“Communication Opens Doors!” This was the slogan of the Riverbend Toastmasters club when I joined them in 2006. I believe that in this fast paced world that is changing so quickly proper communication plays a vital role in our success both at home and at work.
The fact is that we are in constant communication with people around us whether we are aware of it or not. When you talk to your partner about where to go on vacation together you are communicating. When you argue with your kids on how they should or should not behave you are communicating. When you fight with your parents to convince them that you are grown up and can stand on your own feet and decide for own life you are communicating. When you chat with your friends about your experience on your recent trip you are communicating. When you speak to customers at your work place in order to sell something to them you are communicating. When you prepare a speech and deliver that in front of an audience in your community you are communicating. When you present some slides to your colleagues to inform them about your new findings you are communicating. When you stand in front of your boss with your arms crossed and no smile on your face you are communicating. When you call the customer service of your internet provider and complain about how slow your internet connection is you are communicating. These are just few examples of our day-to-day communication with people around us.
A big problem with our daily communication with others, however, is that we do not know how to communicate effectively. Many times we shut down our relationship with our family members, our friends, our colleagues, etc. because of improper or ineffective communication. We close doors of opportunities by reactive response to our lack of effective communication with others. As a result we feel disconnected, ignored, angry, stressed, unheard, and/or unhappy and we don’t know exactly why.
Effective communication is not about how well you speak English or how well you pronounce the words. Effective communication is much more than being able to speak. It goes beyond the words that we use.
When we communicate with others we exchange signals with them. The signals that we exchange are either visible or invisible. The visible signals are broadcast through tone of voice and body language including facial expression, gesture, body posture, and eye movements. The invisible signals cannot be seen, but they can be felt. Through the invisible signals, we differentiate fake behaviors from authentic ones. We recognize the difference between love and hate, joy and sorrow, passion and indifference, connection and separation, and high energy and low energy.
It is therefore important to enhance our communication skills so we can open the doors of opportunities, build happy relationships, and achieve success. Following are six super tips for improving your communication skills:
Have an effective eye contact
According to the ancient proverb, the eyes are windows to the soul. When you are sad, no matter how much you try to hide it from others, you cannot because your eyes reveal your sadness. When you are stressed, no matter how much you try to cover it up, your eyes reflect your stress. When you love someone your eyes transmits your love and connect your heart with the heart of your loved one. So in order to communicate and connect with others better, have an effective eye contact with them. Maintain your eye contact so you can maintain the connection.
Be aware of your body language
Body language is a nonverbal language. It includes facial expressions, gestures, body positions, and eye movements. Believe it or not, 55 percent of your message to others is affected by your body language, which is the visual part of the message.
When you communicate effectively, your face looks happy and bright, your hands move naturally, your head is aligned with the rest of your body showing comfort and confidence, your eyes move smoothly and gracefully, and your gestures radiate vitality.
In contrast, when you communicate poorly, your face looks unhappy, your hands go into defense mode and move unnaturally, your head is out of alignment, your eyes move either slowly or fast and cannot connect with others effectively, and your gestures tell others that you are not comfortable and have no interest.
By improving your body language you can dramatically improve the level of your communication and therefore create a more positive impact in your relationship with others.
Use your voice properly
If body language has the first place with a 55 percent contribution to affecting your message, your voice is second at 38 percent. You can engage people with your voice when you passionately and energetically talk about what you want to do or get done. Your voice projects your energy level and confidence whether or not you know about the importance of voice in your daily communication.
I am sure you have noticed this when you talk to someone over the phone. If the person on the other end is energetic, his or her voice is stronger, clearer, and more energetic with vocal variety. If the same person has had a bad day and his or her energy is drained, his or her voice is low, monotonous, and uninteresting.
Many people believe that successful communicators talk more and that in order to influence others, you need to be able to talk well. In other words, if someone is quiet or introverted, he or she cannot be an effective communicator. This is a myth.
The truth is that effective communicators listen more than they talk. They listen attentively and actively to people’s concerns, ideas, and stories. Effective communicators know that active listening will help them understand other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. By listening to other people attentively and emphatically, you will create a bond between you, which promotes the relationship. If you don’t listen to others, they may not listen to what you have to say.
Go beyond communication
I have seen many people who have good presentation skills and apparently great communication skills, but when it comes to engaging people in discussions and motivating them to act toward a common goal, they fail. Why? Because they don’t talk from their heart, which means they lack the required energy to make others connect and respond.
Without connection communications may not be successful. For communication to be effective, you need to connect with people at their deepest level. Make connections by taking agendas and egos out of the way and being present. Your positive attitude in communication with people around you opens up heart-to-heart conversation and makes them listen to you and follow what you say.
A very powerful way that connects you instantly with others is to smile. Always do your best to have an authentic smile on your face and share it with people during communication. It costs nothing, but it brings lots of smiles, love, and value back to you.
One great organization through which you can enhance your communication and leadership skills is Toastmasters International. This nonprofit organization has helped millions become better communicators and leaders in a supportive and friendly environment through a well-developed process with very little investment. Toastmasters has helped me a lot in enhancing my communication and leadership skills, and I am sure it can help you too no matter where you are on your journey in life. To find out a club near you check out www.Toastmasters.org.
It is never too early or too late to advance your communication skills. Effective communication truly opens many doors to success.
Kamran Akbarzadeh, PhD
Founder of International Academy of Leadership & Management, Dream Achievers Academy, and Passive Income Channel
Author of best-selling and international award winning book, Leadership Soup
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