Communication is important whether is be professional communication, as in you are a professional speaker, trainer or presenter, or personal communication and you simply want to communicate with your partner in positive and respectful ways that better allow you to find solutions and resolve conflict. There are eight abilities that once honed, will positively impact you ability to communicate in all areas of your life.
1. Your ability to Care
So many people begin with their own agenda, something to say or teach or demand, so they begin communication without considering the listening of the person on the other end. By that I mean, how is the other person feeling? How are they emotionally, happy, sad, tense, frustrated, all of those emotional contexts matter. We can’t simply broadcast our message, and assume people are ready to hear it. People do not care about what you are saying, until they believe you care about who you are saying it to. If you want to succeed at communicating effectively and respectfully, let your listeners feel your empathy and know you value their thoughts, ideas, and opinions as well.
2. Your ability to Connect
We begin to listen, really listen, when we connect intellectually and emotionally. There are too many internal voices and too much outside stimulus that can drown out the subject we are attempting to communicate about. Know your audience and start by conveying an emotional anecdote that shows your common perspective. People used to say that, when President Bill Clinton would talk with you, he had a gift of making you feel like you are the only person in the world. How many people make you feel that way when you speak with them? I think you would agree, not many.
3. Your ability to Participate & Reciprocate
Amazing communicators know how to give and take in a reciprocal manner. Not only do they initiate conversation, they help drive the direction and are inclusive of others. They often actively listen by mirroring or repeating others' comments, concerns and feelings in a manner that shows understanding and interest. Not one enjoys being talked 'at'. When you can reciprocate and participate in a conversation, what you say has more value to your listener.
4. Your ability to Disarm Conflict
Conflict is an inevitable part of communication. The people who are best at communicating are able to lower the defenses of those with whom they communicate by understanding how to disarm them. Some are masters at using humor to disarm, some use empathy and compassion. It's not that they are manipulative; rather they are comfortable, humble and authentic. They show genuine interest in the other person and use humor and authenticity to make themselves nonthreatening.
5. Your ability to Focus on what's being said
When you communicate do you feel organized and focused? There are certain personality color tendencies that are better at organizing and focusing their communication. If presenting, they carefully structure the ideas and stories to hold audience interest and make their points. They also work for consistency. While there are people with different personality color blends that seem to take the long road in communicating what they are trying to communicate. If you have a tendency to go down rabbit holes, and off ramps as you are communicating, plan your conversations and presentations, thinking through what comes out of your mouth and in what order. If you struggle with that find a friend with strong purple color personality tendencies and have them help you organize your presentation. They will love it and you will be amazed at how easily they turn your ramblings into a straight line of focused points that are sure to make sense to your audience of many, or one.
6. Your ability to Clarify your thoughts
Don't assume just because you understand what you're saying that your audience, or your partner does. If you overwhelm your listeners, they will zone out from confusion or boredom. If you confuse and overwhelm your partner, it will make your conversations frustrating, rather than effective. Amazing communicators find ways to simplify complex concepts. They tell stories that are funny or interesting in order to help them better make a point. President Reagan was best known for being simple and clear. He used his humor to keep people's attention. Check in during the conversation to make sure everyone is still on board. Also it is important to understand what level of communication your partner is on when you are attempting to communicate with them. (See 6 Levels of Communication article for more details.)
7. Your ability to punctuate your important points with stories
Everybody loves a great story. Amazing communicators understand people only retain ten percent of what they hear, and they are artful at reinforcing key points through story telling, context and repetition. Make an effort to be dynamic and thoughtful in your delivery so listeners get depth and emphasis rather than features or facts.
8. Your ability to Persist until you succeed
Most amazing communicators didn't start that way. They learned from experts, practiced with coaches and studied technique. By committing time to improving, you are showing your friends and colleagues that you respect their time and attention. Practice will help you in your life. Are a few naturals? Sure, but most of the professional speakers and leaders hon their craft and practice many hours. Their business and careers depend on it. And, truthfully, so does yours. But strengthening these communication abilities doesn't just enhance you professionally, it makes you a much more interesting, fun and successful communicator personally as well.
Dawn is also the author and architect of the Primary Colors Relationship Personality Tests and Insight Tools, and inventor of the parenting toddler tool called CAPABLES. Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com and author of the comprehensive ONLINE relationship programs, Relationship Help At Home. Dawn is the Executive Director of the RelationshipHelpResort.com in Arizona and hosts couples luxury therapy retreats to help heal and strengthen broken relationships.