“Communication works for those who work at it”.
Do you remember ever being stuck in a conversation that’s become one-sided, trying to give your captor clues that you’ve lost interest and are ready to move on; wondering if you might need to fake some sort of emergency just to escape? Chances are; we’ve all been in that situation at one time or another. You don’t want to be rude, but how can this person NOT see that you’re no longer listening?
Communication is becoming a lost art yet it is a vital part of our daily lives – both business and personal. It’s important to nurture our communication skills so that the information we are sharing is truly heard. Talking to customers, business associates, potential clients and family and friends is becoming more difficult in this age of Facebook, Twitter, texts and hashtags. We need to practice our communication skills regularly in order to be able to utilize them successfully and to avoid being on either end of the unwilling captive conversation described earlier.
It’s not easy to express- or understand – the full intent and content of a person’s message with typed words and emoji’s alone. That’s why making the most out of face to face meetings and networking opportunities is so important in today’s business world.
Several studies conducted over the last five decades validate that communication is made up of 3 components: verbal (the actual words spoken), tone of voice and body language. Surprisingly, the actual words spoken only make up a small fraction of the overall message being communicated. Body language and tone of voice consistently prove to be just as important, and at times, more so,as the words spoken.
Here are some clues and tips to get the most out of your “face” time:
- Silence your phone and put it away. Continually checking your phone during a conversation is not only rude, it sends the message that you’re not fully engaged.
- Look a person in their eyes and use their name throughout the conversation. (Don’t take this to an extreme level and stare; you don’t want to creep the person out!)
- Pay attention to what your hands/ arms are doing. Crossing your arms is a sure fire way to say you’re closed off from or not trulyinterested in the conversation. Fidgeting can give the impression that you’ve got other things on your mind or would rather be elsewhere.
- Pay attention to your tone of voice – you might be saying the right words but your tone can infer your lack of conviction in what you’re trying to communicate.
- Mirror the other person’s body language to convey understanding.
- Engage the person you’re speaking to by asking them questions.
- LISTEN – Pay attention to what the other person is saying and truly hear their words while also “listening” to their body language. Take note to wrap things up or change your topic if the other person shows any signs of boredom or negativity. Giving your addressees time to ask questions and comment can often lead to a more meaningful conversation and can help to validate that the message you’re attempting to convey is actually what’s being heard.
Face to face communication is not always easy to fit into our busy schedules but the potential for creating meaningful and lasting relationships with co-workers, potential clients and family & friends is well worth the investment – and that’s something to Tweet about!