The Art of Communication
By LOUISE MCLEOD
There’s something about talking in front of a crowd that is unsettling. The feeling of every pair of eyes focused intently into mine, scoring my flesh with questions; the hot flush of panic as it tears at my face and the curved tip of my ears. Words are stumbled, mumbled and forgotten as my brain freezes. Just what was I going to say again?
From public speaking to private interactions between friends and co-workers, communication is an integral part of our lives. It helps us to understand and appreciate one another, to convey emotions and important messages.
Ineffective communication, however, can have a negative impact on our life and our relationships. You might miss out on that desired job because you couldn’t answer the interviewer’s questions; have an argument because of a misunderstood text message; even lose a partner because you didn’t know how to say what you really felt.
Fortunately, good communication is a skill that you can learn. Let’s start by looking at the basics:
Listen: As strange as it may seem, the first step to being a good communicator is the ability to listen. When we listen effectively, we are able to engage, understand and respond in the correct manner.
Body Language/Facial Expressions: Communication is also non-verbal. This means that the way we hold and present ourselves sends a message before words are even spoken. Awareness of your posture and a display of positive, empathic expressions will guarantee a more receptive audience (no matter how small).
Eye Contact: Another non-verbal form of communication, eye contact shows personal involvement and interest in what is being said.
Speak Clearly: Good articulation and a clear tone of voice ensure your message is not misunderstood.
Confidence: Even if we feel riddled with nerves, handling yourself with confidence is an effective way of getting your point across. When someone appears to know what they are saying, and does so with assurance, people will surely listen and respond.
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