Have you ever seen someone get flustered while speaking? It’s like a train wreck. As you watch the person trip over words and babble, you can’t look away. For many of us, it’s also a been there, done that situation. However, if you listen, think, then speak, you can frequently avoid these situations.
By improving your communication skills, you will reduce these awkward verbal train wrecks. This will also increase your confidence. When you know how to communicate clearly and smoothly, you will be able to assert yourself as the knowledgeable, confident person who you truly are.
To improve your communication skills, follow these three easy steps. Listen, think, then speak. It’s important that you do these activities in this order. To do them in any other order is inefficient and will result in additional work.
The other day, I recommended that you teach others as a way to build your confidence. Truthfully, you should use the guidelines for how to teach others as a code of conduct in communication.
Sometimes we think we are listening when we are really planning what we’re going to say or ask next. This is inappropriate and inefficient. It’s crucial that you completely understand what is expected from you before you start talking so that you can reply appropriately.
To do this, you must clear your ears and mind, and focus on what is being said. Honestly listen to what the person is saying before you begin the thinking process.
You’ve already done the hard part—listening. Now, if you have listened correctly, you should know what information you’re expected to provide. Think about the words you want to use to communicate your answer.
Hopefully, the other person is waiting with open ears and an open mind to hear what you have to say, but it’s up to you to pick the words that best express your thoughts. Any English teacher will tell you that your choice of words and the order in which you place them is crucial to correctly conveying your message.
For example, the sentences I painted the house white. and I painted the white house. contain all of the same words. However, because of the word order, these two sentences have different meanings. In the first sentence, I indicate that I painted a house white. In the second, I indicate that I painted the white house. Sure, I could have painted it white again, but the sentence doesn’t say for sure.
This is why it’s important to choose your words. You want your communication to be as clear and easy to understand as possible. This will prevent confusion and misunderstandings.
Now, it’s time for the easiest part–speak. You have listened and chosen your words. Simply take a deep breath, make eye contact, and go for it. Sure, sometimes you’ll lose track of your train of thought. Maybe you’ll forget the perfect, precise word that you wanted to use and end up saying “thingie” instead. It happens to everyone every once in a while.
If this happens to you, don’t get flustered. Instead, take a deep breath and start again. The point is that you keep communicating. Listen, think, then speak to set yourself up for success. As you get used to this pattern, you will find your confidence in communicating increases. This confidence will spread to other areas of your life.
Do you have a pro tip for being a better listener? Let us know in the comments below.
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