Communication can make or break any relationship. This goes for all relationships; whether it be work, friendship, family, or romantic relationships, how you communicate will determine the stability of the foundation in each of those relationships. So, what exactly makes a good communicator? You might be surprised to find that it takes more than just being a smooth talker. Check out these five habits that every good communicator has.
Look and Listen
The most important trait of a good communicator is to be a good listener. When engaging in conversation, be aware that you are taking in the information the other person is sending. Put the phone (and any other distractions) down, try not to think about what you will say next, and really take in what they say.
Also, be sure to pay attention to the body language of others both while speaking and when they are speaking. When they are talking, look for nonverbal cues of things like their confidence in their message or the emotions behind them. When you are speaking, watch their reactions, both spoken and unspoken.
Don’t Send Mixed Signals.
Good communicators are self-aware of their body language and tone. Be aware of your own body language; is your body language sending the message you want? Check your non-verbal cues. Take a moment to look at some of the facial expressions you make; try practicing speaking in front of the mirror. Also, take a look at your “listening face.” Some of us have an awkward, bored, or annoyed-looking resting face (see RBF). This is really nothing to be ashamed of. Still, it can give the speaker the impression of disinterest rather than an attentive ear. A couple of nods or smiles, eye contact, etc., can help ensure the speaker that you are, in fact, still with them and haven’t completely tuned out.
Good communicators do not leave a conversation with more questions than answers. Don’t assume something if you are unsure. Speak up! Ask for clarification! You would rather be asked to repeat yourself than to be misinterpreted. The same goes for others. Don’t try to fill in the gaps purely based on your own knowledge alone.
When you speak, try not to be so vague. Make your message as straightforward and easy to understand as possible. Try not to leave it up to interpretation, especially when that message is important to you.
Good communicators know what they are talking about. Back up what you are saying with what you actually know. If you are unfamiliar with the subject, then don’t make assumptions about it. When you speak based on facts, you talk more confidently and make your audience confident about the information you are relaying to them.
Good communicators take the emotions of others into account when they speak with others. Be aware of how your language and tone are coming across to others and how it affects them. The way you speak to others affects their perception of you. Your words can have a powerful effect on others, so be sure you talk in a way that will not trigger any emotions you do not wish to evoke.
Miscommunications often occur because of our perception of a conversation. Awareness is an essential trait in a good communicator. Being aware of yourself and mindful of the people around you will mitigate some of those miscommunications and make you an excellent communicator in no time! Practice practice practice!