People do not communicate properly. This is not only my opinion but it is 100% true, just look around. Next time you are having a conversation with someone I want you to watch them, just pay attention to them while you are talking to them, don’t be creepy. 99.9% of people are just not paying attention, they are either on their phone, looking around, cutting the other person off, thinking about what they are going to say next instead of actually listening and getting involved with the conversation. I just want to know why this is an acceptable thing, I understand being distracted and having things going on if someone jumps in to a random conversation with you off the street, that is completely understandable but in casual every day conversations it is not.
So here are three simple rules to help you become a better communicator. (these should be obvious but I promise most people are not doing this)
- Eye contact-Even if it’s awkward you need to maintain eye contact, breaking eye contact is natural and fine but the persons eyes are always the point of return, this comforts the other person because they feel like you are more engaged.
- Body language- Be casual and comfortable, not lazy or fidgety. Your body should be facing the person, if you are not facing them re-adjust in a natural way. If you are standing make sure your feet are pointed towards the other person (this is similar to eye contact, the person will feel like you are more focused on them and not off somewhere else) If you are sitting sit straight up, don’t be a stiff, but sit up and make sure you are facing the person speaking.
- Timing- Timing is a tricky SOB. You wait too long to speak after the persons done, and its awkward, you jump the gun and you are a jerk and you cut the person off. This is the hardest one out of all 3 tips, but my only advice here is if you are using 1 and 2, the timing of a conversation will be easier to gage if you are paying closer attention to the person.
Bonus tip- If you cut someone off in a conversation and you do not want to be rude then simply communicate and acknowledge that you cut them off. That is the worst when someone cuts you off, doesn’t say a word about it continues on talking and then doesn’t let you finish what you were saying! (there’s a word for people like that) But if you interrupt someone acknowledge it, “Hey sorry to interrupt I just didn’t want to forget to tell you this, I apologize, now what were you saying?” Get it? Ironically the key to better communication is communicating about your communication.
There is so many different types of communication styles out there, and some do not mesh well together but hopefully with these minor adjustments it can make it more bearable. A perfect example is a of a very good friend of mine and me, we had no idea how to converse with one another, it was frustrating and at times extremely annoying. Michael (pictured above) is quiet, and careful with his words (when he wants to be) and because of this his style of communicating seems very laid back and slower paced. Where my communication style is loud, I say what I think as I am thinking of it and it makes me seem more off the wall. But once I noticed this was starting to be a problem I started to pay attention to what the problem was, not only do our brains work in completely the opposite way (we still end up with the same answer and/or solution) I believe our problem was just timing, which made it awkward, which made conversations longer and harder to understand one another. One day I sat Michael down and after we acknowledged that we are poor communicators and started to understand each other more, it has been great ever since!
I just want people to acknowledge this, if you have someone that is doing this to you, you should say something in the nicest way possible. If you have a close friend or buddy at work, significant other or family member around, ask them their honest opinion about how you communicate if you aren’t self aware enough or 100% sure if you are properly. I think it’s important to get feedback from other people, you might not know if you make funny faces, or cut them off, or stare awkwardly etc. I have been in sales my whole life so I have role played thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of times with other people and I still do not have it down all the way. From body language to facial expressions to timing it is a lot to have to worry about, but if you practice, practice your face off, it will make you a better employee or boss or friend or relative blah blah blah blah. Role play with your dog, role play in the mirror, we all have to get better at it. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.