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Having good communication skills is very important in all areas of life- at work, in social settings, in friendships and relationships, and even with family. Becoming a good communicator takes some practice and gets better with time.
As people, we naturally like to keep the focus of conversations on ourselves and our experiences and thoughts, but does that mean that if you speak about yourself you’re a good communicator? Not exactly.
I believe that whether or not you are a good communicator, that can make or break a conversation. Even though a lot of us think we are good communicators, paying attention to our mannerisms while conversing can make a huge difference in how the conversation goes.
It took me a long time to learn how to communicate the best I can, and although I still have a lot to learn about communicating with others, here is what I’d learned over the years.
Listen more than you speak
However hard it is for you to keep the focus off of yourself when someone comes to you with a problem or something they’re dealing with, it is definitely something you should do. Listen when someone talks about themselves or their issues and instead of telling a story of something similar that happened to you, ask the other person questions about their issues. Let them have the floor, and ask them open-ended questions to get them to open up more.
Facts vs opinions
Here’s the thing, we aren’t always correct about everything. When we speak with others, it’s beneficial to keep an open mind and not act like we know it all, because we don’t. Learn how to differentiate between when something is a fact and when something is just your opinion. Most importantly, if it is your opinion, don’t try to impose it on others. Don’t lecture, and don’t get over-emotional if the other person doesn’t agree with what you are saying. Your conversation will end faster than you know it.
Body language matters
When speaking to someone, your body language can either give off the impression that you are interested in what the other person is saying, or the opposite. For example, if you subconsciously have your arms crossed, it may seem like you are being defensive. Paying attention to how you’re sitting or standing, keeping your arms at your sides, keeping eye contact, and showing the other person that you are actually interested by nodding once in a while shows that you are interested in the conversation.
Wait for your turn to speak
Letting the other person finish speaking before you start will show that you are easy to talk to, and won’t make you seem self-important. Have patience, even if the other person is speaking too slow for you or is taking a long time to turn their thoughts into words.
Think before you speak
Sometimes you will have to have difficult conversations- it’s inevitable. The trick with those conversations is to gather your thoughts and speak in a manner that will not blow the situation out of proportion or cause more harm than good. Follow the rule: It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Be tactful but firm and get your points across without yelling or throwing a fit.