How to Be a Better Communicator
BY ALEK V // Reliable Strategies
What is Good Communication?
If you want to be more successful and improve your personal effectiveness you need to master communication.
Mastery means that you excel in all aspects of interpersonal communication.
More than words, you understand the subtleties of human behaviour, physiology and non verbal communication.
You know what to say, when to say it and how to say it.
Everyone has their own way, or model, of communicating.
It takes flexibility and skill to connect with all those different communication models.
Communication mastery starts out as a conscious endeavour.
When it becomes automated and unconscious you do it without even noticing you're doing it.
You'll find yourself connecting with people and you'll notice people seem comfortable when they're around with you.
Communication mastery doesn't mean you're talking all the time.
In fact, most of the time you're listening and observing.
How Do You Communicate?
What's would you say is your communication style?
Do you take control of the conversation or do you let others take the lead and and submissively agree to the consensus?
When you speak are you long winded? Brief? Boring? or Dynamic?
Go through the following list of poor communication habits.
Sometimes you don't realise you're doing something until it's pointed out to you.
Once you recognise your ares for improvement you can start taking steps to become a better communicator.
Communication Habits to Avoid
Interrupting unnecessarily is a rude and unattractive trait.
Talk less and listening more.
No-one wants to be around a rude person.
People will listen to you less because in their minds they already don't like you.
Even if you have some great ideas, your rudeness will discount them in the earls of your listeners.
Rapport is the key to effective and free-lowing communication.
When you feel the need to interrupt, catch yourself and let the other person finish.
Listen to what they say. Acknowledge their message, then reply.
2. Getting Distracted
One way to break rapport fast is to show the other person you're not interested in what they have to say.
Yawing, constantly looking away, or checking your watch or phone while they're speaking are particularly poor form.
You need to be present and attentive to keep the other person attentive when it's your time to speak.
Don't just nod in agreement and say 'yes'. Listen to what the person is trying to say.
Not only their words but the message behind the words (sometimes words don't accurately convey the message).
Look the other person in the eyes.
Show empathy and try to understand what frame they're coming from.
Forget about the emails you need to reply to or what you're having for lunch.
Be fully present and engaged in the conversation.
3. Too Much Talking
Have you ever been in conversation with someone who just doesn't stop talking?
Are you that person?
If what you have to say is fascinating and people want to hear you, that's one thing.
But if it's everyday drivel and takes you five minutes to say what could have been said in thirty seconds, you need to talk less.
Unless you're a dynamic speaker with a captive audience, when you talk too much people lose interest.
Say what you want to say clearly and concisely, then stop speaking.
Before you start rambling think about what you want to say and deliver a condensed version.
Package your message and deliver it in a simple straight forward manner.
Be direct and to the point.
Clearly state what you have to say then stop speaking and start listening
4. Being Too Self-Focused
Don't centre the conversation around yourself.
Aside from becoming boring your listeners will lose interest.
Loss of rapport then follows.
Share your opinions and perspectives, sure.
But be wary of bringing every topic in the conversation back to yourself.
Common experience builds rapport and gives meaning to the interaction.
People like people who are like themselves.
Share the best of yourself with your listeners and then throw the ball back to them.
Let them speak. About themselves if they want to.
Just don't do it yourself.
5. Using 'But' and 'Like' Too Much
When you use “but” in your sentences it negates everything you said before it.
“I love you but…”
“You look great but…”
“He’s a nice guy but…”
You can't avoid the word completely.
Try to replace the word 'but' with 'and'.
“He's a nice guy, and he could also be more understanding”.
“I love you, and we need to improve our relationship".
By replacing one word you can send an entirely different message to your listener.
That small change from "but" to "and" will elicit a better response.
The same goes for 'like'.
If you use the term 'like' every few words, anything valuable you say will be lost.
Your listener won't hear you anymore. All they'll hear is the 'like'.
After a while they'll either end the conversation or stand there pretending to listen.
Small details like these, used in the right context at the right moment, are what separate master communicators from the amateurs.
Catch yourself if you're using "likes" and "buts".
Cut them out of your vocabulary as much as you can.
Use a better alternative.
