How do you show somebody you care? In addition to being present, it’s the words you choose and the way you listen. Strengthening your communication skills gives you the opportunity to build close relationships where there is loyalty, support, and a beautiful balance of understanding. What’s more, as you understand others better, you’re able to gain insight into their reasons behind their thoughts and actions. Knowing what makes someone tick helps you predict and adapt to how he or she will react – for better or worse. Through your communication skills, you’re able to change the course of your conversations. And, by communicating well, you can improve your relationships.
Successful communicators look for patterns. Recurring themes are found when you’re reading between the lines. They know that by listening, they’ll be able to hear what is said and, also, what goes unsaid. This is because as they are listening, they are taking note as to common triggers and preparing for them. They are responding to other’s needs through their messaging and showing thoughtful consideration for their concerns.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by trying to relate better to other people, but feel like you’re not being understood or you’re not being heard, perhaps the reason lies within mutual understanding. This means that you may not be aware of something another person is feeling and by leaving this out, it is affecting your relationship. By not being relevant, your message is off the mark. It doesn’t match what matters to that person. Fortunately, there are ways to improve the way you communicate, but, in order to gain a heightened awareness of yourself and others, it does take work, and an open mind.
If you have been wondering how you can communicate better with others, these 5 skills will help you improve understanding and strengthen your relationships:
It’s all about the packaging! How your message is framed makes a difference when it comes to how others will respond. You’ll need to present your message in a way that is not only simple, but also clear as to what kind of response is expected. Get a feel for how others respond to similar messages beforehand so that way you can adjust if necessary. You can also help others understand your message better through visual cues and body language. Having visuals can supplement what you’re trying to convey by applying emphasis in ways that words cannot.
“All generalizations are false, including this one.” – Mark Twain
In order to understand what your audience is looking for or why they are reacting a certain way, the easiest way to investigate is through asking them. But, if you want to get a sense of what they’re thinking and feeling, a less obvious way is through mirroring. When you’re sharing a message, watch for reactions. Pay attention to visual cues and feedback.
Facial expressions and behaviors will show you whether you’re evoking any emotions. Watching for reactions will help you understand where trigger points are — whether positive or negative. Being able to figure out what’s actually reaching others gives you the ability to connect in a way that matters and you’ll know how to get a response.
You can then refine your message by adjusting your tone and the words you choose in order to provide what others are looking for. As you adjust, you’ll be able to test for reactions to see if you’re getting close. Consider why your changes are or are not working and you’ll gain a deeper understanding.
3. Functional Empathy
Empathy is the ability to see something from another person’s point-of-view and consider how they’re feeling (and why). Empathy can range from being able to feel what others feel, to understanding the reasons behind why someone feels the way they do, to relating back to others with shared experiences or thoughts. If you’re looking to communicate better, think about how others are feeling during the flow of your interaction.
By looking at where people are getting distracted or no longer engaging with you, you’ll find out what’s no longer relevant to them. This is where they stop caring. Knowing how to hold attention and avoid a drop-off is especially helpful because you can better plan your conversations, messaging and experiences.
By practicing your storytelling skills, you’re able to engage others in a way where they’re interested in hearing more. Through stories, you’re able to share anecdotes, lessons and information in a way that’s easier to connect with. It’s an excellent way to create more connection and share information that is easy-to-relate-to; not to mention, build excitement!
With so much information competing for your audience’s attention, you’ll be able to draw in and hold an audience’s attention. A compelling story can be memorable and inspire others to share their own stories. Through sharing these stories, you’ll be able to build and develop more understanding and insight into other people’s experiences.
“There is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself.” – Anthony Rapp
5. Receptive Language
Take note of where the people you’re talking with are coming from. If you’re speaking about one thing, but it’s completely different from what they need, they’ll quickly check out. But by encouraging responses through selective phrasing and questions, you’ll be able to determine if you’re understanding them properly.
If they continue to stay engaged, you’re on the right track when it comes to reflecting their interests. Your language and choice in words can encourage feedback and open-ended responses. These types of responses will help you find out if your audience can relate to what you’re saying. And, using the information you gather will help you determine what resonates best. As you genuinely show you care and take interest in others, you’ll find that others appreciate your interest.
Developing these communication skills will give you the ability to better relate to others, develop more loyalty, and build stronger relationships, all while increasing internal and external awareness and uncovering underlying needs to show you care.