end up missing the message that is trying to be sent. If you have questions, kindly wait until there is a pause before asking them. By waiting for a pause, you are showing the other person that you value their information. It also shows that you are in fact, listening to them. This also allows you to take a moment to process the information given to you and formulate a proper response.
Another characteristic of good communication is body language. You can say a lot to someone else, without even saying a word out loud. Your body language is a major part of getting your message across to others. It also plays a huge factor in being a good active listener. Make sure you are physically looking at the person who you are speaking to. If you are looking down at your phone, or off into the distance, your body language shows the other person that you don’t care what they are saying to you. It shows them that their message is not important enough to earn your attention. By making eye contact and nodding when you hear key points, you are actively listening and showing the other person that you do care. Make sure you have “open” body language as well. If you have your arms folded across your chest, that is considered “closed off”, and can be seen as hostile.
Lean in toward the person that you are listening to. No, I’m not saying get super close to them and invade their personal space, but show attentiveness. If you are laying all the way back, sprawled out and looking lazy, you give off dismissive signals. By leaning forward, you’re saying “Go ahead, I’m listening”. Be engaged, with eye contact and nodding as they begin or make a point that you understand. As the person speaks to you, make sure you allow them to finish sentences without jumping to conclusions. While you are being an active listener and taking in the information passed to you, you can become way off base and confused if you assume you know how the sentence will end. Instead, ask clarifying questions once they have finished their sentence.
Speaking Directly and Clearly
When you speak to the other person or people in your conversation, speak clearly. Make sure your voice is loud enough to be heard clearly and you pronounce your words clearly. Doing this not only shows confidence, but also instills confidence in you from your audience. A low, shaky, or mumbling voice does not show the audience that you know what you’re talking about, or that you are confident. By speaking up and speaking clearly, you minimize misunderstandings in your speech as well. Be sure to pause momentarily for others to be able to add input, or ask questions. Remember, even speaking to someone is a two-way communication channel.