Five Simple Acts to Amp Up Your Communication Skills

Small gestures and simple acts make a significant difference in how your communications go, specifically how the other person feels about you and the conversations you share.

Here are simple tips from The Way to Say It to amp up your communication skills:

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Sit down – By sitting down opposite your listener, their experience of the communication changes. They feel more heard, more valued and they get the feeling you have spent more time with them. Taking a seat improves connection and communicates caring and interest.

 

 

 

Beautiful Eyes

Make eye contact – It’s easy to get distracted by any number of activities happening around you. Might be a text coming in on your cell. Or emails appearing on your computer screen, or other family members competing for your attention. If in the midst of these “distractions” you can maintain good eye contact, the person you’re talking with will feel valued when speaking and more interested when you are speaking.

 

 

 

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Confirm interest verbally – An occasional “I hear you, that makes sense, or I’m sorry to hear that,” goes a long way in demonstrating to others your interest and attention. This is a habit generally more common among women than men.  Make a habit of a few verbal confirmations in every conversation, especially the emotionally-charged and difficult ones. Your listener will really feel you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree.

 

 

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Face your listenerUse your body language to communicate “approachability” rather than distance. That means facing the person you are speaking with, focusing in on them and what they have to say.

 

 


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Communicate To communicate receptivity, openness, and a willingness to listen, unfold your arms. Uncross your legs. A relaxed body stance invites trust and demonstrates you are open to their thoughts and comments. It doesn’t mean you agree, just that you are open to other points of view.

 

 

Use Your Senses

Great communicators use more than one sense to communicate. That means auditory skills to listen; visual senses to observe another’s body language, facial expressions and gestures; kinetics to feel and sense the emotion and energy of the conversation; and even an occasional appropriate, supportive touch to connect and say what words cannot (it goes without saying the “touch” is non-threatening, non-sexual and appropriate to the situation). Don’t forget your intuition as another sense to utilize!

By implementing these simple steps and using multiple senses in communications, your talks will be more connected, more powerful, and more trustworthy whether you are chatting it up at home or at the office.

What simple acts make YOU a great communicator? Got any tips to share with our readers?

Office Talk: Ten Changes to Make Now

watch your mouth

 To immediately improve your communications at home and in the office, make these “don’ts” rules to live by.

Don’t begin sentences with “honestly, truthfully, frankly, or to be honest.”  Doing so implies that what you said before might not be honest. If you are honest in your communications, you will never need to say so. Your words will speak for themselves.

 

Avoid adding “but” between sentences. Use “and” instead. “But” negates everything you said before it.

 

Don’t use absolutes like “you always” or “you never.”  It’s rarely true and doing so exaggerates, quickly making people defensive.

 

Don’t let your tone and body language contradict each other. Get all aspects of yourself in line. If your tone is carries a different meaning than your choice of words, your listener will always go with the tone.

 

Don’t be a steam roller  OR  a pushover.  Neither extreme is effective in business or in relationships. Find a balance of being firm and assertive, while also being open and flexible.

 

Don’t “collect stamps” saving up old “wrongs” to use later as surprise attacks in conversation. Deal with issues when they occur. Don’t collect them for later. Stuffing issues only makes them fester and expand.

 

Don’t beat around the bush. Good communications can be challenging enough. Don’t complicate things by beating around the bush and making your listener work to figure out what your words mean.  Just get to the point with direct, clear statements.

 

Don’t deliver your feedback and bad news in a “sandwich” surrounded by positive words. Combining good and bad news as a sandwich is confusing and misses the point. If you have bad news to deliver, or negative feedback, speak up. Be honest and straight so your listener can hear the real message. 

 

Don’t come in guns blazing without thinking through your intentions and approach for a difficult conversation. Especially when the news is hard to hear, be sure you don’t just shoot from the hip unprepared. Think things through….then speak.

 

Don’t say “You  made me feel……..”  When sharing your feelings, own them. Don’t shift your feelings to be someone else’s responsibility. Start your sentences with “I”, not “you.” 

 

Making these simple changes in your conversations will have an immediate impact. Your listener will feel more at ease and you’ll find the entire communication easier, and less tense.

