How often do you encounter someone who is an excellent communicator? They communicate in an engaging way that is timely, concise, using appropriate tone, tact, and pacing? This person would also be able to communicate “enough,” and not just the bare bones, leaving you to fill in the blanks and figure it out as you go along. More than just their words, this person would also use non-verbal communication to let you know that you’re valuable and important and that what they’re trying to say to you is likewise valuable and important.
Did you know that less than 10% of what the experts consider “communication” is the communicator’s actual words? Tone and body language make up over 90% of what we say by virtue of how we’re actually saying it. What if you angrily screamed at your partner while waving your arms hysterically, “I LOVE YOU!” That would present mixed messages wouldn’t it?
Most of the middle to upper positions within any company in the world requires good communication, both written and when speaking in front of others, however, communication is a skill that we often take for granted. We could all use more practice in “upping” our own communication abilities.
Below are some tips when it comes to good communication habits:
Eye Contact: Look the person in the eye but don’t stare. More than 5-7 seconds makes the other person feel uncomfortable.
Body Language and Position: Arms either at your side or in front of you using gestures with your hands, but not too many gestures, which can be distracting. Crossed arms are typically a sign of defensiveness or discomfort with the situation or another person.
- Tone: does your tone of voice come from a place of confidence and respect, both in yourself and to the person with whom you are speaking? This is often one of the hardest to master!
Take a deep breath before you speak. It will allow you to compose your initial statement and prepare mentally for being in front of others.
Pause rather than ramble or use filler words such as “um…like…you know…that stuff.”
Slow down your speech. Having too hurried of speech can make others nervous as they’re trying to keep up with your own nervous energy. Slow things down and allow yourself time to process before you speak. It’ll also cut down on repetition, rambling, and filler words.
- Concise: don’t repeat yourself unless you’re repeating one thing just one time for emphasis.
These tips may not work for every person in every situation, however, nonetheless, they can be helpful in many group, corporate, or team settings. When was the last time you asked a peer or supervisor about how you communicate? Challenge yourself to do this in the next month and get some feedback on how you can improve your own communication skills. Doing it will not only better yourself, but build accountability with another person and may even open the door for mentorship within the ranks. It’s always risky to be vulnerable, but it’s more costly to be stuck, AND all of these principles are part of executing a Behavior Based Safety model for your business. It’s something people have to believe in and not just give lip service to. If you’re a leader within your team or business, take the time to role model and get feedback on your communication skills. Whether it’s for your or for your team, you never know what doors may open down the road if you take this first step!