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:

mom with teenager

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.

 

 

 

respond baby

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.

 

 


open door green 
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?

Are You the Great Listener You Think You Are?

judge judy

Judy Judge, in her popular small claims court TV show, reminds the participants often “We have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.”  If you’re a fan, you know her other favorite expression is “listening ears, listening ears.”

How are you at listening? Do you have your listening ears on?

If instead of focusing on the speaker, you,

  • interrupt often
  • talk over them to make your point
  • finish their sentences for them
  • formulate your response while they speak
  • hear only parts of the conversations
  • tune out shortly after they begin to speak…….

Then your listening skills don’t meet Judge Judy’s standards. And most likely, they are not serving you well at home or work.

To be a good communicator, you have to listen well. Period. There’s no sugar-coating it.listening ears

And when it comes to difficult conversations, listening skills are crucial because the stakes are higher in tough conversations. There’s more emotion. There’s more defensiveness. More left unsaid. In a difficult conversation, everyone is a bit tense. It’s not likely you can resolve a tough issue in a conversation when you aren’t hearing what is said.

As you read this post, be honest…are you thinking to yourself, “I’m a great listener?” Or do you know deep down that your listening ears could use a good cleaning out?

Challenge: Here’s a challenge for you to discover the truth about your listening skills with only two steps:

  1. Enlist help. Ask someone close to you (who will tell you the truth) to call you out for the next three days. Tell them about the challenge and ask them to raise their index finger every time they observe you interrupting, talking over, tuning out, or finishing other’s thoughts for the next three days. Make note of how often they need to point out your lack of good listening, and of course, don’t bite their head off when they catch you.
  2. Play it back. For the next three days, commit to repeating back to others what you heard them say.  No need to go word for word. Just confirm you heard them. You got their meaning. You are listening. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to review your performance.  Do you listen or only in part? Generally were you able to mirror their comments, or were you lost in your own thoughts?

If you are tempted to blow off this challenge, give this some thought:

We can’t get what we don’t give.

That means if you suck at listening, you can’t expect others to be attentive when you speak. How will you gain their attention if you aren’t giving it? Why would you think you deserve it if you don’t give it?

What comes around, goes around.

To be an effective communicator, a great boss, a good husband, a loving friend, a great parent, you need to listen well.

To listen well, you have to make the effort and create the habit.

To make the effort, you have to care enough about the other person and/or the outcome of the situation to choose to hear the conversation.

Skip the above behaviors and you can expect others will skip them with you.

It’s only by hearing what is being said, that you can ascertain:

listening = learning

    • what others need
    • what the situation demands
    • what their feelings and emotions are

It’s counter-intuitive. To be great at what you do or whatever role you are in, you have to be a great listener. In the end, listening well affects YOUR success, YOUR relationships, YOUR reputation.

If you’ve been thinking listening is all about the other person, it’s time to change your point of view. Great listening, in the end, is all about you. The better you listen, the more effective and successful you are.

Do I have your attention yet? Being a great listener benefits YOU.  Stay tuned for Part II on listening to pick up some habits and routines that will make listening easy.

In the meantime, will you do the challenge? I’ve got my listening ears on and would love to hear your thoughts.

Who Are You Listening to….Them or You?

Be honest. What’s your motivation for listening?

Though we hate to admit it, most of us are listening with the focus on what we’ll say next.  Often we reply before the speaker is even done talking, so sure are we that we know what they are about to say.

listen to respond

Could this be you?

That’s not really listening. That’s making it all about “us.”

Have you ever responded to someone so quickly that they had not finished speaking yet? I recently busted myself. I replied too, too fast, feeling pretty sure I knew what my husband was about to say. Not only did I have to own up to interrupting, but my response had nothing to do with where he was going in the conversation.

True listening is about hearing the speaker. Both what they are saying and what they are not. It’s about catching their tone, their meaning, and their feelings about what they are communicating. What is NOT said is sometimes more important than what is. Body language and tone often beat out words as being more true.

This week, let’s keep it simple. Observe yourself, at home and at work, when you are listening. See just how often it’s to compose your reply before you have truly heard what is being said.

Then, if you want to be a better communicator, switch gears. Tune in. Pay attention. HEAR what is and isn’t being said. Truly listen. I guarantee it will change your reply, as well as the feelings you and the speaker have during your conversation.

I’ll be waiting for your comments, your outcomes. I’ll be waiting to hear how you caught yourself, what you observed and even what shifted.