The Most Important Communication Skill
For anyone serious about success and self improvement the
ability to communicate effectively is one of the most essential
skills to develop.
What is communication? One dictionary describes communication
as "the imparting or exchange of information, ideas, or feelings".
Some people envy those who have the 'gift of the gab' and
always seem to be the centre of attention. However, this does
not mean that good talkers are good communicators; in fact
they are often just the opposite.
Good communication is much more than having the ability to
talk eloquently. It's also much more than being able to convince
people to your point of view. These are certainly useful qualities,
particularly if you work in sales, and most of us have to
sell in one way or another, whether we realise it or not,
even if it's only selling ourselves.
But there's a lot more to it to it than that. One essential
part of communication is the ability to make yourself understood.
But if there is one single thing that that will make you a
better communicator, it's to make more of an effort to really
listen and understand others first, rather than to make yourself
heard and understood.
Despite what many people may think, good communication is
not all about concentrating on getting across our own points
of view and opinions. It has been said that we were given
two ears and one mouth for good reason and that we should
spend at least twice as much time listening as talking when
When engaged in conversation, it is very easy to pay little
attention to what the other person is actually saying. We
can become easily distracted by countless other thoughts and
things happening around us, or thinking about what we are
going to say next. Our brains are able to process information
much more quickly than the speed of even the fastest talker,
so it's easy for other things to fill the spaces and detract
from what the other person is saying.
The most basic - and important - of all communication skills
is the ability to listen impartially, to try to absorb the
essence of what the other person is saying, and to really
understand their point of view. We must be non-judgemental
and really work at appreciating what the other person is feeling
and thinking. This can also be different to what they are
actually saying, often unintentionally. Spoken words can make
up less than 20% of what anyone is really expressing, so paying
attention to overall body language and working on forming
a full picture is vital to good communication.
If you're unsure exactly what the other person means, ask
for clarification. Don't be afraid to repeat what has been
said. This is almost a prerequisite in business meetings and
negotiations, but it can also work in many different situations.
This also shows that we have been listening and want to understand.
One of the greatest compliments we can give anyone is to really
listen and make the effort to understand and appreciate their
viewpoint and feelings.
If you think about the people that you have most enjoyed spending
time with in your life, it's likely that they will have been
people who you felt you could easily be yourself and relax
with. They were almost certainly good listeners. You may not
even remember a great deal about your conversations, but you
will remember how they made you feel.
Like most skills, we can learn to communicate and listen better
if we really want to. Just being aware of the importance of
effective listening, and how easy it is to be a poor listener
is a start. There are also many communication specialists
who can offer much more detailed guidance and help.
Most people aren't good listeners, and working on more effective
listening and communication can make a great difference to
our lives. These are the skills that will help immeasurably
in our professional lives, make us better friends and partners,
and enhance our overall success, growth and happiness.
Quote of the Day:
"The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand
and be understood. The best way to understand people is to
listen to them." - Ralph Nichols
Garry Zancanaro is founder of SelfImprovementDirectory.com
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