Do you sometimes feel that people don’t listening to you?
Do you wish you could chat away to everyone with practiced ease?
Is small talk your idea of a slow, painful death?
There are those that are born naturals when it comes to communicating effectively and seem to be able to flap on to anyone and everyone with ease. There are then however, the majority that need a little help. They find it hard to get people to listen, are often misunderstood and spend an inordinate amount of time wishing they could flap with the practiced ease of their best friend or envied work colleague.
The good news is that many of the difficulties people face when it comes to communicating can be overcome.
By focusing on the ways you need to communicate and consciously working to improve smaller, more manageable areas of skill, you could quickly find yourself streets ahead of the pack on the road to success in life.
Ways to improve communication skills is a huge topic that’s impossible to cover in one article because there are so many elements that make an impact, but our CANDo kick-offs for communication success below will give you a hefty shove in the right direction:
1. Know Thy Self!
First off, take a good look at yourself. Ask your Inner Imp Honesty for an honest opinion about what your strengths and weakness are as a communicator. It’s probably better if you give Diplomacy the night off when you do this so you can get a really good, critical idea of what state your skills are currently in.
- Does your honest approach lack diplomatic finesse?
- Does Courage fail you when it comes to meeting new people?
- Is auto-pilot on all the time or do you actually think about how you speak to people?
- Do people switch off and not bother to listen to what you’re saying?
- Do you listen attentively and show an interest in what other people say?
- Are you a pleasant person to talk to?
Once you’ve had a good honest chat with Honesty, you’ll almost definitely find there are a few areas you need to be having a jolly good look at.
When doing this exercise, one good control tactic for how honest Honesty has been with you, is to talk to your nearest and dearest or an objective friend about what you come up with. Give Self-Defence a sleeping pill so he keeps his nose out of things and enlist Courage to be your wing man. Thus armed, ask your chosen one to be really honest with you because you’re looking to up-the-anti as far as your communications skills are concerned. WARNING: Be prepared to accept their criticism because there really ought to be some – we ALL have areas for self-improvement.
A friend of mine prides herself on the fact that she speaks her mind. She can often be heard saying things like, “You know me, I say it how it is.” or “You’ll only ever hear the truth from me.” This is a great attitude however, what she failed to learn when she was learning to be honest was to filter her remarks through her Inner Imp Diplomacy. By not allowing Diplomacy to temper her comments, she often comes across as ignorant, out to shock or upset and more than a tad bitchy. Honesty needs to work with Diplomacy to keep the waters mill-pond like because on of our aims in communicating should be to achieve positive results, even if you’re criticising or reprimanding someone.
Armed with the results of examining your own skills honestly, you can later begin trouble-shooting the whys and finding answers to the how-to’s for improvement but first;
2. What are your Communication Needs?
Take another moment – I know! Lots of moments here, but it will be worth it, we promise.
Consider how you communication with people throughout the day.
Everyone has different needs.
In an office, you’ll need to write well, have meetings, give presentations, use technology for emails, reports, etc., use the telephone formally, debate with colleagues, blah, blah, blah…
In a workshop or factory, you’ll need to speak more clearly if it’s loud or not at all if it’s not allowed (‘xcuse the pun), give and/or understand instructions clearly in a structured way, etc.
At home, you’ll need to negotiate with your partner and/or children, answer the telephone less formally, listen, debate, explain, beg, cajole… yeah, you know what I’m saying!
As a Politician, you’ll need to lie, be evasive, be creative – only joking… NOT!
The point is, we each have different communication needs depending on our circumstances, jobs, relationships, etc.
Make a list of the main ways you communicate each day and what your goals usually are.
What tools do you use; telephone, email, letters, pen, computer, etc.?
If you write, is your handwriting legible, do you have good grammar? Do you use tools effectively, e.g. post-its, memo boards, emails, the telephone or pen and paper, etc.? (A rolling pin over the top of the head does not count as a communications tool by the way!!)
By making a note of these things, you will come up with a checklist of ways you communicate. Go through this checklist and mull-over whether your skills are up to speed for each of them.
Do they meet your needs and achieve your aims successfully?
More importantly, would others agree?
3. General Communication Skills
In addition to our personal communication needs, there are a few skills we all should have. Check that you’re firing on all cylinders as far as these are concerned too:
- Knowing How to Listen
- Making Small Talk
- Being Conscious of Body Language
- Knowing What Empathy is and Showing it.
- Having Healthy Self-Confidence
- Showing Respect and Courtesy
The process above should have highlighted any areas that may have you firing communication blanks. The next step is to start pampering yourself in each of these areas with a step by step self-improvement programme that will put a little sparkle into how you communicate. This could mean reading up on ideas from the CANDo site or the internet in general, getting self-improvement books from the library or simply being more conscious of the way you’re talking and communicating for a while.
If you’ve found this helpful, why not use a little effective communication and spread the word by liking us on Facebook or Twittering about CANDo Life Skills. You may find it useful to sign-up for a regular dose of CANDo Get-Up and Go-Go too.