When I was offered some communication skills training recently, I was skeptical to say the least. It was ran by a life coach, came highly recommended and I wasn’t paying for it. Sure, why not!
I can confidently say that it was well worth my time. I have a clearer vision of my future both on an employment level and throughout the rest of my life. One thing that became an obvious “want” of mine, is to learn how to communicate effectively with others.
I believe I am a good communicator – my outgoing communication is good and I have no reservations with telling people my feelings or what I think. My challenge is when I’m trying to talk to someone who doesn’t communicate well. When I began the coaching I was under the impression that if I was talking to someone that was unable to articulate their feelings, it was a situation where “they can’t communicate, so they need to change”. Things aren’t always as they seem.
In my personal situation, people close to me often tell facts about their day to day life, but nothing of emotion, deep meaning and true value. I can hear about what happened at work for an hour (being busy, what new policies there are and so on), but not how tired they are from being busy, or how the new policies affect them (disappointment, frustration, etc). I acknowledge that facts have their place, their place isn’t here. When talking to someone you care about, you want to know how they feel and how life is going for them, not dry, unemotional facts of their life.
Communication Skills Training helps you to help others’ take part in meaningful conversation
With effective communication skills, you can encourage the most introverted person to open up and tell you meaningful information about their life.
Some useful steps to effective verbal communication:
- Remove Distractions – The easiest way to start a quality conversation. Television, radio, a computer, newspaper, etc. They will all distract you from your conversation. If the person you are talking to thinks you aren’t listening, they aren’t going to open up to you. This is easily fixed – turn the TV off, put the paper down, switch off your smartphone.
- Be Curious – Ask questions about the content of their conversation. If you are genuinely curious, the person you are talking to will begin to open up to you.
- Clarify – By clarifying what the person is saying, they often respond with more meaning in their speech.
- Paraphrase – Say what they told you, but in your own words.
- Mirror – In their words, repeat what they said.
- Clarify – By clarifying what they are saying in your own words, you will make sure that you know what they are telling you. They will most likely further clarify what they are saying too.
- Ask Questions – Although point 1 is asking questions, this point is directly in relation to how it has affected them. It’s a direct question for meaning. “How did you feel about that?” “What was the impact on the rest of your day because of that?”
Drill Down for Meaningful Conversation
Your main objective is to drill down for meaning. Drill through the facts and the information to find out how they are coping with life. Find out what makes them happy or sad.
Not convinced after my first training session, I went straight to my desk and mirrored a colleague when he told me something about his home life. He proceeded talked for about 5 minutes about how life was affecting him at the time. I couldn’t believe it – it worked! And I was able to put a smile on his face after it all too – a good vent was all that he needed.
Coaching has taught me that much more is in my control than I first thought. If I can use these communication skills to help others, my life will be happier too. We all win!