Communication is essential for so many aspects in your life, including as we step into work as leaders, organizers, facilitators, direct care providers, and consultants. In fact, communication accounts for about 70% of a person’s life. Which is why it’s surprising (and a little bit scary) that the average person does not communicate well! You see, communication is often thought of as sharing your own ideas or thoughts with others versus listening to others when in fact, one of the most crucial components of effective communication is purposefully listening to someone with the intent to understand them. Unfortunately, rather than effectively listening, people often surface-level-listen as they wait for their chance to speak. Although this isn’t often intentional, it’s not really unintentional — listening is hard work! In addition to listening, there are other communication barriers, which include judging others, presenting unsolicited solutions, and minimizing or skipping over others’ concerns. To overcome these barriers, we have three skills you can apply on your path to better, more effective communication!
First, be fully present, both physically and mentally when engaging in a conversation. This means listening with your whole body. To do this, you should have a relaxed alertness, face them squarely, slightly lean your body forward, maintain an open position, and maintain eye contact.
Second, embrace the silence! Silence can be a good thing during conversations. When there is silence, don’t interrupt and rush a response from the other person. Silence allows the speaker a chance to better think and develop an answer that will be more meaningful. It gives them the time to be able to actually express themselves and how they feel. In addition, you should also be taking a moment to reflect on your response when you are the speaker for the same reasons. On the other hand, too much silence can be just as unpleasant as no silence. If the silence does get too long, then it is okay to say something kindly that nudges them to keep the conversation going.
Third, you should maintain self-awareness and a reflective approach. This helps demonstrate understanding and acceptance. A reflective response is where the listener repeats the content or feelings the speaker has shared. There are four ways to do this, which includes paraphrasing (i.e., concise overview of the content shared), reflecting feelings (i.e., encourage feelings), reflecting meanings (i.e., reflect feelings and content together), and summative reflections (i.e., summarize the main ideas and feelings mentioned to tie the whole conversation together).
If you are interested in learning more, you can register for our mini course, 3 Tips Towards Better Communication. Registration details can be found here:
Not into the online course format? That’s okay – you can access our downloadable resource guide below!
*This blog was inspired by Bolton’s People Skills book.