Throughout our lives, be it personal or work related, we’ve bound to come across some people whom we find charismatic. And most, if not all of them, possess the ability to communicate effectively. So, what sets them apart from the rest of us?
Before even opening their mouths to speak, these people carry an air of confidence around them. They have warm smiles and make people feel comfortable around their presence. A simple “How is your day going?” might do. And when people feel comfortable, they’re more likely to open up and are more receptive to your agenda.
We are born with the five senses, and we often don’t put to good use equally for all senses. When we interact with someone, unconsciously, the small things count. Those include the tone of our voice, the speed and appropriate pauses, all make a subtle difference. We should speak in a clear tone of voice, audible to carry the message across. We should get used to pauses of short periods of silences, because these short silences mean the other party might be contemplating what you’re saying, or he’s organizing his thoughts. Either way, be in no hurry to fill up those quiet moments or you’ll be breaking their chain of thought. Our body posture is also important. Walk with a straight back, sit uprights, do not cross your arms when speaking to another person as you might come across as defensive.
Show your interest in what the other party is saying, by leaning slightly forwards, nodding at appropriate intervals, have good eye contact (try not to stare incessantly though) , do not keep looking at your watch, and give the person your full attention.
Listen. A lot of times, we get preoccupied with getting our agenda across, without keeping in mind what the other party has to say. If we do not listen enough, we cannot address their concerns and expectations. And if this happens, they will certainly not be interested with what we have to say.
Active listening means using a conscious effort to understand what the other party is putting across. Sometimes, when people ventilate to us, we often jump to giving suggestions or conclusions to them. What they need, actually, is for someone to hear out what they say. If they needed suggestions, they would have outrightly asked for your help.
Paraphrasing can be done by putting into words what have you understood from the conversation, get it across to the other person in similar statements. If you paraphrase well, it also shows you’ve done active listening.
When we’re given a big chunk of information, sometimes we find it hard to process and we might miss out on some parts. So, its good to summarize nearing the end of a conversation, to avoid missing out on those important parts. It also shows we are good at absorbing information efficiently.
More often than not, we tend to point fingers at others when things don’t go the way as planned. We use statements like "It’s all your fault that things turn out like this!” This can make the other party jumpy and defensive and try to justify their actions. And soon, a quarrel can often ensue. By using the “I” statement, we are reaffirming how we feel and think, and get it across to the other party, without heaping all the blame unto them. For example “I feel really disappointed that the articles were not sent out in time. I’m really upset this has happened and it has cause much inconvenience. I wouldn’t want this to happen again.”
Compassion builds trust and bridge the gap across people. By setting aside our differences, and getting to hear what the other person has to say, makes a huge leap towards creating mutual connection.
I’m sure there are many more tips and techniques for what works for each of you. Do share those with us!