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Success and Communication

August 20, 2011

Success and Communication

Everything we do in life requires communication. Personal and business success often hinges on how well we understand others and how well they can understand us. If one of the objectives of communication is achieving a shared understanding, what can you do to become more effective when communicating?

Here are few tips that will help you become a more effective communicator:

Do you make eye contact when speaking or listening?

Yes, this is simple suggestion. Take a moment to think about how you feel when someone connects with you in this way. Do you feel really listened to? Does it seem that the person is focused on you and the message you want to convey? Adding a couple of head nods will also demonstrate to the speaker you are really listening and interested in what s/he is saying. Making these simple adjustments in your behavior will help improve your communication.

Do you keep from interrupting and the let person finish what s/he is saying?

One way to enhance your listening skills is to spend more time listening. One of the challenges inherent in listening is that we speak at the rate of 125 to 150 words per minute and we think at the rate of 500 words per minute. That leaves a lot of time for a listener to wander off into his or her own thoughts, jump to conclusions or formulate a response before the speaker has finished saying what they want to say. One way you can stay focused and present in a conversation is by “listening” for the speaker’s non-verbal communication. One estimate has it that 75% of all communication is non-verbal. So, with the extra 350 or so words of thinking time you have available when you are listening, focus on the speaker and what they are communicating non-verbally.

Do your words and actions match?

Since communication occurs both verbally and non-verbally, it is important to make the message consistent. Send one message, not two. For example, have you ever found your posture rigid or tense while saying: “I’m fine, everything is just great.” There are two messages being sent. The body is sending one message and the words are sending another. Another example of this is a feeling you can get that someone isn’t telling you the whole story. Next time you have this sensation in a business or personal interaction, look at the person’s body language and/or facial expression. Are the non-verbal cues in alignment with the words being spoken? When verbal and non-verbal communication is in sync, the message is perceived as genuine.

Does your vocal tone and inflexion match the words you are saying?

How you say the words of your message is as important as the words you use when expressing yourself. Think of the phrase, “Thank you” and the variety of ways it can be spoken. Depending on how the words are emphasized it will change the meaning. The same phrase can mean authentic gratitude or sarcasm. Think about the phrase, “Come here”. A parent speaking to a misbehaving child will have a different vocal tone than someone in a business context using the same phrase. Even the word “yes”, can have many meanings depending on how it is emphasized. A soft “yes” has a different meaning than a “YES” that is enthusiastic and forceful. Matching your intonation and inflexion to the message you intend to convey will increase your effectiveness when you communicate.

Are you aware of your barriers and filters?

Everyone has a point of view and at times it will affect how one communicates. Just think about the last time you were having a conversation with your spouse or significant other and then somehow, in a split second, you found yourself in the middle of an argument. How did things shift so quickly? One of you hit a trigger in the other, that’s how things can change so quickly. We all have triggers and in order to communicate responsibly in personal and business relationships it is imperative to know what they are. Everyone has an opinion and is a result of his/her background; the challenge when communicating is to become aware of how these two factors can shut down the communication process.

In the communication process the speaker AND the listener are equally responsible for the success of the interaction. And, because communication is a process, the roles are constantly shifting during a conversation. The speaker becomes the listener who becomes the speaker and so on.

These tips are just a few of the ways you can become more effective in your role as a speaker or listener. Remember, one of the primary needs that communication fulfills is the need to connect with other people. Incorporating any of these suggestions will give you greater access to connection, as well as personal and business success.

Check out my new profile — I’ve made a few changes recently and wanted to get in touch and let you know. When you get a chance, send me an update. It would be great to hear from you.

Thanks!
-SRINIVASAN VANAMALI

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From → Life Skills

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