Good communication is the key to any healthy relationship, but it is not always easy and does not come naturally for everyone. However, it is well worth the effort to take a look at the relationships in our lives and how well we communicate with people around us. It can make the difference on your job, in your marriage and family, and in your community.
Personality has a lot to do with the way that you communicate. Some people are very reserved, shy and introverted and they may often appear to be aloof or arrogant in their interaction with people when they are really not intending to be.
Also, body posture can be a silent form of communication. Be aware of body positions such as folded arms, lack of eye contact or related actions such as not speaking when you are spoken to. All of these positions or actions can send signals that you are closed to the person, angry or at least disinterested. Conversely, leaning in closely or towering over someone can be intimidating positions.
What attitude are you communicating with? It has been said that a smile can be seen across the phone. Are you in customer service? Try to leave the sour attitude behind when you see the customer or even speak to them on the phone. They "see" your smile!
Extroverts may be very talkative, loud or touchy. They might come across as flirtatious or know-it-alls, not necessarily an accurate judgment at all! or they image that they want to convey.
So, how can you adjust your behaviors to increase effective communication? It's important to note that being a good communicator does not mean that you have to act fake or try to be someone that you are not. God created you the way that you are and your personality is unique and special. We just have to assess ourselves and pay attention to the way that we communicate with people to make sure that we are sending the right messages.
For example, if you are a person who is very outgoing, you might talk a lot with your hands, touch people or move into a person's personal space more than others do. This makes some people very uncomfortable and may send an unintended message, especially to the opposite sex.
On the other hand, if you are an introvert, you possibly find it hard to make small talk or carry on long conversations with people. You may tend guard your words and not look people in the eyes when you speak to them. This kind of communication that can leave some people thinking that you are upset, a snob or don't like them.
It will seem awkward at first, but try initiating small talk with a co-worker at the water fountain or spending a little more time on the phone with a customer to find out how they are and what's new in their neck of the woods. Make a concerted effort to look people in the eyes and smile even if you don't say good morning. Your eye contact will communicate enough.
Some of the same concerns apply when writing emails, sending text messages or speaking on the phone. This is an even trickier arena in which to get your message across accurately because the reader cannot hear a tone of voice in the case of written messages and by phone they cannot see your expressions or body language (which we already know can speak volumes!). So I advise you to take extra caution to be sure that messages are not too abrupt. They can be interpreted as rude or pushy, when really, you were just in a hurry.
Little courtesies still go a long way in toning down emails. Use words like "Thanks for all your help" or "I look forward to hearing back from you." Sometimes, "Have a great day!" is all it takes to do the trick.
The most important thing to remember is that we do not have to send incorrect messages to people or unintentionally offend them by our words or actions. Some of the helpful tips that we will discuss over the next few weeks are fairly easy to implement so that you will be an excellent communicator!
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