By: Clare Evans
For me, communication is important to many things in life. Particularly in the relationships we have with the people around us at work and at home.
How often do we misinterpret what’s been said or done, just because we don’t know how to communicate properly? Making assumptions based on our own, perhaps narrow perspective and not taking into account what other people might be feeling or thinking.
How to communicate is something we learn early on in life and if we don’t know how to do it properly or we get it wrong, it can lead to poor communication throughout the rest of our life. We fall into bad habits, feel uncomfortable having difficult conversations, avoid conflict or arguments and prefer just to keep quiet.
Learning how to talk and how to say what you feel is important in maintaining good relationships, not just in your personal life but with the people you work with. If you can’t tell someone how you feel, how can you expect them to know? None of us are mind readers.
It can seem uncomfortable at first if you’re not used to it and it may not come out quite as you intended. Be genuine you will be able to get the message across, as long as the person is open to what you are saying.
Always be clear in the words that you use, the tone of your voice and your body language. Think about the message you are trying to get across.
In this age of technology, with emails and text messages being used as a regular and accepted means of communication, there is even more chance for confusion and misinterpretation.
You can’t communicate feelings or humour in an email or a text. You need to know someone reasonably well to know whether a comment they’ve made is genuine, sarcastic or insulting. I’ve seen many an email or text discussion being totally misinterpreted because it’s been taken out of context and without the underlying feeling being known.
You can interpret a simple statement in a number of different ways just by changing the emphasis on a particular word. Using a different tone would give it a totally different meaning.
Don’t use email or text for discussions where emotional is an important part of the communication. Pick up the phone or arrange for a face-to-face discussion.
An important part of communication is not only speaking but also listening and listening properly, not just waiting for them to stop speaking so you can jump in. Really listen for what they are saying, forget about how you might be feeling, put yourself in their shoes for a moment.
Whether it’s in a work or personal situation, if you have something important or difficult you want to say then:
– Set aside some time specifically to discuss it, when you’re not going to be distracted or interrupted.
– Explain what you’re feeling and what needs to happen or what you would like to happen.
– Ask for their reaction – how do they feel about what you’ve said.
– Don’t be judgemental – accept what they are thinking and feeling.
– Allow time to adjust. Reacting in the heat of the moment is not always the wisest action.
– Make any serious decisions after you’ve had time to think things through.
Above all be honest. There’s nothing worse then being told what someone thinks they want you to hear and then finding out later they were being less than honest with you or with themselves. Perhaps they didn’t want to hurt your feelings but in the end it doesn’t help either of you.
If you’re not sure whether you’ve understood something correctly – ask. Many misunderstandings arise when people make assumptions about what’s been said or what someone means. Your interpretation of the world around you is different from someone else’s based on your background, views, behaviours, beliefs and values, so what you’re thinking may be different too.
I will always prefer to assume “positive intent” when communicating with someone and I recommend that you do too. On the whole people aren’t out to get you – so allow them to clarify if you think you may have misinterpreted or misunderstood what they’ve said.
Give people the benefit of the doubt and make your communication clear and direct.
Clare writes on several topics to help busy, stressed individuals and small business owners organise their lives more effectively. Register for her monthly newsletter at www.clareevans.co.uk and receive free tips on managing your time.
Psychological research tells us that the effect you have on others depends on what you say (7%), the manner in which you say it (38%), and by your body language (55%). In addition, how you sound also imparts a message, so 93% of your communication has an emotional context.
A concise way on how we can sell effectively is by simply using that old but very powerful arsenal known as body language.
When you sell, you can use postures, facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms, and your physical appearance to close the sale successfully. Most customers tend to buy when triggered by their senses. The key here is to do everything you can to positively affect their senses.
When selling, the instant you meet your prospective client, he is already examining you based on your image and perception in a span of ten seconds or less. This is a crucial moment in selling, as his first impression of you will definitely make a permanent mark.
Whether you make or break a sale can literally depend on the non-verbal signals that you send during this crucial first contact. It’s a must for readers of this application to understand the facets of body language especially in selling.
E-mail, IM, Skype, phone, snail mail — there are more vehicles for communication than ever before. But when it comes to truly effective communication, there is nothing as good as face-to-face meetings. That’s because more than 90 percent of the communication we do is nonverbal. How can you possibly accomplish your communications objectives if the person you are communicating with receives only 10 percent of your message?
Add Strength to Your Words. When I was growing up I was repeatedly told, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” That’s what nonverbal communication speaks to. When you meet with someone, you have the opportunity to send your entire message and they have the ability to truly embrace it. You can share the tone and volume with your voice and place emphasis on certain words. Your facial expressions, gestures, and body language convey additional meaning that is totally lost with computer-based communications. There is little room for misunderstanding.
Power Up Your Nonverbal Communication. When you get together with someone, they have the chance to experience the real you. If you want to make a good impression you’ll dress properly, and make sure your hair and nails are clean. You’ll lead with a firm handshake that demonstrates self-confidence and follow up with good eye contact and a winning smile.
Tune In to feedback. Meeting with someone is more personal than using high tech lines of communication. It gives you the opportunity to build a bond and establish trust. When you’re talking, you get immediate feedback from the person you are with. If the response is not what you expected or hoped for, you are in a position to modify it on the spot.
Ramp Up Your Listening Skills. A face-to-face meeting give you the opportunity to listen. And listening is the most important communication skill we have. After all, you don’t learn anything when you are talking. You already know all about what you have to say. It is when we listen to others that we have the chance to learn about them and what they are sharing.
Being an effective listener means asking open-ended questions and listening carefully to the answers. Avoid the tendency to interrupt or advise. Cultivate the ability to make the person you are listening to feel like they are the center of your world while they are speaking. Let them see how interested you are in what they have to say — even if you really aren’t. Actively listen. That means listening intently and processing the information so you are in a position to respond in a thoughtful manner. Be sure to read between the lines. And be cognizant of their nonverbal behaviors.
Show That You Care. Face-to-face communication is an opportunity to establish a common bond. Make an effort to find an interest that you share. Be sincere. Be interested. Be giving. Supplementing your newly polished communication skills with the knowledge you care can work miracles with your interpersonal communication.
Author: Carol Dunitz, Ph.D.
Carol Dunitz, Ph.D. is president of The Last Word LLC, a communication and creative services company. She is a professional speaker and author of ‘Louder Than Thunder,’ a parable about listening and interpersonal communication. Dunitz is the playwright, lyricist and composer of ‘Bernhardt on Broadway,’ a musical about Sarah Bernhardt. She can be reached at 312.523.4774, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.DrCarolDunitz.com.
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