Date: On Demand (access any time)
Investment: $285 per person
(Discounts for multiple participants)
INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching
Being an excellent communicator is probably one of the most important skills that you can have in today’s workplace. Good communication is the foundation for every interaction and for every relationship you have at work. Effective communication skills can help you when you need to inform your colleagues of something important, meeting with a customer, or persuading your manager to accept your idea.
To put your mind at rest, the truth is that most people aren’t born with excellent communication skills. Good communication skills are developed over time and with practice. Being an effective communicator isn’t something that will benefit you only at work. It can also pay huge dividends at home and in every aspect of your personal life.
The purpose of all communication is being able to get your message across to the other person (or people) in a clear manner. This means that you must be able to successfully convey your thoughts and ideas so that people clearly understand what you are talking about.
If you and the words coming out of your mouth are incongruent, you will experience communication breakdown. This in turn creates roadblocks that will not only frustrate those people you are trying to connect with, but will also prevent you from achieving your professional and personal goals.
Almost all employment recruiters will tell you that when everything else seems to be similar on a potential employees resume, communication skills is often the number one deciding factor when choosing employees. A survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School, points out that communication skills, including written and oral presentations, as well as an ability to communicate well and work with others, are the main factors contributing to job success.
In this training session we will focus on six ways to help you become a better communicator, these are:
- Be approachable
- Maintain eye contact and be interested
- Talking terms of other people’s interests
- Listen (actively) and don’t interrupt
- Mirror the person
- Understand the power of questions
Ideas to Develop Your Communication Skills
1. Be Approachable
One of the easiest ways to be a better communicator is to show people that you are a positive and approachable person. People want to talk to people that they think are open and willing to listen to them. Nobody likes trying to establish a conversation, or even make eye contact with someone who looks intimidating, angry, stressed or even preoccupied.
Looking approachable is all about body language. It’s your body language that most people are going to judge you on before making their first impressions of you. For starters, you can look positive and approachable by smiling. It seems such a simple concept, but the very fact that there is a smile on your face sends a message to others that you are approachable. No one wants to talk to someone who scowls, seems weird-looking, creepy or looks disinterested.
It is not only your facial expressions that reveal how approachable you are. Your body language also communicates how open you are to communicating. So always ensure that your body language is open. This means that you should use open facial and hand gestures that make you appear to be friendly and approachable. If you’re not quite sure how your facial expressions and body language looks to others, ask for feedback about how you come across from someone you trust. After they have given you their feedback, try and incorporate their comments into the way you look to others.
2. Maintain eye contact and look interested
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who looked everywhere else except at you? As this person’s eyes wandered everywhere else, you got the distinct impression that they did not seem to be interested in what you had to say. How did you feel about that conversation and interaction?
When you are in a face-to-face conversation with someone, say at work, turn off your computer monitor and don’t be distracted by incoming messages on your phone. For those few moments, give the person in front of you your undivided attention. Your eye contact shows that you are listening to what they have to say and also that you are interested in what they are talking about. This does not mean you need to stare at the person and make them uncomfortable, but maintaining eye contact during a conversation also tells you at that moment in time, he is the most important person to you.
In some regions of the world, such as many parts of Asia, any form of eye contact is considered rude. Don’t be surprised if, because of cultural reasons, some people will not look you fair and square in the eye while talking to you. They are not being rude. Quite the contrary. They are trying to show you respect. Likewise, if you are talking to someone from a different cultural background, try not to maintain too strong a glare.
3. Talk in terms of other people’s interests
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who spent the entire time talking about themselves and their achievements? This person did not let you get in a word edgewise. Even if you did manage to talk about something you had done, there’s a good chance they tried to trump your efforts with something that they have achieved. Please, don’t be like this type of person. A good communicator will always try and talk in terms of what the other person likes and wants.
