5 Approaches to Be a Noteworthy Communicator and Tips to Be More Present in Conversations
Communication is an important life skill that every individual must possess whether in a — personal or professional environment. Good communication can strengthen and enhance various mutual relationships in your life.
A survey conducted by HubSpot demonstrates that more companies are looking to convert leads into sales as their #1 challenge. For effective sales, it’s imperative that your communication skills be at their potential best. Companies no longer consider employing recruits with poor communication skills even if they’ve got a stellar achievement record.
In this article, we’ll learn various ideas on how to be more present in a conversation and how to effectively conduct a dialogue with your peers and senior-level managers.
WHY GOOD COMMUNICATION IS IMPORTANT FOR A GOOD CAREER
Imagine walking into an interview room, handing over your files, and being completely dumbfounded when you know exactly what to say but just can’t convert it into words.
While you may be the right fit for the company as far as experience is concerned, the skills still need to be put into words and you need to charm your interviewer with your confidence if you have any chance of landing the job.
Below are some of the top reasons to have great communication skills for your career.
The Ability to Deliver a Good Speech for Motivation
Let’s look at history and find out how important communication was.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a phenomenal orator, he believed in his dream and could convert his enthusiasm for his dream into powerful words that swayed the public.
If MLK Jr. didn’t possess great communication skills, it would be near impossible to make a positive global impact as he did. People wouldn’t know what his dream was about and without clear understanding, they wouldn’t have stood for what he believed in.
Similarly, as an entrepreneur, if you have any chance of leading your employees to success, you need to be able to communicate with them in an effective manner. Effective communication can mean all the difference between dissatisfied employees and passionate ones.
If there is someone in your company that is feeling unsupported, as a leader, it’s your job to boost their morale with words of confidence. It’s necessary to always mean what you say. True communication comes from the soul, if you truly stand for what you believe in, then your communication will resonate with the same grade of success.
To effectively strengthen your communication ability. Ask yourself these following questions and you’ll immediately be able to pinpoint your major communicative weaknesses.
- Am I speaking loud enough for the other person to hear me?
- If the other person can hear me, are they able to understand what I am trying to convey? (language barrier, bad tone, etc.)
- Do I communicate openly, or do I hold myself back? (from prejudices, judgments, and expectations)
- Am I listening to the other person completely before I offer my thoughts on the subject?
- If the outcome isn’t to my expectations, am I learning from my previous mistakes and improving my communication skills?
- Am I able to respect other people’s point of views before responding?
- Am I taking the responsibility of my message that I convey to others?
- Does my conversation hold any value to the topic in question?
- Is the listener not able to hold an interest in my conversation? (If so, where is the problem. Maybe the conversation went on for too long? Maybe it was irrelevant?)
Skilled Communicators Earn Better Income
Communication is a great tool to negotiate your income. During an interview, good communication helps you take control of the steering wheel of the conversation and allows you to negotiate a price that you’re comfortable with.
Along the way, you get to impress your interviewer enough to throw in a few extra employee benefits to your package and walk out of the interview feeling like a star.
Let’s give you an example to prove this point.
Jack and Tom are invited to Edelweiss to be recruited as investment brokers. While both are equally qualified, Jack has better communication skills than Tom. Here’s how their conversation goes —
Interviewer: Hi, Jack. Welcome to Edelweiss.
Jack: Thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be here.
Interviewer: Let’s get down to business, Jack. I’m impressed by your skills I’d like to know how much pay you’re expecting to take home.
Jack: I believe my past work speaks better than my own description of it. I’ve always enjoyed a pay hike of 30% from my previous employers and I’d like to stick to that number. As witnessed by my achievements, none of my employers ever had any regrets about paying me for my asking price due to my ability to bring them business in quick successions.
Interviewer: Jack, we’re willing to give you a shot. We’ve accepted your terms. Great to have you onboard.
Jack: Splendid! Looking forward to my job profiling on the joining date.
Interviewer: Welcome to Edelweiss, Tom. Please have a seat.
Interviewer: Your skillset looks great on paper and we believe you’ll make a fine employee at Edelweiss. Would you be willing to brief us on your expected pay and why exactly we should give you this amount?
Tom: Not exactly sure what to expect, to be honest. Care to give me a starting offer to make up my mind?
Interviewer: We’d like to offer you a pay package of 15% over your current pay without employee benefits.
Tom: I think that sounds about right. I’ll take the job.
Interviewer: We’ll have someone from the HR department reach out to you soon, Tom. Have a nice day.
Same positions, different pay packages!
All because Tom didn’t bother to negotiate nor converse with his interviewer. Let’s say the average pay for an investment broker a year is $40,000. A 30% hike for Jack means he gets a pay upgrade of $52000 from his previous job while Jack gets a measly $46000.
