Five Ways To Be A Better Communicator   Leave a comment

By Celestine Chua

I recently met a former colleague for lunch, and throughout our get-together, I couldn’t help but feel there was a communication breakdown. He would cut me off even though I was still talking. He kept name-dropping and talking about people I didn’t know, but acting as if I should know them. And trying to stay in the conversation was frustrating, so I just gave up and nodded to whatever he said.

Sound familiar? Well, here are 5 tips for better communication.

1. Be receptive to what others say. While it’s good to enter the communication with a clear objective of what you want, don’t be so focused on it that you tune out important messages the other person is trying to communicate. Have a focus and, at the same time, keep your mind open.Even if people come across as critical, learn to deal with critical people and be open to criticism. Many people are quick to shut out criticisms but in the process lose out on a lot of valuable advice and feedback. Ask yourself: “What made the person say this? What lessons can I take away from this? How does this relate to my situation?” With an open mind, you can have more answers to what you seek.

2. Look out for the subtext. Subtext is the underlying message of the communication, or “reading between the lines.” Many misunderstandings between people occur because they take each other too literally, vis-a-vis responding to the subtext. Listen actively to what’s communicated and be observant. Watch out for hand gestures, body language, voice speed and tonality. The most important points of communication are usually not openly articulated. Knowing how to read the subtext will take you a long way in building great relationships.

3. Be positive. Being positive means being generous with emotions such as love and kindness. Have you ever communicated with emotionally stingy people? These people are critical all the time. They keep harping on a small mistake and pinpointing every issue they can find. It feels suffocating and draining to be around them. On the other hand, being an emotionally generous person makes you more endearing to be around. Show genuine care and concern for the person’s well-being. Give praise where it’s deserved. People will look forward to interacting with you because they feel happier and uplifted doing so.

4. Respect the person. If you don’t respect the person first and foremost, it’ll show itself during the conversation. Acknowledge the person’s background, expertise and capabilities. Even if it’s a colleague you dislike, respect him or her for what he or she has done. How do you feel if someone doesn’t respect you? You can’t expect others to respect you if you don’t first respect them.

5. Maintain eye contact. Looking at the speaker in the eye is a reassuring way to let the person know you are listening. You don’t have to stare 100 percent of the time, just maintain your gaze long enough whenever he or she looks over, and give a reaffirming nod every once in a while.


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