Knowing how to communicate effectively is the key to any relationship. Whether you’re giving a presentation at work, working out a disagreement with your significant other, or just having a chat with a friend, knowing how to articulate your ideas as well as listen to the ideas of others is simply crucial. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when trying to become a better communicator so here are 9 steps that will guarantee you success in your social interactions as a communicator.
Pt 1: Be a better listener
Communicating your own side is only half of what it means to be a good communicator. To know how to effectively communicate with someone, you need to understand what exactly it is that they’re trying to tell you. This is why the first step – is to know how to listen.
If you’re not entirely convinced in your abilities to listen, have a read of our article: 9 ways you can instantly become a better listener!
Pt 2: Body language
Body language is just as important as the words leaving your mouth. We are subconsciously communicating with our body language all the time, as well as picking up on it. Even if someone isn’t a master at body language, their brain will still pick up on it. Here are some keys on body language for an effective communicator:
- Face towards the other person and make casual eye contact. This doesn’t mean stare them down intensely, it should feel natural like you’re tuning in on them which is why you’re paying attention.
- Point your feet towards them. If someone’s feet are pointed away from you during a conversation, it usually means they want to leave and no longer engage in conversation. Avoid giving that impression by making sure your feet point to them.
- Have a relaxed posture. Don’t slouch or hunch over, but don’t be stiff as a board either. Relax your shoulders and keep your back straight.
- Avoid crossing your arms. Crossing your arms comes off as very closed off and defensive and the other person might feel like you’re not being open.
- Be expressive with your face. Having a straight monotonous face throughout the conversation may make the other person feel dismissed. You don’t have to comically overreact to everything they say, just don’t be afraid to let certain muscles in your face react. The eyebrows are especially helpful when trying to convey facial expressions in a subtle way.
Pt 3: Talk with people, not at people
Communicating is not just about getting your point across, it is about working with the other person. Enter a conversation with an open mind, be ready to learn and take in new perspectives. Remember, you’re not just preaching your own idea, you’re listening to other people and their ideas too.
When you talk at people, it can come across as overly assertive, bossy and even rude. There are times to be assertive and times to be not. When you’re having a conversation with someone, you’ll have better success when you’re talking with them. People love talking about themselves, so make it about them and ask lots of questions so they have a chance to say what they want.
Pt 4: Validate the other person’s feelings
An important part of being a good communicator is to understand what the other person is trying to express. An easy way to show the other person that you get what they’re saying is by validating their feelings. Even if you disagree, just by validating their experience, they will be much more receptive and open-minded towards you.
For example, let’s say you disagree with a coworker who isn’t completing what they’re supposed to. Instead of trying to guilt or shame them, you can say: “I understand that your workload is a lot and you must be feeling really stressed right now and I’m sorry you have so much going on but we really would appreciate it if you could just prioritize this certain task.”
Everyone just wants to feel heard, and we’re more likely to cooperate when we feel like someone has heard us.
Pt 5: Validate your own feelings
Validating your own feelings is just as important as validating someone else’s. When communicating with someone and you’re struggling to convey to them your perspective, bring in emotions. Emotions are something all human beings fundamentally understand.
If someone said something that upset you, instead of simply saying you didn’t like it – explain why. How did it make you feel? If someone made a joke that crossed the line, you can say something like “I know you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but that joke made me feel really upset and humiliated.” The person might not be able to understand why their joke crossed the line but they’ll understand how it made you feel.
By conveying that, the other person will much more easily be able to relate to you and it gives you a chance to be heard as well.
Pt 6: Talk about the situation, not the other person’s character
This tip is especially helpful when it comes to disagreements and arguments. Often when we are upset with people, we like to get petty and point fingers. But this blame game only makes it harder to communicate effectively and find solutions.
For example, if your partner did something you thought was selfish, instead of saying “you’re being so selfish.” you can say “when you did that, it made me feel like you didn’t consider or care about me at all.” Always refer back to the situation. Talk about how they acted in the situation. But don’t make assumptions and petty takes on someone’s character because that can make them incredibly upset and defensive.
Pt 7: Take turns speaking and listening
To be a good communicator, you need to know when to speak and when to not. Never interrupt someone or cut them off when they’re speaking. Let them finish before you say what you need to. If someone is interrupting you, politely ask them to let you finish speaking first.
You can ask simple questions or give words of reassurance or sympathy it even just nod your head while the other person is talking to let them know you’re still engaged.
Pt 8: Use your voice wisely
Tone is everything. You can say all the right words, but if your tone is off when saying them, you’ll get absolutely nowhere. Here are some pointers to remember when it comes to voice tone.
- Speak softly and gently to avoid making the other person feel confronted.
- Keep your voice calm and controlled to keep the situation calm and controlled.
- Whatever you do, don’t sound monotone – it makes the other person feel like you don’t care about the conversation and are uninterested.
- When you’re validating someone’s feelings, make your town more sympathetic. Raise the pitch of your voice slightly while making it softer. If you don’t sound sympathetic it can come off as ingenuine.
- Avoid sounding assertive and dictatorial when you’re trying to cooperate or negotiate with someone.
Pt 9: Be straightforward and to the point
A key quality of a bad communicator is that they waffle around so much that no one can seem to understand what exactly they want to say. As important as it is to be mindful of the other person’s receptiveness to what you’re saying – you do have to communicate your point at the end of the day.
You can validate someone’s feelings and still be straightforward. Don’t try and sugar coat or beat around the bush. Be straightforward and get to the point. You can choose your words more carefully to make sure you’re not coming off wrong, however, it is essential that you actually say what you want to say.