That’s a difference of $6000 a year for the same job roles and this difference in salaries was created with a few words exchanged. Add to this, the company managed to deny Tom of valuable employee benefits.
Another factor that helped Jack secure his pay upgrade was that he opened the negotiation package himself. Tom, however, allowed the interviewer to offer a starting amount. This ensures who took control of the steering wheel in the conversation.
In Tom’s case, the interviewer was the better communicator and saved the company (Edelweiss) a good amount of funds.
Is communication still relevant to your career? You be the judge.
Communication as a tool to participate in Social Networking
Every one of us has interacted with our friends or family over social media at one point or the other. Networking platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Gmail Messenger, etc. are making it easier for us to be in touch, personally and professionally. It’s no wonder that the modern age requires a good command of our communication skills to network better with others.
A survey was conducted with over 800 students involved to understand how social media affected communication and information. Most of the students were highly involved with social media and were dependent on information through these networking sites to help them make decisions in their lives.
This survey highlighted that social media itself was a form of interaction and communication. Instead of using face-to-face instances of meeting others, the new generation utilizes digitals screens to interact with one another.
Virtual relationships such as freelancers working for companies located in other countries, students being coached by online tutors, and even online dating tools are heavily relied upon by good communication skills.
Take digital advertising, for example, you have a great brand idea but if you’re unable to communicate the idea on social-media to your users, you’ll be quick to fail.
Social media communication is the need of the hour with a wide range of subscribers able to connect to you with just a touch of a button.
How well your business does depend on how well you can communicate your products and messages to your customers.
Here’s a beginner checklist to communicate effectively with your social-media users. Feel free to add your own rules to the checklist as you go.
- Build your own voice, don’t copy a rival brand
- Project your brand in a positive light
- Keep a short hashtag
- Don’t spam the same post to your users more than once a month
- Always spell check
- Utilize video content for even effective communication
- Try speaking to your users in a personalized video
- Utilize slides and images for colorful and bright interactive sessions
- Polls and feedback forms are great ways to gain information
Don’t forget communication isn’t just done by word-of-mouth. The new way of communication is how you project yourself or your brand to the world. By following the above rules, you create a head start for your brand/image by avoiding some of the biggest mistakes made by new entrepreneurs when starting out. Remember to keep it simple and only communicate what you truly believe in.
5 GREAT WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
1. Pay Attention to Your Words
Take a quick look at the below phrase and count the number of “F’s” in the given statement. We’d like you to complete the exercise in less than 5 seconds. Let’s begin —
“Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years.”
If you’ve gotten anything less than 6 F’s, then you’re wrong. This simple exercise proves how quickly our brain omits certain obvious factors without realizing it. Similarly, communication requires complete concentration to achieve and takes years to improve upon.
One of the simplest ways to improve communication is to listen to others before you speak. By really listening to the other person, you allow time for your brain to adapt to the conversation and thereby you’ll know exactly what you want to communicate to the other person.
Never multitask when conversing with someone over the phone. Your brain is distracted between two activities and this can cause a massive communication gap for the individual on the phone. Set aside time to converse with your colleagues and clients.
The same logic applies to email communication and talking on the phone simultaneously. You’ll mix up words that you type in the email and might also miscommunicate while conversing. It’s highly important to think before you speak.
Here’s an exercise to help you be aware of what you say —
Using a voice recorder, record yourself speaking as two individuals. One individual is an interviewer and the other is looking for a job. Give yourself ample time as this is a mock interview there’s no need to rush yourself. Some tips to assist with the conversation.
- Observe the words that come out of your mouth
- Count 1-to-5 before responding to the interviewer
- The tone of the conversation is extremely important
- Take time to formulate a response
- Response with the information you have in your mind
- Notice the different tones you use when shifting between interviewer and recruit
- Ensure your tone is polite and clear
- After responding, observe your words once again
- Gauge the reactions of both conversations
Once you’ve finished recording a 5-minute conversation. Play the recording all over again and use the above rules to check if you’ve been following them. If you find a lot of stutter and stammer, you haven’t been observing your words and have been responding before your brain has a chance to formulate a response.
Remember to never be in a hurry to form your response. This leads to stuttering and can make you seem like a poor communicator. This exercise takes at least a month before you can start seeing positive results.
Practice this exercise 3 times a week. Also compare your most recent conversation from the day you started the exercise to see how effective you’ve become at communicating.
2. Improve Body Language
Body language plays a major role in how you communicate. Everybody’s body signal is communicated directly from the brain whether you want to or not. Sometimes, when we aren’t aware our body tends to act on its own while conversing.
A simple example of this is — when you’re watching a football match with your friends and your team is on the losing side, you realize at the end of the game that you’ve bitten off your nails completely.
