Communication is one of the most important skills you can develop. Whether it's at home, work, or in between friends, communicating with those around us is necessary in every aspect of life. And while we may think that communicating comes naturally to most people, it actually takes a lot of skill and effort to be truly effective.
You'd be surprised by how many people struggle with communication. I say this all the time to my clients: if you aren't communicating effectively, it's impossible to get what you want in life. It is that important!
Are you looking to increase your communicative skills? This post will teach you what you need to know in order to successfully communicate with others in all aspects of life, as well as how to avoid the most common mistakes. You'll learn how to be more assertive, use nonverbal communication tactics, and practice empathy. You will also learn how to deal with specific obstacles such as passive aggression, gossip and more.
What Happens When You Don't Communicate
Communication is the main key to success in any area of life, but when this skill isn't mastered, it affects your happiness and overall well-being. Without proper communication skills, you can lose a job or relationship because of misunderstandings. It causes you to be perceived as rude, uncooperative or even just plain stupid. And if left unchecked the consequences can be disastrous.
I can think of a number of times in my life when I've stopped and wondered how I ever managed to communicate with someone. It's a skill that's just not in my nature, yet when you have it mastered you become successful. You gain the ability to stand up for yourself and defend your rights, increase your confidence level, improve your relationships, and so much more.
Communication Skills Tips
Think before you speak
Before you say anything, consider your words carefully. Avoid interrupting others, or rattling off a long speech without taking a break to breathe. Instead, pause and ask yourself if what you are about to say is relevant. If the topic is too sensitive for others to handle, wait until they're ready to hear what you have to say and give it your full attention.
Talk to everyone respectfully
Be respectful of people's cultural differences when communicating with others. You should never use words or phrases that would be offensive if used in other countries, nor discount someone's value based on nationality.
Keep your hands to yourself
Don't point at someone or talk about them with the other people in the room. Even if you are speaking with someone, resist the urge to interact with them by making hand gestures, playing with your hair, or using other nonverbal communication tactics.
Avoid gossip and whining
Instead of complaining about others or sharing personal details that you would rather keep private, try asking questions instead. It helps keep conversations respectful and grounded in reality.
Take notes while you are talking
If you're one of the few people in a meeting who is expected to take notes, then take detailed notes. Don't write down every word that every speaker says, just the most important points and information that is relevant to your position.
Listen instead of talking
Rather than waiting for others to stop speaking so you can talk or think about what you will say next, concentrate on what the other person is saying and focus on learning as much as possible from their perspective.
Keep your sentences and answers short, so you can retain the points that are important for the conversation to move forward.
Leave enough time for questions
When someone has just explained something, they may ask questions about it. If you don't have time left in the conversation, answer their question briefly instead of ignoring them and trying to get away with not answering their question. Covering things in a way that is too brief or leaving out information can create confusion among others that will make it difficult to decide how to proceed.
Don't spend too much time on one topic
If you are supposed to be covering several different topics during the conversation, make sure you don't get so wrapped up in one that you ignore the rest.
Keep up with the conversation
If something is said by your company's president or another important person in a meeting, then it is critical for you to follow along and understand what they are saying. If you cannot follow along, ask someone else to explain what was said instead of guessing or making assumptions about what was said.
When listening to feedback or reviewing new ideas from others, try to be open-minded and not dismiss any ideas right away. Try to see the positive aspects of the idea instead of immediately rejecting it because it is different from what you have been doing in the past.
Don't interrupt others
Before you speak, remember that you could be talking over someone else or interrupting them by starting your speech before they are finished talking.
If you want to know more about something, then ask questions. When asking questions, always have another person answer your question to keep the conversation going. Otherwise, you will waste everyone's time and not get anything accomplished in the meeting
Respect personal boundaries
Don't cross into individuals' personal space or touch them without their permission. If someone is speaking to you while they are eating and doesn't mind you passing close by them, then feel free to do so. However, if it is leaving a bad odor or making you uncomfortable, then don't do it.
Have different personalities in the room
Don't have everyone in the room act or behave exactly the same way. If everyone in the meeting acts one way, the conversation will likely be boring and not helpful at all. Different people have different personalities and will bring different ideas into the conversation as long as they are respectful about each other's differences and opinions.
Meeting Etiquette Tips for Non-Verbal Communication
In addition to the verbal aspects of meeting etiquette, there are also some nonverbal communication habits that can make or break a business conversation. These may include:
Dress and grooming
Dressing appropriately for the event is important. Business meetings often call for a suit, and it typically looks better than casual dress when you attend in an office setting. Make sure your grooming is appropriate, too (i.e., no open-toed shoes or tank tops).
Dressing appropriately for the event is important. Business meetings often call for a suit, and it typically looks better than casual dress when you attend in an office setting. Make sure your grooming is appropriate, too (i.e., no open-toed shoes or tank tops). Body language: You should smile and look confident during casual meetings; however, you may want to avoid smiling too much or shaking your head while listening to others speak in business meetings.
When you are speaking, make eye contact with the person (or persons) who is listening to you for a long period of time.
Avoid fidgeting or being otherwise restless during meetings
It can distract others from the message you are trying to convey and make them think that there is something else more important going on in your mind than the meeting.
Shake hands with everyone at the beginning of a meeting, but don't do it again during the meeting unless someone extends their hand first and requests it.
When shaking hands, "massage" your host's hand with yours and look him or her directly in the eyes.
Do not touch other people's belongings while you are in a meeting
Even if they are sitting at your table. It is impolite and can create a bad impression of them. Do not interrupt or speak for others when they are speaking, especially if they do not want to be interrupted.
Spend time listening instead of talking
If you need to ask a question, do so as a final or post-meeting activity. Be sure to show that you have been listening by nodding. When ending the conversation, be sure to thank the person for their time.