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In the professional world, communication is key within all areas, including project management as mentioned by colleges similar to University of Southern California. The benefit of having the ability to talk to people spills over into presentations, helps with day-to-day conversations, improves relationships, and aids in negotiations. Like most skills, interpersonal communication requires practice.
We at Dharma Home Suites have generated this brief list of some interpersonal communication tips you can start applying into your daily life to become a better communicator. Better communicators can better express themselves to others, and with continued use, help you feel more comfortable in any new setting.
Start With Yourself
What kind of communicator are you? Do you know what approaches people take while engaging you makes you mad? Makes you feel intimidated? What works? Gather honest feedback from those you interact with on your strengths and weaknesses as a communicator. Pay attention to how you handle the feedback and look past any feelings you may have about them.
Valid criticism is key to finding your weaknesses and improving. For instance, if you know you tend to fidget, keep it in mind while talking to peers, and start noticing what you do, and why. Identifying problems once their known makes it easier to catch yourself in the act, a good first step to improvement. Reflect on your daily interactions and start to figure out how you communicate.
What kind of communicator is the other person? Try to imagine what your approach might sound like to them. It is best to plan your approach ahead of time, using what you know of the other person to formulate a way to communicate effectively with them.
Communication only works if both parties understand where the other is coming from in approach and during the interaction; it’s called empathy. Should you be asking for something, the listener or speaker’s handling of your approach will be much more receptive if your communications acknowledge their stake, their struggle, or their situation in regards to your requests.
When possible, show gratitude for the time someone has put in communicating with you, even if the communication does not go as planned. Gratitude makes future approaches easier and more welcome.
What is your end game? What are you trying to achieve with the communication? Idle chatter or laying stones for a future networking option? Keeping your end goal in sight while minding the other person will help you to best direct your efforts. End game in mind, do not cut out all non-gain communication events. Be wary that burning bridges is not always ideal for future endeavors in the business world, and a little polite, friendliness can go a long way.
Depending on the purpose of the communication, gather facts relevant to your case, presentation, or situation. Know your part in meaningful achievements, your shortcomings and your plans for fixing them, and any other pertinent information to be an honest communicator. If the other person does not meet you halfway, you will have no regrets, having said what was needed.
Directing the discussion as a “we” problem, rather than a “you vs. me,” will invite the other person to also engage openly, rather than with defense. Practicing your approach would be ideal.
If you know the planned conversation could be polemic, practice summoning those heated feelings while remaining rational and articulate in word. Nothing in business will mar your reputation as a business professional than a badly timed blow up; remember with a temper there’s usually more to lose and less to gain. Above all else, be sincere with your approach. People will shut down is they perceive hidden agendas or trickery.
The Two Way Street
Talking is not all there is to interpersonal communication. Listening is the huge, important, often-hard-to-do, part. Sometimes people get so caught up with talking; they lose their listeners and the weight of their words. Pause every few sentences, gage the listener, and cater carrying on to their reaction. Adapting your communication method, as their reaction progresses will help delivering your message.
While listening, actually listen, as the listener may want their response or message to be equally as accepted into consideration. Authentically paying attention and responding to points they bring up as they relate to your query will help to develop the communication. Open-ended questions are good for a back and forth set up. Open-ended questions cannot be answered with ‘yes,’ or ‘no,’ and ought to be situational. Ideally the questions would establish a thoughtful baseline where you can forge a potential networking connection, show you paid attention, leave a positive impression, or yield useful information.
People ignore this more than they should when communicating with others. Inviting postures, stances, and airs invite more receptiveness than closed off, shifty, or prideful ones. Occasional eye contact, facing your body toward the listener, and avoiding fidgeting will help you to appear as you should be, attentive and listening. When you thank them for their time, slouchy shoulders, a limp handshake, and no eye contact screams insincere gratitude.
Interpersonal communication is a skill, and like many skills, needs practice and refining to unleash the full potential. While you do not get to choose the outcome or how someone will handle your communications, but you do get to choose what you do about it.
Communicating is a two way street, and handling it like you would any respectable relationship will get you far; remember, authenticity, empathy, and listening. Those three aspects encompass all the tips here, but have different manifestations and application. Dharma Home Suites hopes this article has been useful in helping you to be a better interpersonal communicator.