6. Not Listening
Exceptional communication is more than what you say and how you say it.
You ears are valuable tools in your communication arsenal.
Your ears are for listening.
Use them for the purpose they were given to you.
The most fundamental element of communication is listening.
If you don't listen you don't receive the message properly. You reply haphazardly and inaccurately.
This is how conversations go astray.
You can gain very valuable insight about people when you listen closely to their words.
Use your ears for their intended purpose.
7. Bad Body Language
Physiology and non verbal cues tell you more about a person than their words ever could.
Watch closely and you can read someone quite well.
Eye contact. Tone of voice. Posture and presence.
If you slouch or have a weak posture you have poor body language.
When you can't hold eye contact and move with volition it weakens your message, no matter how great your ideas.
Watch a man approach a woman and observe their non-verbal communication.
If he approaches with the right physiology his results will be a lot better than if his body language is weak or supplicant.
In any interaction check your body language.
Adjust yourself before hand if need be.
Effective communication is so little about the actual words you use, and so much about everything else.
Benefits of Good Communication
When you focus and take action you can improve any skill.
Look at people you believe are the best communicators.
What makes them so effective?
Contrast their communication style with your own.
Where you are now is irrelevant.
What matters is the direction you're headed.
Being a better communicator, even by 5% or 10% can dramatically change your life.
When you can better get along with people and express yourself, the doors of opportunity will open for you.
Your career, relationships, and your self confidence all benefit from being a better communicator.
How to Com
municate With Mastery
1. Listen More
There's a lot more to effective communication than speaking.
Pay attention to "what's being said behind the words".
Listen. Summarise what they've said to show you’re listening.
Acknowledge what the other person is saying with a “yes”, “ok”, or “uh-ha” then let them keep talking.
When you listen with empathy and a genuine interest rapport builds naturally and effortlessly.
Once you've gained rapport you can steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go.
But the most important step is to listen.
2. Make Good Eye Contact
Good eye contact conveys a message that says "I'm with you and I'm interested in what you have to say".
How would you feel if you're speaking and your listener is looking at the floor or checking their phone.
Stay focused an pay attention.
If you're good you can even send subliminal messages to the other person through your eyes.
But that's for another post.
You've probably heard the old adage "the eyes are the window to the soul".
Don't stare continually into their eyes without the occasional break. That comes off as creepy.
To be a better communicator, use and maintain good eye contact throughout the interaction.
3. Ask Questions
Questions are a powerful communication tool.
When you ask legitimate questions you show interest and engagement in what's being said.
Asking questions is also sign of intelligence.
You're mind wants to learn more and is searching for more information.
Questions help you to learn more about the other persons perspective.
You can use your questions to steer the conversation in the direction you want it to go.
Be natural and genuine. Don't sound like a robot.
Ask questions related to the topic of conversation.
Don't sound like a robot or that your reading rom a script.
Always be natural and genuine in your communication.
4. Use Good Physiology
In any type of interaction, always be aware of physiology.
When you use good physiology you send a message of congruence and presence.
Physiology says more than words.
With the right physiology you can convey your message more effectively.
Some basic tenets of physiology are;
- Arms crossed
- Shoulders slouched or closed
- Eyes looking down or away
- Facial expression shows disinterest or hostility
- Head down
- Body facing away
- Arms close to body
- Palms facing away
- Good eye contact
- Shoulders back and open
- Chest out
- Head back
- Arms open
- Palms open/facing towards
- Wider stance
- Body facing parallel
- Hand movement coincides with speech
Be sure to use open physiology when you communicate.
Good physiology gives you an added edge.
Move your hands when you speak.
Use good eye contact and smile while speaking in a clear and forthright manner.
Represent yourself with a sense of strength and authority, strategically leading the interaction.
One thing to remember when reading people's physiology.
Don't jump to conclusions. Just because someone has their arms crossed it doesn't mean they don't like you. Maybe they're cold.
Physiology cues should be taken in clusters.
Look for more than one indication before you make your judgement.
5. Project Your Voice With Confidence
When speaking always project confidence in your voice.
Volume, tone and pitch, and the speed at which you speak.
