Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another however how good you can exchange information defines how good your communication skills are. The importance of having effective communication skills to ensure the success of family / social / work relationships sometimes can be undermined. Being a successful at communication encompasses a combination of communication and listening skills as well as a range of personal attributes.
Developing your communication skills can help all aspects of your life, from your professional areas to social and everything in between you can possibly think of. The ability to communicate accurately and effectively, clearly and concise, is a vital interpersonal skill and something that should not be overlooked and it is one of the areas coaching can certainly help with. It’s never too late to work on your communication and interpersonal skills and by doing so optimise your quality of life.
Communication involves three components:
- Verbal messages – the words we choose – 7% of communication is delivered by words.
- Paraverbal messages – how we say the words and messages that we transmit through the tone, rhythm, intonation, accent, pitch and pacing of our voices. It is how we say something, not what we say. 38% of communication is delivered by paraverbal messages.
- Nonverbal messages – our body language such as facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, tone of voice, proximity and use of touch. 55% of communication is delivered nonverbally so use your body language wisely.
The best communicators inspire and motivate people. Lets have a look now at specific skills that effective communicators use.
Active listening is arguably the most important element of interpersonal communication. Our ability to actively listen well impacts the quality of all of our relationships at home with our family and friends and in professional setting.
Active listening is listening with purpose and responding in such a way that other person is aware they have both been heard and understood. It also means that you make a conscious effort to fully engage with the person you are talking to and listen with the intent to truly understand them.
Reflection using other person’s own words is also important in communication as it is an extension of active listening and a key interpersonal skill. Through reflective skills you can capture what the person is saying and play it back to them but it’s important to do it in their own words so it feels authentic.I think reflection is a great way to show a person you are having a conversation with that not only you have heard and understood them but also encourages them to talk further and go into more detail about a chosen topic. The essence of reflective listening is that you check back rather than assumes the meaning of what the other person is saying.
I personally use the following tips in coaching and everyday life to enhance my communication and interpersonal skills:
- Pay attention and give the other person your undivided attention and demonstrate interest in their life or their chosen topic.
- Show that you’re listening and respond appropriately – use body language and gestures to convey your attention such as nodding or saying ‘uh huh’.
- Focus on what the other person is saying rather than on the next question as you might miss something important.
- Only ask questions when necessary to clarify the information, allow the flow of the coachee’s speech to keep the momentum going.
- Maintain eye contact – glaze but not stare.
- Show unconditional positive regard – non-judgemental style.
- Open-ended questions – Socratic style.
- Be genuine and authentic.
- Use silence wisely.
- Be self-aware.
- Show empathy.
- Mirroring -don’t overdo it though as it will come across fake. It’s best to mirror someone as you begin to talk as this usually requires some movement and it won’t be that obvious. Breathing is the most powerful thing you can mirror as it makes you sync in with the other person.
- Be respectful.
- Be curious.
- Don’t assume – if in doubt, check it out.
- Be assertive.
If you have any questions or wish to speak to me about communication skills coaching or other stuff, please contact me direct via firstname.lastname@example.org or 07852474343. You can find more information about me and coaching services I provide on my website www.empoweredcoaching.pro. Thank you, Anastasia.
Palmer, S. and Whybrow, A., (2008), Handbook of coaching Psychology. A guide for practitioners, London and New York: Routledge.