Gestures such as these are signals that the brain sends to the body to react during an emotional response to a current situation. In this example, your brain was tensed and hence, reacted in a tensed fashion.
Let’s break up body communicative gestures into positive and negative fields to give you a better idea.
Positive Body Signals
- A stiff upper body that is upright while sitting
- Shaking hands in a confident manner
- A pleasant smile on the face during a greeting
- Maintaining eye-to-eye contact with the person you’re conversing with
- Hands can either be folded or left loose when standing
- Maintain hands on the table surface just enough for the individual to see them
- Walk in an upright manner with a broad chest and a straight back
Negative Body Signals
- Uncharismatic smile or failing to smile during a greeting
- Looking around the room when someone is speaking to you
- Easily distracted during a conversation
- Biting your nails when nervous
- Maintaining a sitting position with your leg on top of the other
- Walking with a hunch and your head facing downward
- Chewing gum during a formal conversation
- Not able to maintain eye contact with the converser
- Fidgeting your shoulders from time to time
- A slumped sitting position
- Occasionally moving your hands towards the back of your head and making an itching motion
Even if you’ve got great vocal skills, it can translate negatively if you’ve managed to perform even one or two actions among the “Negative Body Signals” list. A good posture demonstrates a confident individual. A good way to improve your body signals is to take a chair and sit in front of a mirror. Here you can make changes to your postures by referring to the “Positive Body Signals” list.
When your body posture is in sync with effective vocal skills, you’re already on your way to becoming a great communicator and may even be complemented by your colleagues for being an outstanding communicator with great body skills.
We’ll learn more about body gestures in the next section —Nonverbal Communication.
3. Nonverbal Communication
Not all communication happens with audible sounds and body gestures. Nonverbal communication is a form of communication where there isn’t anything said, and it utilizes physical movements, colors, signs, symbols, signals, attitudes, and feelings to express what you truly want to say.
This type of communication is extremely prevalent in the modern world. Let’s break down nonverbal communications into their types to better understand this term.
1. Facial Expressions
A common form of nonverbal communication. When we smile at our friends without saying a word, we communicate to them that we’re extremely happy to see them.
When we raise both our eyebrows after reading the newspaper, we are surprised by the events unfolding. Similarly, when we watch a horror movie and are walking alone at night, our faces begin to show signs of discomfort to demonstrate fear.
In this form of communication, the face is an important point that indicates our moods and emotions to the other person. Thus, it’s important to always have a smiling face when greeting others or when receiving information from others.
A smile is one of the best ways to keep a conversation as positive as you can.
Have you ever seen a speech given out live by an exceptional orator? Notice how his voice reverberates and he can charm the masses with his majestic tone and swashbuckling choice of words.
This form of nonverbal communication deals with the following vocal elements —
For example — Imagine a teacher that isn’t loud or has a monotone when explaining a topic to the students.
The students will experience a state of boredom with no active modulation to the teacher’s voice and will begin to laze around. In this way, para-linguistic skills can be a powerful communicator when you’re able to master it.
Confused? Don’t be! Silence is just as useful for communication as a vocal sound. Being silent allows the other person to understand effectively what has just been said. Other times, when someone is silent, it often means he or she hasn’t understood the topic in question and this is one way of communicating ignorance.
A simple hug can communicate warmth and love from one another. By shaking hands with your peers, you show them respect. Touch is an important communicator and is extremely important to master for exceptional communication skills.
A great example of touch-based communication is when someone touches you from behind in a crowded street to request you to give them the way to pass.
5. Physical Appearance
The way you appear and dress are important features to effective communication. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt to an interview will immediately get your rejected. This is because you’ve communicated to the interviewer that the job isn’t worth your time and dressing up in formals wasn’t necessary.
Another example of physical appearance is when you’re in a hospital and see a person in a lab coat, you automatically assume the person to be a doctor. A dress is an important communicator and serves the purpose without any audible dialogue.
6. Visual Communication
When most of the communication is conversed using visual aids, it’s called visual communication. One of the best examples is the signboards on the road.
When you witness a yellow radiation symbol on a factory, you immediately come to know that the place ahead is filled with radioactive material and is unsafe for civilians to enter.
Now that you understand nonverbal communication. It’s time to put it to test.
Answer the following questions as “Nonverbal” or “Verbal” form of communication to validate your communicational knowledge. You can check for the answers below the quiz.
- Screaming loudly at the sight of a spider
- Being distracted in class when your teacher is explaining a topic
- Showing facial disgust when your mom asks you to clean the room
- Hugging your brother on his birthday
- Gossiping with your colleague during lunch time
- A news anchor broadcasting news
- A deaf man using sign language
- Telephonic conversation with a friend
- Crying tears of joy after witnessing a happy ending
- Laughing at a comedy show
Now let’s see how much you understand about nonverbal and verbal communication. Refer to the answers below.
