24 Aug 11 Tips to Regain Lost Communication Skills and Connect Effectively
Communication has taken a major hit – here’s how you can regain those lost skills and acquire new ones.
Communication coaching is in great demand – no wonder. A cluster of issues has contributed to derailing effective communication: video calls, WFH distractions, masks, lethargy, social media trash-talk, exhaustion, boredom… Communicating is rampant with misunderstandings, misperceptions, wounded egos, unnecessary conflict, and avoidable tension. Let’s course-correct and get really connected.
Not everyone needs formal communication training. I am all for ‘heal thyself’ methodologies – so here are my top 11 tips to get your communication back on track.
Top 11 Tips to Communicate Effectively
1. Acknowledge the deficit – admit to yourself that your communication tactics need a brush-up.
2. Masks are not going away – accept that masks mutate our communication. Be more intentional: project your words with feeling, enunciate clearly and slow the flow…
3. Set your own ground rules for communicating from now until eternity… “I will be honest, clear, empathetic, positive, constructive and a phenomenal listener. I will make eye contact, be assertive as necessary, project and annunciate like a thespian, and build relationships every day.”
4. Communication is as much about talking as it is about intentionally listening. Admit it – you’re already thinking what you are going to say instead of purposefully listening to what’s being said. Purposeful listening means being engaged, not just hearing. You’ll hear and interpret subtle voice intonations that tell us how someone is feeling. You will also make the person talking feel understood and enrich that relationship.
5. Eliminate annoying habits we develop that reject any chance of communication being effective. Like checking your phone. Nothing dismisses people like constant phone checking. We can invest 10-minutes in a screen-free discussion – try it.
6. When you communicate, show you’re interested in what the other person has to say, even if their conversation is less than scintillating.
7. Use your body language to connect – it’s a huge giveaway. Your nonverbal cues can richly enhance your communication or shut down any possibility of communicating successfully.
8. Make sure your body language aligns with the words coming out of your mouth – any disconnect will negatively impact your credibility.
9. Make and keep eye contact, especially on Zoom.
10. Keep your body language open: arms uncrossed, small hand gestures.
11. Actively listen – show you are engaged by leaning forward, tilt your head.
If you disagree with the person talking, undisciplined body language (like avoiding eye contact, looking at another screen, looking down) will put them on the defensive. The outcome of this is significant: you’re putting up a barrier between you and making sure effective communication will not take place – and that’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Instead, stay focused on what you need to achieve and look for ways to move the conversation forward, toward that shared goal. Disagreement is not always a bad thing; it can result in a stronger solution – if you manage it constructively.
Watch your emotional intensity – short fuses are for petulant toddlers, so let’s keep them there. If you recognize your stress levels rising, mentally de-escalate. Take a deep breath, practice mindfulness, pop a mint in your mouth. Self-soothe, gain control without giving anything away physically. Love thyself. Love thy neighbor. Compromise occasionally.
Removing Barriers to Connection Helps You Move Forward
When most people are tired and rudeness is on the rise, it’s easy to respond by retreating into self-protection. Making an effort to create connection is never a waste of time. Often, clear and open communication is the most direct route to reaching your goals and even recruiting, if not champions, people who will go along for the ride.
Public Relations specialist Bridget Paverd is a founding partner of GillespieHall. The firm is retained by global organizations to manage their reputation and enhance their relevance. A recognized crisis communications strategist, Paverd has led GillespieHall to become the most awarded and influential strategic communications and PR firm in the region. Paverd teaches crisis media management at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Photo courtesy Delaware Business Times