How many times have you found yourself at a crossroads with a colleague, business partner, salesperson or even your significant other for that matter? Do you feel that, despite your best intentions, you’re misunderstood and can’t get your point across in a conversation? If so, you are certainly not alone.
“The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has already taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw
I’ve been in the same boat. Through numerous mistakes I am finally learning that communication is the responsibility of the communicator. If you don’t understand me, it’s not your fault. It is because I have not expressed myself clearly.
Here’s a five step communication framework that has proven very beneficial to me and can help you hone your communication skills.
Try these steps in an environment that provides the maximum potential for learning and a candid assessment of your progress (e.g., at home with a friends vs. at work where you’ll likely encounter a “politically correct” evaluation).
Remember, once learned, these skills are transferable and can be applied to any situation.
Make eye contact.
Show the person you are really listening. For instance, if someone asks the million dollar question, “Do I look fat?” your conditioned response is likely a vehement “no” — even as your gaze is intently fixed elsewhere. That is undoubtedly a good answer, but your body language does not match your words.
This is a big problem! The immediate reaction you are likely to receive, mixed with reprisal is: “You haven’t even looked!” A simple way to steer clear of this type of reaction is to look the person in the eye when you speak. It automatically gives you more credibility.
Watch out for non-verbal signs.
Words make up only 7% of your communication; 63% is body language and the remaining 20% is your tone. According to psychological research, “Every day, we respond to thousands on nonverbal cues and behaviors including postures, facial expression, eye gaze, gestures, and tone of voice. From our handshakes to our hairstyles, nonverbal details reveal who we are and impact how we relate to other people.”
And “a basic awareness of non-verbal communication strategies, over and above what is actually said, can help to improve interaction with others. Knowledge of these signs can be used to encourage people to talk about their concerns and can lead to a greater shared understanding – the purpose of communication.” (Source: SkillsYouNeed.com)