The Interview by Hilde Vercaigne of LifeGrowthDevelopment.com
What is the importance of having good communication skills?
Good communication skills are the difference between getting what you want in life and doing without. It really is that important.
Look at any highly successful person whether that be in business, politics or family life. You will be hard pressed to find someone who has attained and sustained long term success without great communication skills.
Furthermore, to truly enjoy life and share it with good friends and people who respect and care about you, you`ll need good communication skills to get to know people and to express the ideas, opinions and thoughts that make you an interesting and likable person to know. There is no way you can do this otherwise.
Can anyone improve themselves when it comes to good speech and how they express themselves?
Yes, anyone can learn, improve and enjoy better communication skills. All it takes is the determination to get better and a good model to follow. That model can be someone you know who has great communication skills who you can learn from or it can be a communication skills course that teaches step by step practical solutions to the most common problems people experience when it comes to expressing themselves.
Even people who already have good communication skills can get better. It is simply a question of attitude. Do you really want to improve? If you do, follow a proven formula.
What skills do we need to get our message across when we want to make a point without being aggressive or pushy in anyway?
First of all we need to understand how powerful voice tone can be. We can be assertive and direct without appearing aggressive if we speak with a soft voice tone and a lower volume. If we also adopt a relaxed posture we will not come across as pushy.
Secondly, it helps if we can make the same point in different ways. That way we won`t appear dogmatic and too persistent. Be flexible in how you express yourself – give examples of what you mean, reference proof that supports your point and talk in language that makes sense to your listener. Do all of this and you`ll find people more receptive to what you say.
When we think of communication, we usually think of more than 1 person involved. But what about the communication between what we think and what we actually say, or what we feel and how we express ourselves. Can we improve ourselves at that level?
Yes we can. I highly recommend meditation. Start and end your day with meditation and you`ll cultivate a greater awareness of how you think and feel in different situations. Once you are more aware of how you operate you`ll have a choice – do I want to make a change or not? If you want to change then mentally rehearse how you want to be, imagine having a thought or feeling you want to express then play out how it will be to express that. With practice you`ll develop the ability to express a wider range of thoughts and feelings.
Emotions can literally shut us off while being in a conversation. Can you share one secret that can help us in dealing with our emotions and still be able to participate in the conversation?
Make a decision to give 100% attention to who you are talking to and become so absorbed in both what others are saying and how they are expressing themselves that it takes all your brain power to watch, listen and get a feel for all the subtle elements of their communication. To be more specific track breathing, voice tone variance, eye movements, language patterns and body language shifts. Track all of this activity and observe how these elements interact simultaneously.
If you pay close enough attention to these factors it`ll be impossible to also fixate on any nerves that were stopping you from being effective in the conversation.
We have been talking about active communication, what about passive communication e.g. body language, attitude? How important is that in a one on one conversation?
Body language is more important than the words we speak. We need to treat the dance of body language between two or more people as an essential ingredient that we cannot neglect.
Matching and mirroring is important just be careful to also lead with body language or you may neglect to express your personality and simply end up agreeing with everything the other person is saying.
Whenever there is some tension or disharmony the first element to check is body language. Check that you are matching the other person, correct poor posture or any lack of involvement expressed by your body positioning and you can quickly regain rapport.
And what if we are in a group meeting, how do we best handle ourselves if we want to actively participate in the group happening?
In a group meeting we first of all need to spend some time weighing up the different participants. Which ones are actively contributing? Which ones are passive observers? Who is the group leader?
Then we need to go with the flow of the group to establish our position as a positive contributor. We do that by agreeing with the influential group members where we share their opinions.
Once we have established that we share the values and common objectives of the group we`ll have much more impact whenever we want to win over the group to over viewpoints.
Is there a tip you can share that we can immediately put into action to improve our communication?
The single best tip I can give anyone is to choose to like the people you meet. Instead of waiting to see if you like people and waiting for them to prove themselves start off by assuming you like them unless they give you a reason not to.
This makes you a much warmer and more attentive person to meet. You`ll come across as more positive and interested in others and you`ll tend to bring out the best in other people. In this respect, expecting to like people causes you to like people and they in turn are more likely to see you in a favorable light.
What tools would you suggest to help us become better communicators?
I highly recommend ongoing learning and setting a goal to become an excellent communicator. When you set the bar high and aim to learn and improve a little each day you`ll spot tips, tricks and techniques used by other people all the time. You`ll gradually and consistently get better and better.
You`ll learn from the friendly and popular people in your life. You`ll start to view communication skills as a skill that can be learned. Luck has nothing to do with it.
Consequently, you can model the techniques you see popular people using. Copy their approach and you will enjoy better results in your own life.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and where your passion comes from, your great ideas and insights regarding this interesting topic?
I noticed early on that the people who were not only successful but enjoying their lives all had great communication skills. They seemed to glide through life and people enjoyed their company and valued their input.
I then started studying communication skills and I used everything I learned to become a much better communicator. This changed my world. When you can talk to anyone, get your point across and be a great listener you live a fuller and happier life. This has been true for me and I continue to learn and improve.
Because I am always observing great communicators in action and learning new approaches I enjoy sharing these ideas with people through my courses and at my blog.
I believe good communication skills are critical to expressing your true personality and to having good relationships with the important people in your life. That`s why I teach this key life skill.