At work, you might be looking to better communicate with coworkers, supervisors, or janitors in the hopes of moving up another rung on the corporate ladder. Outside of the office, you might be more interested in trying to salvage a relationship with a partner who relentlessly reminds you that your listening skills blow. Either way, the point is obvious — becoming an effective communicator is invaluable to achieving success.
A bonus: learning to listen and communicate better can also bolster confidence. (When’s the last time you saw an expert on a topic look like he/she is about to vomit when someone asks them a question in their wheelhouse? Exactly — never.) These five tips can help get you started, but you have to be honest with yourself as to where you’re communication is falling flat.
#1. Be Direct (Without Being A Pompous Prick)
Dancing around a topic or avoiding confrontation will muddle your message. While you’re objective — we hope — isn’t to insult someone or put them down, you also can’t sugarcoat your message to where it’s not really your message. If you have something to say, say it. If it’s going to make someone upset or angry, try to say it in a gentle way that doesn’t distort your point.
#2. Become an Active Listener
Adopt “active listening.” Allow the person to finish speaking before you respond. Interrupting can make someone feel less important, and it’s impossible to listen when you’re coming up with a retort and the point hasn’t been made. Using your brain power to hold onto what your saying also effectively blocks on what’s being said.
#3. Time it Up
When a person is stressed out, full of angst, or an emotional wreck, it’s probably best to postpone your discussion. It sounds like obvious advice, but we’re often so damn busy trying to plow through everything we need to accomplish that their well-being gets shelved.