Communication is at the core of our existence. Whether we know it or not, we are all communicating with others all the time – be it through words or through our body language. As a social animal, we cannot survive without communicating with other. Why do you think solitary confinement is one of the most stringent punishments in prison? So the first thing to acknowledge is that you can communicate. Don’t ever say or think that you cannot communicate, you will only pull yourself down.
The quality of your communication determines whether you get what you want or not. If you find yourself in situations where people just don’t get what you are saying, it is time to reflect and understand where the communication is not going right –
– is it that your idea is not clear; or
– is it that your words are not appropriate; or
– is it that you are not able to get the attention of the listener; or
– is it that you are not able to get the listener interested in what you have to say; or
– is it that you know what to say but just don’t have the confidence to say it well?
It is important to know where you may be getting stuck so that you can improve the quality of your communication and achieve your objectives. The top 5 tips to enhance the quality of your communication with others are as follows:
Enhance Your Active Vocabulary
It is important to use the appropriate words in our sentences to get our ideas across. If we do not have a strong vocabulary, we will struggle to express our ideas clearly and succinctly. If we have to use a lot of simple words to get across one idea which could have been expressed better with one appropriate word, we run the risk of the listener losing interest in what we have to say or worse our ideas get buried under a bunch of random words. So it is important to have a large active vocabulary, i.e., words that we can actually use while speaking and writing.
Everyone has a much larger passive vocabulary than an active one, and that is perfectly alright. However, if you make efforts to listen to how more advanced or difficult words are used by others and try to use it in your communication, you will develop your active vocabulary and then not be at loss of words. Focus on the type of words you will actually use or that are used actively in your industry.
Be Clear about what you want to say and what you want to get out of it
People have very short attention spans and they don’t like to listen to someone who rambles on without any clear purpose. So before you can engage anyone in a conversation, it is important that you are clear about your own thoughts and ideas. When you have that clarity of thought, you will be able to structure your message better.
It is important to be clear on what is it that you are trying to achieve while talking to someone so that you can guide the discussion towards getting that end objective. This does not mean that you show no interest in the person you are talking to. You objective could very well be to get to know the person better and understand what their challenges are so that you can then see how you can help them. At times we make the assumption that the listener knows what we want and will do the needful without us actually specifically asking for it. This approach may not get you the desired outcome. The better approach is to have a clear ‘call to action’ so that the listener knows what you expect or want them to do.
Grab the attention of the listener
Has this happened to you – you are sitting with a group of people and when you try to say something, you realize that no one is listening and then you just stop talking. Believe me, it happens to almost everybody. The important thing is to not give up and start believing that no one wants to listen to me. You have to make an effort to grab the attention of the listeners and say what you have to say. There are many ways of doing it. You can interject when there is a slight pause in the conversation or when one topic that was being discussed has reached its logical conclusion. You can use phrases like – “I want to add to that” or “I had a similar experience” or “Do you want to hear another perspective” or “I agree and ….” or something on these lines.
Another scenario very common these days is when you are trying to say something and the listener starts looking at their phone or doing something else. Before you can get your message across, you need to grab their attention.
Make it interesting for the listener
If you want to engage with someone and have them listen to your ideas, you need to make sure it is interesting for the listener. You need to look at things from their perspective and present your ideas in a way that makes it meaningful for them. If the listener does not see anything of interest to them in what you have to say, they will eventually switch off and your efforts would be wasted. So it is better to understand your audience and tailor your content so as to make it about your audience and not about you. This simple strategy will see your quality of communication improve dramatically.
Work on building your confidence
When you have confidence in yourself, it shows and it attracts others to you like a magnet. People want to get to know you and your self-confident attitude shows that you are worth their time and effort. A self-confident person also makes others feel better about themselves. People who lack confidence tend to avoid connecting with others, they avoid eye contact and project disinterest. This turns people off. For good conversation to take place, people need to make eye contact and need to show interest in each other. So to become a good conversationalist, work on building your self-confidence. When you feel good about yourself, you will be able to make others feel good about themselves.
Remember, a conversation is always a two–way street so both sides need to get to speak and should listen when the other person is talking. Being a good conversationalist is not only about speaking well but also about listening well. When you listen actively and understand the other person’s perspective, you will be able to present your ideas in a much more attractive manner.