Give it a shot…try a few of these and then let me know in “comments” how your next difficult conversation goes using all or any of these rules. After you’ve mastered these rules, share them with your department and watch communications improve for everyone!

How “Gender Speak” Damages Office Productivity

communications differencesYou might not know the term “gender speak,” but you experience it every time you converse with the opposite sex.  It’s the difference in communication patterns for men and women.  That means not only what we say, but the way we say it.

Gender speak is about our tone of voice, our inflection, and our body language. It includes eye movement, how close we stand, whether we interrupt, how we listen, even whether we ask many questions. Gender differences in communications cover a broad spectrum of habits and behaviors.

Unfortunately, these differences are the cause of much confusion.  Each sex tends to interpret the communication of the other sex through their own gender filter. That changes the meaning and intent of the message. It shifts nuances.

And we know what that leads to…..misunderstanding. Confusion. Conflict. Mistakes. Frustration.office arguing

In our personal relationships, most of us are accustomed to some of these communication differences. Over years together in a romantic relationship, we learn to navigate our different gender styles of talking. We KNOW there is a difference in our approaches.

In an office setting, however, we just aren’t as tuned in to each other.  We’re in business mode, not let’s-all-try-to-understand-each-other mode. Often we react to what we think we heard, processing communications through our perceptions and patterns. We may see the body language and hear the words, but the meaning we give it is from OUR gender’s perspective.  We think little about what the speaker intended, what they meant. That’s when things go sideways and communications suffer.

When a businessman notices his female business colleague asking many questions, he knows what it means—-to him. To him, she is uncertain and exhibits a lack of confidence. He loses respect for her and doubts her credibility. What he doesn’t know is asking lots of questions has a different meaning for her. It is a natural pattern of female conversation. To her and to other women, it has nothing to do with certainty. Yes, some questions are to clarify, but in general women ask questions to create connection. Women are socialized to connect, to pull others in and include them in conversation. Most women remain unaware their questions are costing them personal power and respect in the workplace.

Another female tendency is taking in a lot more peripheral information during conversation. Women notice manner of dress, body language, facial expressions, and even what’s going on in the background. Men focus more on a speaker’s content and don’t tend to notice or care about these same details. More often than not, men don’t make it a practice to read between the lines and try to read other’s non-verbal clues. For women, this is a sure sign of men’s  indifference and lack of interest. For men, it’s the opposite meaning.

In each case, two interpretations of the same actions create two different perceptions, leading to potential misunderstandings and differing opinions on someone’s power, competence, and leadership skills. The challenges are especially apparent in a business setting because so much is unsaid and, unfortunately, politics play an important role in career success.

Here are just a few of the many communication differences among men and women:

 Women tend to:

  • End sentences with a raised inflection
  • Rely heavily on non-verbal cues
  • Nod their heads and smile to confirm their interest
  • Use conversation to establish connection and intimacy

Men tend to:

  • Speak in directives
  • Focus more on content than non-verbal cues
  • Consider it more polite to just listen and not confirm interest
  • Use language to negotiate status and power

The important thing to remember is neither behavioral pattern is right or wrong, better or worse. They are just different, and unless we learn to “translate” gender communication styles, misunderstandings are bound to keep affecting our bottom line in business.

We will continue thinking we know what is being said, when in fact we are assigning a different meaning than our speaker intends. We will continue to make inaccurate judgments about each other’s personal skills, intentions, and needs.

If instead, we learn and understand gender speak and what it entails, we will be aware and informed of our gender communication differences.  We’ll be able to check in and confirm with each other what meaning was intended. We’ll be aware there are differences and will be better prepared to deal with them, both at work and at home. We might even be able to laugh at them.

By learning what meaning both sexes give to the same habits, by learning what each sex needs from the other to feel heard and understood, we can bridge the gender gap and work better together with more understanding.

Think of your recent communications at work. Got any great stories to share about costly misunderstandings created by gender speak?

 

Thought for the Day

Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech. Apparently, 80% of what you understand in a conversation is read through body, not words.”   by Deborah Bull