One of the easiest ways of becoming a great communicator is to think about what the other person you are talking to is wanting to achieve in the conversation. You see, regardless of who you are or what you do, everybody wants to feel important and special. So why not you make the people you are talking to feel special?
If you are trying to persuade a customer to buy one of your products or services, talk in terms of how she is going to benefit by owning. Don’t talk about how wonderful the product is itself. When someone asks for your opinion, try not to give it. Instead, turn the question around and ask the person what they like about it.
Many years ago a young lady was seated next to Sir Winston Churchill in a state function. At the time Churchill was the Prime Minister of England and one of the most recognisable people in all the world. Anybody who was anybody would give an arm or a leg to have the chance to sit next to him over dinner and engage in a robust conversation.
At the end of the dinner, one of the young lady’s friends asked her what it was like to sit next to Churchill. “It was amazing!” she replied. “I didn’t realise what an interesting, intelligent and fascinating person I really am.” Sir Winston Churchill could have spent the whole night boring her with politics, world affairs, or his own amazing achievements. Instead, he spent the night asking her questions and making the young lady feel important and special.
Whenever you are trying to persuade somebody else to do something, always think about their interests in wanting to do this and talk in those terms. Never give people impression that you are only interested in yourself.
4. Listen (actively) and don’t interrupt
Perhaps you’re wondering why we are discussing listening at a communication seminar? After all, isn’t communicating all about talking? The answer of course is no. Most people will be more impressed with you when you listen to them, rather than when you speak to them.
This is especially true if you are a man and want to listen to a woman. Women generally tend to make better listeners, so if you are reading this and you are a male, take note. Women tend to be far more impressed when they feel they are being listened to.
When in a conversation with a customer or colleague, the worst thing you can do is to keep interrupting them by trying to get your story out. It’s even worse when you interrupt them, change the topic completely, or go off on some type of tangent.
When you are listening, listen actively, which means give them visual nods and verbal noises. Nod your head, and paraphrase what they said, or reframe their statements or questions when there is a pause in the conversation. Asking questions and nodding communicates that you are listening closely to what is being said and that you are actively interested in them and the conversation.
5. ‘Mirror’ the person you’re talking to
To truly communicate with someone you need to be in sync with them. For many years now, body language experts have known that when two people are in rapport, they tend to mirror each other quite unconsciously. Mirroring is when you subtly copy the body gestures of the other person, while the two of you are conversing. This idea fits in with point number three, which is that people like people who are like them. Research suggests that when you are able to mirror someone, physically and emotionally you can also start to sense how they are feeling.
The easiest thing that you can mirror about another person is their general posture and body language. If the person you are talking to crosses their legs, you can do the same (although not immediately). You can also mirror a person’s tone of voice, volume and even their rate of speech. If the person talks loud and fast, you can talk a little bit louder and faster also. Mirroring should not be robotic or done in synchronisation. This would look too obvious and appear false.
There are thousands of websites dedicated to body language, as well as the art of mirroring. If this idea seems foreign to you, or you still find it hard to believe that subtly mirroring someone’s gestures could bring you closer to them and improve your communication, then you should make some time to do some internet research.
In most cases the person with whom you are communicating will not be consciously aware that they are in rapport with you. Although they will know is that there is something about you that they like. When you have total rapport with somebody else, you will find that as you start to change your body movements, the other person will start to do the same. This is called deep rapport and is essential when communicating.
6. Use the power of asking questions
Questions are a very useful tool when communicating. Questions help you to understand what the other person is trying to say by encouraging them to share more information. Questions also help to verify the information you already have.
When verifying information or asking for agreement, you can use yes or no questions, also known as close-ended questions. When you want to encourage people to talk or express themselves, you may want to use open-ended questions like – ‘What do you feel about this?’ or, ‘What would you do in this situation?’ Good communication isn’t simply about having something to say. It’s also asking other people useful questions. Questions show that you are listening and that you want to know more about whatever it is you are both discussing. The person who asks more questions generally controls the conversation and has the greater influence.