Effective communication can be the key to success. The ability to express ideas, emotions, concerns, and understanding creates an environment for unprecedented problem solving, creativity, and conflict resolution. Here are five communications essentials that all professional’s need to know.
The primary key to effective communication is effective listening. People flourish in an environment where they know they are being heard and understood. This creates a feeling of safety, decreases negative emotions, and saves time by making communication more efficient.
To be a good listener:
- Focus on the person speaking.
- Don’t multi-task when someone is talking to you.
- Avoid interrupting people when they are talking, especially to interject something about yourself.
- Do not be judgmental about what is being said and actively show interest in the speaker.
Most of what we say is communicated using nonverbal cues, better known as body language. Facial expressions, breathing, tone of voice, eye contact, body position, and the way we look, listen and move all send signals out to those we are trying to communicate with.
To enhance your nonverbal communication:
- Use open body language by keeping your arms and legs uncrossed.
- Keeping good eye contact.
- Stay in a forward body position as opposed to one that is leaning back or closed off.
Stress is a communication killer. When you or those around you are stressed it causes negative emotions, inhibits creativity, causes people to become guarded, and promotes confusion.
The best thing is to start by addressing your own stress. A room full of stressed people simply multiplies the overall amount of stress. However, one calm, in control person brings the stress level in a group down significantly.
- Recognizing your own stress and what’s causing it.
- Use deep breathing to help regulate your bodies physical stress response and bring down the amount of stress hormones in your system.
- Step back and get a broader perspective of the problem.
- Use humor to diffuse negative feelings.
- Use data to define the situation, not negative emotions and suppositions.
Emotions play a big part in how we communicate, both on a personal and professional level. They not only impact how we feel but how we think. Knowing where someone is coming from on an emotional level frames the context of what they are saying.
- Knowing your own emotional state so you are aware of how you are hearing what is being said.
- Understand and empathize with the needs of others so you know where they are communicating from.
- Do everything you can to inhibit negative emotion and promote positive emotions.
- Stay engaged even if you do not like the person or what they are saying.
Good communication takes time and energy. There are no shortcuts. If you are tired, low on energy, or distracted people will know and it will negatively impact your ability to communicate. So take steps to manage your life so you are in good health, get enough sleep and have the strength and desire to be an effective communicator.
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