Are you skilled at?:
• Nonverbal Communication
• Attentive listening
• Managing stress in the moment
• Recognizing and understanding your emotions and the emotions of people you communicate with
If you can honestly say that you are skilled at these four areas, then I can say with greatest confidence, that you are an effective communicator.
Effective communication can deepen connections to others, on a personal and business level which in turn can improve teamwork, decision-making and problem-solving; which are all extremely important in successful and meaningful relationships.
In order for us to feel connected to others, we have to feel that they do more than just exchange information with us. We have to feel that the messages we send and receive are understood and connect to the recipient.
I love how it feels when I know for certain that someone I speak to, “gets me!” And I imagine I am not alone in that. We all love feeling understood. Effective communicators “get” the people they communicate with and make sure they know they are heard and understood.
People are much more likely to work together in cooperation with people who they feel they trust and who understand them. So whether it is in a business environment or in a personal relationship, more effective communication leads to a win-win scenario for all; improving relationships at home or at work and by deepening social connections to others.
Effective communication makes it possible to communicate difficult or negative messages without destroying trust or creating conflict.
Although it is a learned skill, it is more effective at the times that it occurs spontaneously. Having said that, it takes a lot of effort and practice to be able to become spontaneous with effective communication. But the good news, is that it IS a skill and it can be learned and practiced.
Where to start
Skill # 1: Listening – This type of listening is not only about hearing the message effectively. It involves understanding the feeling of what is being communicated as well. When someone learns to listen effectively, they:
• Build Stronger and Deeper connections – by making the speaker feel as if they are heard and understood.
• Enhance and Encourage Creativity and Communication – by creating a safe environment where people feel comfortable expressing ideas and opinions more readily.
• Decrease or Avoid Conflicts and Misunderstandings – by helping to clarify information.
• Increase the chance for Problem-Solving and True Understanding – by making people feel they have been truly heard. They are then likely to be able to calm down if emotions are running high and relieve negative feelings.
Doing What Comes Naturally
Listening effectively comes naturally when your intentions are genuinely to understand, care and connect with others. There are, however, some tips to practice that can help your interactions with others become even more satisfying and rewarding.
• Keep the speaker as your focus – pay attention to nonverbal cues such as body language and other gestures. Repeating their words over and over in your head will reinforce their message and help you stay focused if you find your mind wandering with some people.
• It is NOT all about you – Try not to be in a position where you are waiting for your turn to talk. That is not listening. It is impossible to concentrate on what the other person is saying if you are working out what you’re planning on saying next. Your facial expressions will give it away and the results will not promote connections.
• Demonstrate your interest – Actively let the person talking to you know that you’re with them. Use small verbal comments like “uh huh” and non-verbal cues like smiling, nodding and open and inviting posture.
• Make it a non-judgmental zone – Set aside blame and judgment so you can fully understand them. Agreement is not a requirement, butt respecting and understanding is in order to make an effective connection.
Very little speaks louder than the connection others make with us when we feel we are being heard and understood. Practice this skill and enjoy your new key to the kingdom.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!