It's easy to think of verbal communication as a lost art among the many new forms of digital socializing, but mastering the art of in-person communication will drive you to success and opportunity. Here’s what you need to know to dominate the communication game:
This point is one of the most important skills you can learn in effectively communicating. When you demonstrate interest and active listening, you allow the speaker to feel relaxed and comfortable conveying his thoughts to you. This leads to ease in the exchange of ideas and enables the conversation to flow smoothly. Not only does this make you a strong communicator, but it also helps to build connections and trust and allows you to avoid missing critical information. This is to your advantage—especially as a young person communicating in a professional setting as you are squashing any notions that you’re just another distracted youth. Use body language such as nodding, making eye contact, and leaning your body towards the conversation to show your engagement. Asking questions is another way of demonstrating active listening. Practice your active listening skills with a friend or in class the next time you find your mind drifting. Notice how quickly you’re able to regain focus and learn something new. Make no mistake, engaged listening is a cornerstone of effective communication.
In a nutshell, being personable is synonymous with being pleasant. One way to embody this is to display humility and vulnerability in your communication. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” – C.S. Lewis. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who constantly speaks about themself or discusses lifeless subjects and mean gossip? Or perhaps you’ve been guilty of this yourself at times. This kind of conversation is uninspiring and doesn’t show you as personable. Instead, try to engage in an effortless give-and-take conversational flow. Share interesting tidbits of information in a way that isn’t arrogant or overbearing. Also, being personable is to encourage conversation from your speaker. Since you’re likely already employing tip one; actively listening; take it a step further and ask a probing question. For example, a friend tells you about her recent vacation. You might instinctively ask her, “how was your trip?” But a personable communicator doesn’t stop there. One might ask details about any activities on the trip and what made it most memorable. If you’re communicating with someone you don’t know, you might use his or her name. Make a mental note of personal details about the person you are speaking to and reference it in a future conversation. Subtle particulars such as these are the art of being personable and will make you a communication rock star.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Your tone when communicating is how you use your voice to get your point across. An improper tone can easily hamper your ability to convey your message. When communicating, especially in professional settings, it’s essential to develop an overall optimistic and positive manner. Many times, we are unaware of our tone because we hear ourselves speak all the time. You can check in with your tone of voice by listening to yourself on audio or video (social media posts, anyone?). Pay attention to how you sound and determine if your tone is pleasant and warm. This kind of tone is best for situations where you are meeting new people or in a professional setting. Of course, there are many tones you can use for different situations. Some examples of tones are: motivating, informative, soft, humorous, respectful, and direct. Master communicators are aware of different voice tones and know when to use them. If it all sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. You can start with identifying what kind of voice tone you would like to use and listening to others who achieve this. An effective way to determine tone is to think, “what is my intention with this message” before speaking. This will give you a clue as to which tone to tap into.
Finally, never stop learning about communication. Since humans are social creatures, we communicate frequently, making it seem like there is not much to study. However, communication is the cornerstone of our lives and is best utilized with proper technique and continual improvement. Those who can do it well have better relationships and access to greater opportunities. By actively listening, being personable, and using the right tone, you will master the key to this pivotal art form.
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