Some of us are naturally good at communicating, but for the rest of us, communicating well is a skill we have to develop. Good communication is vital for business—you don’t want to misunderstand communication to cost you a potential or existing customer! Here are six sure ways to dial up your communication skills for success.
Focus on the other person. Great communicators do an excellent job of paying attention to the person they’re talking to. Follow their lead and put away your phone, silence notifications, and focus on the other person. When that person speaks, make eye contact to show that you’re listening. By focusing on the other person, you build trust and may even pick up some cues that give you insight into what they’re thinking and feeling.
Carefully listen. When others are talking, instead of listening to them and processing the information, we often think about what we’re going to say next. To break this habit, use one of these two responses. Either restate what you just heard to confirm you heard it correctly; or simply ask the other person to clarify what they just said.
Ask questions, then let them talk. Asking great questions is a skill that takes practice, but asking someone questions about themselves and their interests is a great way to make them feel important and heard. The critical part is, once you’ve asked someone a question, pause and let them do most of the talking.
Use body language. Practice active listening. When the other person is speaking, smile or frown, nod in agreement or raise your eyebrows if that’s called for, and always keep relaxed eye contact. Active listening shows you’re not just listening, but processing what’s being said. Watch out for negative body language. Don’t fidget, bounce your knee, tap your foot, or make other distracting gestures. Your body language should always convey that you want to be there, listening.
Keep meetings short and straightforward. When speaking to customers, prospects, or colleagues, be respectful of their time. Keep meetings short and stick to the points you need to cover.
Practice. The more you practice good communication skills, the more they become a natural part of your business personality and the quicker you’ll become a terrific communicator.
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