Effective communication skills are fundamental to success in many aspects of life. Many jobs require strong communication skills and people with good communication skills usually enjoy better interpersonal relationships with friends and family.
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” ~Lee Iacocca
The good news is that anyone can develop good communication skills. And it’s encouraging to know that even small improvements in your ability to connect with others will have a profound effect on the quality of your life. Let’s discuss some dos and don’ts for honing your communication skills.
- Start with general talk:
Start a conversation by saying something general and not too personal, for example talk about the weather (“Pleasant day, isn’t it?”); pay a compliment (“That sweater looks great on you”); make an observation (“I noticed that you were reading a book on fitness, do you go to a gym?”); or introduce yourself (“I don’t think we have met, I’m…”).
- Give a compliment:
Try giving a compliment: But remember to always be sincere: only pay a compliment to someone if you truly believe what you are saying.
- Use the FORD principle:
Sometimes people find it difficult to open up to strangers. To break the silence follow the FORD principle: talk about family, occupation, recreation and dreams. That could help you and the other person to find common ground.
- Nonverbal clues
Pay attention to your body language and show that you are interested in the conversation.
- Tell a story:
Stories help to make the conversation interesting. Everyone’s got at least one great story with them. Choose the one apt to the occasion and a smooth conversation will follow.
- Be a good listener:
“A good conversation is a bunch of words elegantly connected with listening.”
People often focus on what they should say, but effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. Listening well means not just understanding the words or the information being communicated, but also understanding the emotions the speaker is trying to communicate.
- Include Humor:
Humor adds spice to the conversation and makes it lively, but do ensure your humor is appropriate to the situation. Humor is healthy till it does not ridicule or hurt someone.
- Wear a smile:
Maintain a positive, cheerful attitude during the conversation and reinforce it with your pleasing smile.
- Maintain eye contact:
Maintaining eye contact communicates to the other person that you are not only interested in them and what they have to say, but that you are also trustworthy
- Volume control:
Remember to speak loudly enough so that others can hear you.Modulate your voice during the conversation.
- Open ended questions:
Ask open-ended questions about their interests. Ask questions that will get them to talk about their interests and their life in a way that provides you with insight into their needs and wants.
- Ending the conversation:
Think of a graceful way to end the conversation. For example, you can say that you need to refill your drink, catch up with another person at a party, get back to work, or you can promise to continue the conversation at a later time or date.
- Get Rid of Unnecessary Fillers:
Um’s and ah’s do little to improve your conversations. Cut them out to feel more confident. One way is to start keeping track of when you say words like “um” or “like.” “I know”etc.
- Put Away the Distractions:
It’s pretty rude to use your phone while someone’s talking to you.Even if you receive a call during a conversation, politely say “I will call you back later.”
- Don’t talk too little or too much:
Remember that a conversation is a 2-way street – don’t talk too little, or too much. As much as possible, try to contribute to about one-half of the conversation when speaking one on one.
- Don’t blow your own trumpet:
Avoid the temptation to show off or brag about your achievements. Remember “Self-praise has no recommendation.”
- Don’t be sarcastic:
Don’t fall a prey to passing sarcastic comments during the conversation, as it puts off people.
- Don’t condemn or criticize:
Don’t condemn or criticize anyone during the conversation, because the person may feel that you may say similar things about him to someone else.
- Don’t try to gain sympathy by narrating your problems:
No one likes to converse with a person who paints himself as a victim of circumstances.
- Don’t ask for help or favor:
When talking to an acquaintance (not a friend) don’t ask for a help or favor.
- Don’t ask personal questions:
Never try to intrude into the privacy by asking personal questions, as it may create an embarrassing situation.
- Don’t talk loudly:
Sometimes people start talking loudly out of excitement, but it is not a good etiquette.
- Never ask a man his wage or a woman her age
This is an age old adage, but its validity cannot be overemphasized.
- Don’t interrupt
During the course of conversation when an idea comes to your mind, don’t interrupt.It is better to keep quiet, let the person have his say, and only then speak.
In a nutshell
Since people play such a big role in your life, your entire life will be much smoother if you take the time to improve the way you connect with others by developing better communication skills.
Before long, you’ll find it easy to connect with just about anyone in any situation. This ability will open up an abundance of new opportunities that would not have been available otherwise. That’s the power of effective communication skills. I would like to end with my favorite quote: “The quality of your life is the quality of your communication.” ~Tony Robbins