Communication is such a broad topic and it happens every single minute of the day, it’s everywhere! You can apply these tips to any aspect of communication and make it specific.
To learn how to better communicate, you must be aware of the way we, as people, communicate with one another.
There are four key types of ways to communicate:
- Verbal communication: any communication that happens by speak between people.
- Non-verbal communication: how do you portray yourself in certain situation.
- Written communications: all forms of written text, either formal or informal.
- Visual communication: this can be presentations, designs, illustrations, resumes, etc.
You can improve any type of communication by following these golden 10 rules:
Whoever that you try to communicate with and in whichever way; you must connect with them on some level in order to get the message across. Every single time that you communicate, think for a minute who do you have in front of you. This can be face-to-face discussion, but also a resume for an HR director. Consider who it is and find ways to connect with them with your words.
2. Remain open and honest
The best method is always to be real. You’re dealing with people and emotions. You do not need to share information in a different way in order to better communicate. Instead, it will make it worse. Stay true to yourself, connect with the other person, and find a middle way of communicating your ideas, thoughts, and opinion.
3. Make it personal
Connecting with people is so crucial and you can do this by sharing passion or a story. Make it personal so people know whom you are. This works when having a simple conversation and you’re trying to express your feelings, or even if you’re in a serious business meeting with professionals. Of course, you have to find the right level of personal and not go into too much irrelevant details either.
4. Adapt your message
Tailor your message to every audience you’re speaking with. Climb into their mind-set and imagine what they would want to hear. Adapt it so that it makes sense to them and that they can relate to what you’re saying. If you’re speaking to an audience that loves cats, don’t start talking about dogs. Now this is of course a weird example, but it is exactly how it works. Knowing your audience is what will help with this.
Nobody will listen, understand and act on things if you tell them only one time. Ok, maybe some will, but the majority of times: repeat! Now don’t just repeat it in the exact same way and expect them to respond differently but find new ways to convey your same message. An example is in a presentation: both written key words on the presentation slide, a diagram or image on the next slide, and additionally you explaining it in your own words.
The biggest part of communication is listening. Recognize what the people around you are saying; validate their thoughts and feelings. One of the most common challenges and frustrations is when people do not listen. Be the person that does listens to the one in front of you and that does respond to what has been said. One way is to repeat back, in your own words, what the person has just mentioned and following up by asking a related question.
7. Watch your body language
Whenever interacting with people, take a look at both your and others’ body language. Where do the eyes lead, hands/arms, posture etc. You might have heard already that 80% of how we communicate is not by spoken words, but actually by our body language. Your entire body is showing to the other person how you feel. You might act confident, or insecure, or upset, or sad. Make sure that it reflects how you truly feel so that you stay true to yourself and so that the other person can see visually as well.
8. Practice makes perfect
Trying to get a message across to an audience and they just don’t get it? Practice, listen, adapt and repeat. You need to find the right way for yourself that makes sense for your audience and the best way to reach that is by simply communicating more. If you want to improve your email writing skills; write more emails. If you want to become better in presentations; practice. If you want to communicate more clear your feelings during tough conversations; practice.
9. Be open for feedback and adapt accordingly
Communication is never a one-way street and you should create a dialogue with the two. You have to be open and allow the person(s) on the other side to speak with you as well. Unless it is a speech, you will have people respond and sometimes not in the way you would like. Remain positive and open by listening to the other person and adapt your message if you feel that makes sense.
10. Speak up loud and clear
You need to be crystal clear with your purpose and ensure your context is embracing that exact purpose. If you want to be heard, you must speak up. This can of course be in any of the communications way we mentioned. At the end of the day though, if you have a message to be shared, you must share it so that people can actually hear it.
Everyone has their own communication style and will be more or less aware of their skills. The main goal of communication is to bring your ideas across to someone else. It’s also a way to know if you’re a good communicator or not. If people often have difficulties of understanding what you mean, than you might want to review these points to improve every little day a little bit. It will come with practice as mentioned.
Lynn Bruines, AEHL and hospitality consultant running an agency for technology companies in the luxury hotel industry.
This article first appeared at the blog of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL). For more information, please visit the blog. Reprinted with permission.