How to be a better communicator?

+17 votes
asked Sep 13, 2015 in Culture & Society by CamillaClift (260 points)
My boss recently told me I needed to work on my communication skills. She said I’m not “engaged enough” (or something like that) when I’m dealing with customers and colleagues. I didn’t think I was that bad at communicating, but I asked a few friends and they all laughed and said I was terrible! I like my job and I don’t want my lack of communication skills to jeopardize my future with the company. But I’m also not show how to improve, so how to be a better communicator?

3 Answers

+29 votes
answered Sep 18, 2015 by RuthHindmars (350 points)
I’m currently studying to work in the real estate industry and we had a whole module of learning based around communication. The big criterion was that you be an active listener – pay attention! Show that you’re listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, summarizing what they just said (“so what you’re saying is that you want something close to the city”) and asking clarifying questions.

All of this shows the person you’re talking to that you are interested, paying attention and that you want to hear more. Another thing to be aware of is your body language – apparently 70% of what we convey is in our body language, not what we say. So if you’ve got your arms crossed, your legs crossed, your teeth clenched and your eyes are wandering off into the distance, you’re not exactly coming across as engaged and interested (more like irritated and bored). The course also recommended practice sessions. Sit down with a family member or friend, and ask them to talk to you (could be about work, a hobby, anything) whilst you practice active listening. Afterwards, ask them for feedback.
+2 votes
answered Sep 24, 2015 by DarleneGayle (210 points)
Do you use conversation fillers a lot? Words like “umm”, “ahh” or “like”? During the course of a day, try to keep track of how often you’re using these fillers. If you’re using them a lot, then you may be coming across as uncertain and not very persuasive (not great for dealing with clients). Another thing to look out for is long and awkward pauses – do you encounter these frequently? If so, formulate a little list of possible questions you could ask (relevant to your business, not just “do you like to birds?” or “are you a dog or a cat person?”… Unless, of course, you work as a vet, in which case they might be relevant questions). Another big issue is distractions – if we are distracted by a ringing phone, a beeping email alert or even just the hunger of a skipped lunch then we have more trouble concentrating on what people are saying. So try and eliminate distractions. Before meeting with colleagues or clients set your phone to silent, turn off alerts and have a sandwich. It may be enough to keep you focused on what is going on.
+2 votes
answered Sep 26, 2015 by LeonAlmond2 (220 points)
I once asked my husband how to be a better communicator and his answer was “don’t talk so much!” Whilst this was funny/annoying response, depending on who you ask, my husband did raise a valid point. He felt that I was spending too much time talking and not enough time listening. I was listening to his opening sentence or two, jumping ahead to a conclusion of what he was trying to say, and then interrupting to respond. Whilst I thought this was a more efficient way of doing things (time saving), he felt that I wasn’t really listening and he got irritated when I butted into the conversation before he was finished expressing himself. So ask yourself: how much time do I spend talking and how much time do I spend listening?
commented Sep 27, 2015 by Barbara (380 points)
This is a million dollar question in interpersonal communication!!!
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