Almost everyone has had the experience of feeling a little lost in a conversation like they just… missed… something; and improving communication skills is a way to avoid feeling like that in the future, or to at least reduce how often it happens.
Benefits of Improving Communication Skills
Having the ability to communicate effectively is vital to business success and in interpersonal relationships, but it is a skill rarely taught in school and it seems as if some people have the skill naturally and others always struggle with a touch of awkwardness.
Using myself as an example of awkwardness in verbal communication, I can usually write what I want to say pretty effectively, but I often choke on my words when I have to talk to someone in person or on the phone unless I’m talking to someone I know very well and am very at ease with – I always KNOW what I want to say, but I sometimes have trouble getting the words to come out of my mouth.
5 Tips for Effective Face-to-Face Communication
- Listen to the other person: The most obvious place to begin is by listening more than you speak, so you can hear and understand the other person’s words.
- This isn’t always easy because you may be eager to express your ideas – but expressing your ideas without hearing the other party’s thoughts and concerns can make you seem overbearing and you often miss the point completely.
- Watch the other person’s body language: While listening to the other person’s words, also watch their body language to see if it matches up with their words.
- If you aren’t familiar with reading body language, take a bit of time to study up on it, because it can profoundly change the way you interact with others.
- Make eye contact: Without going as far as the ‘ creepy stalker stare’ – make sure you are making eye contact when speaking with others – both while they speak and while you are speaking.
- This can be really hard for those of us who struggle with social awkwardness, but it is a learned skill, and you can get better at it by practicing – even if you have to practice it alone in your bathroom by talking to your reflection in the mirror.
- Give feedback: Feedback that you give can be as simple as interjecting a “really?” after someone speaks or as complex as restating what the other person just said – but in your own words.
- Feedback confirms that you were listening and heard the other person’s words.
- Receive feedback: Listen not only to what the other person says in a face-to-face encounter but also to the feedback they give when you speak.
- This means you are not assuming that the person heard and understood your words, but that you are hearing what they say in response to your words.
Being able to use face-to-face communication effectively can make the difference between being that person who stammers or who stands alone in any group and being part of something bigger; and while it may always feel like a challenge if you are an introverted person, it is possible to learn this important communication skill.