Ineffective communication can lead to a number of problems. It can break relationships, hurt our chances of getting hired, and even get us fired. Good communication, on the other hand, can help us improve our lives. It allows us to build healthy relationships at home and at work. It helps us make great first impressions at an interview or when meeting new people. While there are many ways to improve communication, I’m going to focus on four specific recommendations in this blog post.
1) Work on your listening skills
Listening is huge! Seriously, if you don’t take time to actively listen to others, you can’t really have a conversation. It takes practice to perfect but try to be mindful in your conversations. Focus on not trying to monopolize the conversation, but rather, take turns.
When the other person is speaking, pay attention. Try to keep your brain from wandering to your phone or your to-do list. Ask the person questions to understand what they’re saying. Be careful not to interrupt the person you’re speaking with. Let them finish before you jump in.
2) Be aware of nonverbal cues
Pay attention to your posture, eye contact, and the expressions you make. These nonverbal cues can express what you’re thinking. Be careful that your facial expressions align with what you want to convey. For example, if someone is telling you a sad story, you probably want to show that you’re sympathetic. If your expression doesn’t align with the conversation it may appear that you are either not listening or not concerned.
Eye contact is another thing to keep in mind. When you’re speaking or listening, you should give the other person eye contact. That doesn’t mean staring them down but rather, aiming to keep eye contact for 4 to 5 seconds at a time. Your posture can tell people whether you’re friendly or closed-off.
An “open posture” involves keeping the trunk of the body open and exposed. This type of posture indicates friendliness, openness, and willingness.” On the other hand, a “closed posture involves hiding the trunk of the body often by hunching forward and keeping the arms and legs crossed. This type of posture can be an indicator of hostility, unfriendliness, and anxiety.”
3) Avoid rambling
Try to get to the point of your story without taking too many tangents. People have a hard time paying attention if you go off-topic. Try to think through what you want to say and then say it, so you don’t lose your audience. When you avoid rambling, you make for a better listener, because it prevents you from dominating the conversation.
4) Keep your emotions in check
Don’t let your emotions take over the conversation. Often, our emotions can lead us to say things we regret or use a tone we probably shouldn’t. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by emotion, consider taking a step back so you can collect your thoughts and respond with a calm demeanor.
These are just a few tips to improve your communication skills and build stronger relationships. I hope you found them helpful.
[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]