They all combine to form an impression on your listeners as to your confidence and congruence.
Don't be cocky or arrogant. But do portray yourself as a person who knows and believes in what you're saying.
When you portray confidence, people assume that you know what you’re talking about, and they tend to go along with what you're saying.
There was an experiment that confirmed this.
One group had a teacher speaking who was an expert in their field.
They presented their information in a dry and introverted manner.
Even though they knew what they were talking about they lost their audience.
The next groups speaker wasn't an expert at all.
He spoke about the same topic as the first speaker but only had a basic understanding of the topic fundamentals.
He spoke with confidence and authority.
He used humour and personality at key points throughout his presentation.
The audience found him compelling and were engaged in what he had to say.
A paid course on the subject was offered at the end of his presentation and 73% of the audience took the offer.
Speaking with confidence doesn’t mean you're always right, or that you're better or smarter than everyone else.
It shows you believe in yourself and that you have something valuable to say.
That in itself is a pre requisite for success.
6. Keep it Simple and Direct
Don’t over complicate your message.
People think if they use fancy words and long drawn out explanations they'll come across as more intelligent.
But the opposite is true.
On of the skills of a master communicator is the ability to break down complex ideas into simple, understandable pieces.
Be selective with the words you use.
Robert Kiyosaki wrote that if a person can't explain a complex subject so that a five year old can understand it, then they don't understand it themselves.
Be direct and to the point and don't waffle.
Simplifying your communication structure will make you a much more effective communicator.
7. Be a Chameleon
Every person has their own communication style and their own frame of reference.
People have their own unique model of the world.
What's normal to you is completely foreign to someone else.
You need to be a chameleon (adaptable) to how other people see the world a communicate themselves.
How you communicate with your colleagues at work differs from how you communicate at a party.
Use social awareness and intelligence to choose the most suitable frame to be in.
Social awareness puts you miles ahead of your competition. Most people resemble cattle with blinders on.
They only see what's right in front of them with zero awareness of anything else going on around them.
The master communicator has honed observational skills and the ability to adapt to the environment.
They are exceptionally good at this.
Utilising this skill allows them to network and build rapport with a wide variety of people in different situations.
8. Show Empathy and understanding
The more empathy your can show the more connection people will feel towards you.
You might have heard someone say "I just feel like they understand me".
People like to feel acknowledged, heard and understood.
Seek to genuinely understand and appreciate where they're coming from, eve if their frame is different to yours.
When people feel you're making an effort to understand them they automatically become more open and responsive.
Everyone has an interesting story. Particularly people who have a different perspective that your own.
9. Never Be Fake
There's a golden rule in communication mastery.
That rule is to never be fake.
If you're pretending to be interested or empathetic it shows.
Once people decide you're a fraud you lose all credibility.
Come from a genuine place and remember you're speaking with a human being.
They have similar needs, emotions and concerns as yourself.
People have asked me many times "what's the trick?".
"How can I shortcut the communication process?". "There must be a shortcut or a trick".
When someone asks me for a trick my response is always the same:
The "trick" is don't be fake.
10. Think Before You Speak
How many times have you reacted to something and later regretted it?
Don't speak or respond from a frame of auto pilot.
Be conscious of your thoughts and the words you use.
Pause before you react. Think before you speak.
Your best responses will come from a calm and rational mind.
You can't take your words back once they've been spoken.
A brief pause to think before you respond could save you a lifetime of regret.
Now It's Up to You
Becoming a better communicator will make you more effective in every area of your life.
You'll be more influential and efficient at work and have a better life experience at home.
Opportunities will start opening up for you and more people will want to be around you.
Mastering communication takes commitment and a willingness to learn.
You need a genuine desire to be a better version of who you currently are.
Positions of leadership require people who can communicate well in a variety of different contexts.
Effective communication is both art and science.
The most successful people on the planet all have this trait in common.
Each in their own way they are exceptional communicators.
Now it's your turn...
Best Quotes About Communication Mastery
"You can change your world by changing your words... Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue" - Joel Osteen
"Words of comfort, skilfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man" - Louis Nizer
"Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language" - Walt Disney
"Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind" - F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know" - Jim Rohn