Advice for Everyday Communication

I am not the world’s best communicator and I am affected by my introvert ways, but lately I have had a couple of conversations that were difficult. I do not mean they were full of difficult content; rather the person I was talking to was not a very good communicator. In fact, while they were babbling on and on I thought up a blog post that offers a little help in everyday communication.

1. Watch Body Language – When someone crosses their arms their guard may be going up against you and your ideas. When the other person starts moving toward the door the conversation is over. When the person leans in toward you that means they are listening.

2. Remove Distractions – This is not a rant against technology, but please put down the phone. When someone is talking and the other person picks up their phone and looks at it, they are basically saying I am not listening anymore. “But I can multitask!” Really? “Can you tell me anything that was just said 30 minutes from now?”

3. Listen Closely – One of the biggest communications problems all of us have is trying to think of what we are going to say in reply. Listen to what the other person says and worry about a reply later.

4. Ask questions – All of us have been in conversations where the other person clearly only wanted to talk about themselves. In those moments I cannot wait to get away from that person. A good conversation is a give and take. You listen, you ask and maybe you share.

5. Be Honest – Say what you mean and mean what you say. You do not need to exaggerate. You do not need to gloss over tough ideas and concepts for me. Just tell me the truth.

6. Go Old School – My teachers said repeatedly, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It is still a good rule.

7. Drop the Useless Phrases – “You Know” or “Like” are conversation fillers that contribute nothing to good communication. Yesterday I heard a lady use the phrase “you know” after every sentence. Two thoughts kept coming to mind. One, someone please shoot me. Two, “No, I don’t know. That is why you are telling me this.”

8. Learn to tell a story – All of us know some bad storytellers. They take too long with the set-up. They focus on unimportant details. They have no resolution or conclusion. The ability to tell a good story in a powerful way is a tool that can fuel all conversations.

This is not an exhaustive list of ideas, but hopefully it will be of some help. Most of us think we are great at communication but the reality is that we all need some work – even me and yes, even you.

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