Communication between people is a process in which everyone receives, sends, interprets, and infers all at the same time; there is no beginning or end. Taking into account your own internal states, how can you ensure effective communication of your ideas and feeling?
- Use “I” statements. Using personal pronouns when speaking creates influential statements. They contribute to direct communication. Simply state what you think or feel about something. “I feel frustrated when people are late to meetings” versus “Some people may think that people who come late to meetings are passive aggressive“.
- Describe behaviours without using subjective statements. “You interrupted me several times during our staff meeting” versus “you are an attention-seeker and don’t care for others“.
- Acknowledge and describe your feelings. We tend to suppress the emotional part of our message even though the emotion colouring the message. State it so that others can understand the basis of your message. For example, “I felt angry when you cut me off during our staff meeting.”
- Match your verbal and non-verbal messages. Saying, “I enjoyed your presentation to the board….” while rolling your eyes, will confuse the person and most likely decrease trust and limit communication. Your body language accounts for a large part of your message. Matching your body language to what you are saying will build trust and clarify your intent.
- Get feedback on your communication skills. For most people it takes practice to become an effective communicator. Ask for feedback around the clarity, delivery, and timing of your message. It might feel risky but each small risk will build your confidence and increase trust in those you communicate with.