No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve probably had at least one or two moments where what you said became lost in translation. It’s such a common occurrence, sitcoms use misunderstandings as a cornerstone of plots every day.
Most of the time, miscommunications lead to minor inconveniences. Other times, the loss is much greater. Either way, those misunderstandings can act as great teaching points about the importance of being able to communicate with others.
Everyone should want to become better at talking to other people. Becoming a better communicator can open up a lot of opportunities to you, make your life easier, and even make you a healthier person. Want to get better at chatting it up? These quick tips can help.
5 Ways to Become a Better Communicator
Become an active listener.
Many communication problems happen because people just aren’t listening to what one party is trying to say. Refusing to actively listen to the person you’re speaking to doesn’t just keep you out of the loop, either. People will pick up on it and start to close themselves off to you, which makes it harder to actually form a connection.
If you want to be a great communicator, you need to actually listen to what the person you’re speaking with is saying. When you hear them speak, listen to what they’re asking for, what their concerns are, and what they want you to know. Try to read their emotions, and ask how you can help.
Most of communication isn’t talking, but rather, listening. So, open up your ears and close your mouth. By listening to the other party’s concerns, you can better establish a connection to them and figure out how to come up with a solution that works for both of you.
Pay attention to body language.
Studies show that over 70 percent of our communication isn’t verbal. Much of what is conveyed during a chat is through body language and facial expressions, so keep your eyes open, too. In many cases, what people say won’t match their body language—and when that happens, you can pick up on how to improve your connection to them.
If you notice negative body language, take a step back from the person and just do what you can to make them feel comfortable. Sometimes, just giving them space and avoiding pushy behavior is all you need for someone to come around.
Cut fluffy talk.
Unless you’re telling a story to a child struggling to sleep, most people don’t want to hear a bunch of fluff. They want to have things told to them in a way that’s plain, easy to follow, and quick.
The faster you can get your point across, the better off you’ll be.
Find common ground with the person you’re speaking to.
Finding common ground with people you’re talking to does wonders for your ability to communicate with them. It makes you more relatable, urges them to work with you, and gives you a more solid footing with them.
People are wired to respond well to those who they feel are like them or otherwise “in their tribe.” By validating their likes, viewpoints, and lifestyle, you’re showing that you are not just some outsider looking in. It’s a subtle way of establishing trust and rapport.
You don’t have to go overboard in order to build a little rapport. Just complimenting someone’s shirt, talking about similar interests, or mentioning that you experienced a similar issue can work wonders for your discourse.
Enjoy the silence.
Silence, when you’re not used to it, can be uncomfortable. Staying quiet often can feel like you’re doing something wrong, especially when you’re waiting for a reply from the person you’re speaking to.
Gaps in conversation aren’t always bad. At times, it can give the other person time to think for a response or the impression that you’re listening. If you don’t really have much to add, it’s okay to be quiet. It’s a sign you’re comfortable with the person you’re speaking to.
If you have to confront someone about an issue, phrase it in a way that makes it a problem you can both work on together.
Try as we may, there’s no real way to make certain phrases sound good. This is especially true when you’re trying to explain an issue that you have with someone’s behavior or a problem that’s primarily caused by another person’s actions.
Saying “you always do [x],” or “I have a problem with the way you [x],” is a good way to make a person feel attacked. Direct confrontation will put anyone, even the most chill person, on edge. A better way to work around this would be to phrase it as a problem that you both can work on together or explain how the problem makes you feel.
A lot of tension in a tough conversation can be alleviated with the right phrasing.. For example, instead of saying, “You always talk over me,” you could say, “I feel very hurt when you talk over me like that. How can we make sure it doesn’t happen anymore?”
One phrase attacks the person you’re talking to, while the other one asks the person to help you help them. See the difference?
The easiest way to sabotage any effort you make to reach out to people is to overthink things. Believe it or not, most people are fairly ambivalent about other people around them. You don’t have to be super smooth in order to just talk to people.
Having confidence in yourself doesn’t need to take much. Logically speaking, there’s really to much that is different between you and this other person at the end of the day. Everyone needs to work, eat, sleep, and have others around them. So, stop worrying so much about who they are and what they think of you. It’s really not a big deal.