After lying in bed listening to my six-month-old daughter fuss for fifteen-plus minutes, I could not take it anymore. I had to get up and take action. As I attempted to comfort her, I thought of the many times before that I had been in the same situation. Holding a little one not knowing exactly how to help or what is wrong. In moments of exasperation I just want to know what she wants!
In the simplest terms, the scenario described above boils down to one of communication. Infants are not equipped to communicate what it is that is troubling them. As I reflected on my sleep-deprived night, I remembered how important it is to communicate well.
Thinking through various situations I find myself in from time to time has allowed me to focus on four reminders for improving communication skills.
- Say something rather than nothing. When my daughter cries she is communicating, but it is not helpful in resolving the situation. Sometimes I think this is how I act when I complain. I am not contributing anything of value in my communication. Additionally, Toastmasters has caused me to be more conscious of “ums” and “ahs” in my own speech patterns. Using these filler words distracts from the “something” that needs to be communicated.
- Do not mumble. With several teenagers in the house, there seems to be a rise in the occurrences of mumbling. I recall a problem with this issue when I was younger as well. Clear enunciation with consistent volume is imperative if we hope to deliver an accurate message.
- Get better with practice. The more we do something the better we get at it. I have observed this on a number of occasions in my own life. Writing for this blog over the past year has improved my written communication. While preparing for a presentation a few years ago, I found that repetitious practice caused the material to stick in my memory. One way to become a better communicator is to develop and rehearse the language you want to use.
- Know what medium to use. In today’s hyper-connected world, knowing the platform to use for our communication is critical. Should I email this? Is a text okay? There are probably whole books written on this subject! I know a friend who is committed to always communicate anything that could be perceived as negative either in person or over the phone. This friend refuses to allow the impersonality of other forms of communication to cause problems. The bottom line is to make sure to apply some thought to the method of communication.
Good communication skills are one of the tools we need in our tool belt if we want to inscribe our mark on the world around us. None of the points included here is earth shattering. Rather, I hope that it is a worthwhile reminder of information you already know. Perhaps reading this will help these crumbs of wisdom to pop back into your memory at an opportune moment this week!
Question: What tips do you have for communicating well? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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