1. You have to be certain your non-verbal cues match what you are saying. Most of the time this is natural. You smile when you are happy, slump down when you are not. There may be times when you wish to show a different message than what you are feeling. You may feel nervous, and wish to show confidence. Take a deep breath, straighten your shoulders, and raise your head up. Put yourself in the “pose” that means confidence to you. You will feel more confident! Your posture even sends a message to your mind!
2. Think about what your body is doing in certain situations. How are you sitting? Does your posture send the message of attentiveness? When talking to someone are you looking at the person you are conversing with? Remember, whatever message your body is sending will trump your words. Is your body telling the other person in this conversation that you aren’t interested, or that you are, that you do not care, or you really do? You have the conscious choice to decide what message you want to send, and it starts with your body.
3. Nervous habits can send a different message than what you intend. The problem with these habits is that most people do not realize they do them. Distracting habits can include touching your face often, jangling coins in your pockets, or use of “word whiskers” like saying “um” in every pause when you speak. Certain habits convey certain meanings and these can be distracting and take away from the effectiveness of your communication.
For instance, if your posture is slumped over or if you touch your face, that reflects that you are not confident or approachable, and that you are feeling uneasy.
4. Practice making appropriate gestures at important points you are making. If you want to ensure your message is understood, use gestures that enhance your message when you speak. Reinforcing your points with appropriate gestures increases the effectiveness of your message.
5. Pay attention to your emotions. We all have had times in our lives when our emotions have “gotten the best of us”, and usually not in healthy, productive communication. When emotions take over, they will be what the other person will pay attention to, not what you are saying. Then communication breaks down, and miscommunication happen. If necessary take a few deep breaths, count to 10 (it really works!), or take a time out if necessary.
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Wishing you the best,