When it comes to life skills, good communication is an important part of not only maintaining relationships, but reaching success in your career or dealing with everyday issues. If you're trying to improve on your speaking, you might want to take a look at the habits of people who are good communicators, as they may be able to teach you a thing or two about how to get your thoughts across effectively. Good communication should eventually become more natural to you, but to get there, you need to pay attention to certain aspects of how you are talking and behaving.
"A good communicator is someone who knows what they want, is able to articulate that, and listens well for any miscommunications, misunderstandings or need for clarification," says relationship expert April Masini over email. "When all people in the communication transaction understand what’s being said and expected, there has been effective communication."
Everyone finds a way to express themselves differently, but there are a number of key actions that are universally known to help get your point across gently and clearly. If you want to work on your conversation skills, consider picking up on some of these 11 habits of people who are good at communicating.
1. They Collect Their Thoughts Beforehand
"Collect your thoughts beforehand," says psychotherapist Kelley Kitley, LCSW over email. "You can take notes or bullet points to guide you during the conversation or as a way to rehears a tough conversation."
2. They Schedule Hard Conversations
If you need to have a serious conversation, plan a time to meet so you can give the person your full attention and not bombard them when they're feeling highly emotional and vulnerable. "Schedule a time before hand, an ask the person when would be a good time for them to talk," says Kitley. "Many times we're multitasking and not giving our full attention to what's right in front of us."
3. They Ask Questions
"Get more detail and understanding of what the person is trying to say," says Kitley. "This technique shows interest." Asking appropriate questions can help keep the conversation going as well as clarify any thoughts that seem unclear or misleading, so there are no misunderstandings.
4. They Respond With Body Language
"Make eye contact to show your interest and connection to the interpersonal relationship," says Kitley. "Keep your body open — don't fold your arms or turn sideways." Posture is important as well. Multiple studies show that good posture can help people feel in control, handle more emotional distress, and feel more confident.
5. They Don't Judge
"Listen to what the person is saying, but turn off internal dialogue of thinking about how you will respond," says Kitley. "Have compassion." Listening without judgment can help prevent us from speaking sarcastically or passive-aggressively.
6. They Don't Interrupt
Most of us already realize that interrupting is rude, but it can also make you seem more self-centered and less empathetic. "Let the person complete their thought without jumping in to answer or offer suggestions," says Kitley. "It makes it more about you than them."
7. They Brush Up On Their Vocabulary
"An effective communicator has a good command of language and uses it to communicate thoughts and ideas," says Masini. "If you don’t have the words to express yourself, you can’t get very far. "Expanding your vocabulary is something we can all work on by reading books, doing word puzzles, and engaging in conversation with new people — who are smarter than we are!"
8. They Are Familiar With Basic Etiquette
"Good communicators have an excellent command of manners and respect," says Masini. "If you’re trying to communicate to someone from a different culture, you better know that person’s cultural manners so you don’t shift the focus of your communication to a faux pas instead of a smooth relationship transaction. Having great manners allows you to quickly be seen as someone who 'gets it' and is respectful."
9. They Follow Up After A Conversation
"Good communicators follow up to make sure you’re both on the same page after the initial communication has ended, or as a way to follow up to see if either of you have had any new thoughts since connecting," says Masini. "We all know what it’s like to be on the same page with someone, sleep on it, and wake up with a different thought. Following up is a way to keep the communication over time."
10. They Treat Everyone As Equals
"To effectively communicate something, even as the expert, you have to restrain from talking down to others," says life coach Stephanie Holland over email. "No one likes to feel less than, and by using that tone of voice or phrases, you are automatically putting people on the defensive."
11. They Get To Know Who They Are Talking To
"The more you can learn about others in your day to day life the more skilled your communication can be," says Holland. "We all have different strengths and weaknesses and the more we can learn about those traits, the better we are able to work with others."
The more you pick up on these habits, the stronger your general conversation skills will be and the more easily you'll get people to listen to what you have to say.
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