Thursday, January 20, 2011
Ideas to improve communication
Each person has a unique way of communicating. Listen to your own speech. What sorts of words do you use? Which sort of body language and what tone of voice are you using? Now, think of someone who, in your opinion, is a good communicator. Compare your style to theirs. You’ve just taken an important first step in how to improve communication skills.
Since the 1970’s, learning how to communicate better has had a lot to do with understanding body language.
Julius Fast wrote a book entitled, Body Language in 1970. He talked about a new science called Kinesics. It opened the way to more studies and books on the subjects. Today, the term Body Language is very common and understood as an important element of communication.
In fact, experts in the field of communication suggest that there is a rule that says that 7% of the meaning of what a person is saying comes from their words.
Interestingly, 38% is based on the tone of their voice. 55% of the meaning comes from the body language of the person that is speaking. This rule comes from research that was published in the late 1960’s.
Some now think that the percentages from this research might be slightly different. Nevertheless, the bottom line is still the same. If you don’t know the basics of body language, you are missing a valuable tool for learning how to communicate better. We speak body language on a subliminal level, without actually realizing that we are communicating through body talk.
The most expressive part of your body is your face. When you enter a room if you feel nervous, your expression might make you look aloof or unfriendly.
Smiling at the room is a sure-fire way to remove anyone’s doubts about your approachability. Smiling makes us look warm, open and confident.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. They certainly give people clues about what we are feeling.
A direct gaze towards someone can show interest- direct staring on the other hand can mean an intense dislike. Very little eye contact can show that you are shy.
Have you ever watched someone’s hand gestures when they are talking? Open hand gestures tend to make a person appear open and honest. Bringing hands together to a point can accent the point you are making.
Wringing your hands or excessively moving your fingers and hands will give away nervousness. It can even make someone look dishonest- are they trying to hide something?
If you lean towards someone you are showing an interest in that person. If we are feeling low in confidence, we tend to slouch our shoulders and look down.
Men and women use different body language. For instance, women will stand close to each other, hold eye contact with the person they are talking to and use gestures.Men make little effort to maintain eye contact and don’t rely on the use of gestures to communicate. Men and women can learn how to communicate better by observing the differences in their use of body language.
Knowing how to improve communication skills will come easier once you become aware of your own communication style. Adjust to the other styles of communication. Don’t think it is too late to change your way of conversing because it’s been years. You had to learn to communicate in the first place and you can unlearn certain behaviors or change them. Sometimes we get stuck in a communication rut.
A father once was having a hard time with his teenaged daughter. She was growing and he thought she didn’t tell him what was going on in her life. They were in a heated discussion when he asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Her answer was that she had, but he was too busy lecturing her to hear her. He learned that adjusting his style to his daughter would involve listening first before jumping right into solving the problem.
To build rapport, during a conversation try and match the other person’s movements, posture and verbal style. Don’t do everything they do, but mirror one or two things. For example, if the person gives mostly short answers to questions, you follow suit.
Or, maybe they talk at a slower pace than you usually do-slow your speaking speed to match theirs. This may sound simplistic but it is a very potent way to make someone feel very relaxed and comfortable in your presence.
The way you communicate at home may not be the same as in a different environment. Make sure you change your style to suit the different setting. Some comments you might want to tell your best friend, in private.
Other things can be shared in a group setting. Learn how to improve communication skills by altering your style for the appropriate setting. Many of us know someone who offers far too much information in a group setting.
Don’t criticize others for communicating differently. If we all communicated in the same way, we’d soon be bored with each other.
Getting a good grasp of your communication style and finding ways to accommodate other peoples’ styles, is a good way to improve your communication skills.
Now that you are aware of your own style, study the style of those around you. How do the most important people in your life converse? How do they say things? Look for approaches you can model and make your own.