4 effective ways to improve your communication

John Maxwell asks, “In the end, what good is our communication if its impact ends the moment we stop speaking?”

I’d like to think that a vibrant conversation lingers after you’ve left. Especially rewarding is when you find that others have lingered on the thoughts  and emotions provoked, leading to subsequent action.

Whilst reading Maxwell Connect: 7 Things You Can Do to Become More Interesting, I started thinking how some of these points seemed redundant & so I extracted those I found to most resonated with me. In doing so, I considered how I love to straddle both worlds of personal & professional encounters. I find it easier to get better at things when I can practice them with my friends, as well as my colleagues in the workplace.

After-all, there’s an old saying which states practice makes perfect.

Here are my thoughts on the subject..

1. Take Responsibility for Your Listeners & Communicate In Their World; if your audience doesn’t get it, don’t assume they’re on the wrong side of the fence. Ask yourself, better yet, ask them “how can I better communicate with you“.

Never assume anything is common sense. I have found it more effective to follow the definition of common sense as “equating to the knowledge and experience which most people already have.” Note the emphasis on the words knowledge, experience & already have. Too often we overlook this subtlety and 9 out of 10 times it results in disaster.

2. Capture People’s Attention from the Start; tune into the ongoing conversations & don’t hijack them. If you have nothing meaningful to contribute, just smile & listen.

Be conscious of the we / I ratio, it should be 4-to-1 on average through out the conversation. An effective engagement is when your audience walks away thinking the majority of the conversation was about them.

It’s always better to speak from experience when possible, even if it’s known 3rd party, than to simply state opinions.

3. Activate Your Audience; Smile with your eyes, engage through your energy and passion. Ask questions which bring out the same from your audience. Be authentic in your interest or don’t bother asking at all.

Look them in the eyes & don’t be distracted by background movement. If you find yourself wandering off don’t be afraid to correct yourself and move your physical position if necessary. They’ll actually thank you for the gesture.

When giving a lot of examples bring the conversation back to center with a catch-phrase such as “and the reason I shared that with you was..“.

Make it a dialogue, not a monologue. If you catch yourself speaking for more than 50% of the time, ask for examples of where they’ve had similar or different experiences & thoughts. Common ground can also be found, even in a disagreement. Be respectful and just forget about trying to win the argument or disagreement.

Respect that everyone has the right to be correct in their own mind.

4. Explore all the Senses through Story Telling; Literally share your experience through your dialogue and bring them into your world. Be as graphical as you possibly can. If it hurt than show the pain on your face. If it lifted you, then lift your chest and throw your shoulders back.

Breath through your nose throughout the conversation and let your feelings shine through.

Do these sound like things you could immediately apply in both your personal & professional engagements with others? And if you’re already good at these, how can you take it up another notch?

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