Is 2014 your year? Is it time to work on your communication skills? Most of us spend a lot of time noticing what others could do better, when what we really need to do is take a closer look at ourselves.
If you want to have better relationships and more success at work, then it’s time to work on you.
Here they are — my top 5 tips for improving your communication in 2014:
1. Know who you are talking to.
We often jump to conclusions about other people’s intent. Think about who you are talking to. Is there a generation gap? A gender difference? A communication style difference? You may be misunderstood or misunderstand. Adapt to your audience.
2. Check your assumptions at the door.
If you don’t understand, ask. If you want something, say so. Don’t assume people know what you mean when you don’t say it. If someone asks what you want, be honest. Don’t make people read your mind or expect them to know what you want and then be disappointed when you don’t get it.For example, If someone asks you where you want to go for dinner and you say “I don’t care,” then don’t be disappointed when you end up eating Chinese when you really wanted pizza.
3. Make sure you understand what the real issue is.
Everyone has their own story. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. So, listen first. Really listen to the other person BEFORE you talk. Seek to truly understand the other’s point of view. Ask clarifying questions and say things like “tell me more.” Then, and only then, it’s your turn to talk.
4. Watch your body language.
The body language you use, whether you intend to or not, makes up 93% of your message. It’s way more important to focus on your delivery than on your words. Pay attention to your facial expressions and your body position. Keep your body open. Make eye contact. Smile.
5. Be kind and respectful.
We can talk about just about anything if we do it in a kind and respectful manner. Make that be your default every time you communicate to anyone about anything. Stop yourself and reflect on how you are coming across – are you being rude, angry, sarcastic? Turn it around to be open, gentle and kind. And, remember what your mom said – “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
So there you have it. Be aware of the areas you can work on, get rid off old habits and make some new ones.
Make 2014 your year!