The Cheat Sheet
- Nonverbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
- Verbal Communication
- Verbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
- Verbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
- Nonverbal Communication
4. The Art of Timing
Timing is an advanced form of communication but important nonetheless. You’ve undoubtedly heard of how comedians and motivational speakers get interrupted all the time by pranksters in the crowd that want to yell out a comment to distract them from their subject.
Sometimes, the comedian or speaker usually yells back with a witty comeback and the whole audience erupts in laughter and applause. This is an example of timing in conversation.
As a leader in your company, it’s extremely critical for you to develop adequate skills in timing your deliveries. You want to start with a problem, discuss the problem, and demonstrate how the problem can be a long-term issue between gaining profits for the company and a loss for the company.
Finally, at the end of the speech, you deliver a solution to the problem and your employees are impressed at how well you’ve managed to converse them into understanding the problem, seeing the problem, and witnessing a solution to the problem in a single speech.
Here are effective tips to maintain conversational timing —
1. Maintain a timeframe
When you know exactly how much time you’ve got to present a speech, it’ll make it easier for you to communicate with your audience. A timeframe allows you to discuss the topic in length while coming down to the solution at the right time, so your audience is mesmerized.
Without a timeframe, you quickly lose track of what you wished to discuss and might jumble up the scripts that you’d spent hours rehearsing.
2. Meet the audience’s expectations
To maintain the art of timing, it’s important to understand to write conversational scripts based on what the audience needs from you. For example — If you’re presenting a series of image slides to your senior managers. It’s important to explain clearly and in an informative manner as to why each slide makes the cut to the big screen.
Don’t waste people’s time with unnecessary information that isn’t relevant to the topic of the debate. The art of timing is all about valuing people’s time and presenting your conversation in a step-by-step approach.
3. Cut to the Big Finale
If you’ve got a splendid topic to discuss at length, don’t bore your audience repeating the same statement all over again in different lengths and variations.
Move on to the climax portion of the conversation and unveil the grand finish. This way when the curtains go down, you’ll be at the positive end of an applause.
5. Stories are Powerful Scripts
As kids, when our parents used to read us a fairytale, we were completely engrossed by the stories. Ever wondered why?
It’s because people love stories —it’s that simple! A story allows us to forget reality and immerse ourselves completely in it. Information, when told in a straightforward manner, is completely boring for someone to process and hence, it doesn’t really register to us on an emotional level.
However, if the same information is recreated and told as a story with lots of entertaining bits, we suddenly stop and listen until the climax unveils.
So, do you need to be a novelist or an author to weave perfect stories every time?
Not at all, a story doesn’t necessarily contain dragons and princesses and all the magical voodoo behind it.
A story is simply a constructed version of events told in an entertaining fashion to the listener.
Let’s understand this with an example.
Jake is an employee at a reputed company and has turned up late to work. He’s now been summoned to the boss’s chambers to explain his reason for the lack of punctuality.
Here’s Jake’s boring and straightforward version for being late —
Jake: I apologize, sir. I’ve been stuck in traffic for the past hour and couldn’t make it in time. It won’t happen again.
Boss: I don’t believe your stories, Jake. It’s the third time you’ve been late this week. Another time, and you’ll find yourself looking for a job.
Jake: I understand. It won’t happen again, sir.
Here’s Jake coming up with a story for his delay —
Jake: Sir, the most fascinating thing happened to me today. I got out from the bed and realized that my window had blue fingerprints. Not one to believe in fairytales I begin to investigate the issue when I found a mysterious trail of fingerprints leading up to my son’s room.
Jake: After following the trail, I found out that my 3-year old son had been playing with watercolors and had landed in my room last night. He tried to push the windows to reach out to the birds on the other side and had made the entire house a mess in the process.
Boss: That’s adorable, Jake
Jake: By the time, I cleaned up the mess and drove beyond the traffic, I’ve managed to miss 15 minutes of work. I truly apologize for my situation, but the real culprit is my son. If pronounced, I’ll bring the guilty rascal to the office tomorrow for his punishment.
Boss: Ha-ha, that won’t be necessary Jake. Hope to see you on time from now on.
Jake used humor as a weapon to diffuse the situation with his boss in the 2nd scenario.
While in the first scenario, his boss expected him to come up with a silly excuse and Jake did exactly that with no effort to cover up for his mistake.
Communication is key in turning an ugly scenario into a completely amusing one. Humor is a great addon to a story to entertain the listener.
Great communicators understand that if they don’t read patterns in communications, a long-term misunderstanding can be created. Hence, the right alignment of words, the tone of voice, and body language all play a vital role in effective communication.
One of the most overlooked factors is not paying attention to nonverbal communication. Don’t do that!
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