let’s take a moment to review the topics I am covering on the subject of communication this month:
1. Fundamentals of Effective Communication and Overcoming the Obstacles of Communication. Last week, I covered the basics of communication so you can say it well. This lays the groundwork for everything else I talk about this month. We also covered those obstacles that might get between you and effective communication.
2. Improving Relationship and Business Communications. I will cover the two basic kinds of communication: business communications and our everyday relationship communications. In this week’s edition, we will look at how to improve both, so we can excel and enjoy every area of our life.
3. Verbal and Nonverbal Communication and Listening Skills. Next week, I will cover the two kinds of communication I use and how to better use them. Most of us are aware of our verbal communication, but less so of our nonverbal communication. We will also take a look at how to be a better listener and why it pays to do so. We will cover this in next week’s edition.
4. The Essentials of Powerful and Effective Presentations and Using Communication to Further Your Dreams. This covers all you need to become a better speaker for when you are called upon to give a presentation. Whether you present once a year or once a week, the tips you get here will make a big difference. We will also cover how communication plays a significant role in the pursuit and achievement of your dreams—all of this in two weeks.
So let’s get to it!
What you say affects how you communicate, certainly, but just as important is what you don’t say. Yes, your nonverbal communication has a major impact on how well you communicate. Have you ever given much thought to how you communicate non-verbally? Here are some thoughts on ways to use nonverbal communication to support what you are saying verbally.
Use your hands. Keeping your hands by your side will make you seem stiff and uncomfortable. Instead, use your hands to communicate. Now, don’t get too demonstrative to the point where people are wondering where your hands are going next. One way to see what you do non-verbally is to tape yourself speaking. Watch what you do with your hands.
Use your eyes. The eyes can be a very powerful tool in communication. You know the old saying, “The eyes are the window into the soul.” It is true. Think of what a mother communicates to her newborn when she gazes into their eyes, or what a husband and a wife say without words when they look into each other’s eyes. The eyes speak volumes.
Have you spoken with someone who is constantly looking around? What does that communicate? A lack of interest in what you have to say.
When you speak to someone, look at them. Give them your attention with your eyes. Listen to them with your eyes. Communicate with them that they are important.
Your arms. Some people do not even realize when they are “closed off” to someone else by crossing their arms when the other person is speaking. Those who study this tell us that crossing the arms is a surefire way to close yourself off from the other person. It communicates closure, fear and opposition.
Speaking position. When you are communicating, especially in a presentation situation, your speaking position, whether you are standing, sitting, kneeling, etc., can communicate a lot. For example, Zig Ziglar, a master of the stage, will frequently move to the front of the stage and kneel. What is he non-verbally communicating? He is saying, “Listen closely to this. This is really important.” He is bringing the audience in for an “intimate moment.” Even in a room with 1,000 people, this way of communicating can make every individual feel like Zig is speaking closely to just them.
Sitting communicates casualness. I know many speakers will give a considerable part of their presentation this way. John C. Maxwell, and a world-class leadership expert, gives quite a bit of his speeches while sitting. His style is informative and casual—and it is effective.
There are other little things to be aware of: Nodding your head says, “I’m listening.” Tapping your foot or jiggling your leg says, “I’m bored, nervous or impatient.” Everything we do with our bodies communicates, whether we are speaking or listening. As a person who desires to take their communication to the next level, you should be aware of what you communicate non verbally as well as verbally. As you begin to master both, you will begin to communicate with a higher and higher level of excellence!
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
Communication has always been two-way, not one-way. It involves more than one person. Effective communicators understand this.
There are many things to listen for that will tell you a variety of things about the person who is speaking.
Here are some things to listen for:
1. What the speaker is actually saying. This is taking their comments literally, not reading between the lines. First and foremost, listen to this.
2. What the speaker is trying to say. Sometimes, people try to say something but have difficulty getting it across. Work to hear what they are trying to say.
3. How they are trying to position themselves. Sometimes people will try to make themselves seem better than they are. Sometimes they will downplay themselves. This is “positioning,” and it is usually done with a purpose. When you know how they are positioning themselves, then you can figure out why as well.
4. The speaker may be trying to impress you. If they are, what are they really saying? Perhaps it is self-esteem issues or trying to cover a weakness.
5. What the speaker think of themselves. Ultimately, the longer they talk, the more they will reveal what they think of themselves. This is important to know.
6. What the speaker hopes for. People will talk about their dreams and what they hope for. Listen closely.
7. What the speaker fears. Fear is a powerful force. Listen for what they fear, and you will gain a great understanding into what drives them.
8. What the speaker’s emotional attachment is. Are they emotionally attached to what they are talking about or could they care less? It is important to know.
9. How important the speaker thinks the topic is. How highly do they value the topic at hand? Are they committed to it? If you listen closely, you will be able to tell. This also goes for how important they think you are (or your product or service).
10. What the speaker’s educational/socioeconomic/culture level is. You can tell a lot by the words they use, their vocabulary, their accents, etc. Listening can give you some insights into the people you communicate with. Certainly you do not want to stereotype, but you can sometimes hear a lot by listening for these things.
11. What the speaker likes or dislikes. Ultimately, people are driven by what they like and dislike. They move toward what they like and away from what they dislike. These things are important to know.
If you listen and take mental notes (or real notes if you can), you can learn a lot about people as they speak. This will help you understand them better, which will enhance your communication. It will help you build relationships and will help you help them. It will help you sell to them if that is a goal.
Listening is key—you just have to know what to listen for!
The N.J.W Blog