From calming down irate customers to negotiating with clients, your communication skills determine your success. Jo Condrill, coauthor of 101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills (GOALMINDS, 1999), recommends these tips to add power and productivity to your conversations.
Think before you speak.
Know what you want to say and make your point quickly. It’ll make it more likely that the listener will remember your message.
Stop talking and listen.
The best way to be a good communicator is to be a good listener. Think of your conversation as a tennis match, with each person taking turns serving and receiving – or speaking and listening. When it’s your turn to listen, do just that.
To get the most from any interaction, find out what people want. Don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no. Instead, ask open-ended questions that will give you more insight into customers’ thoughts and feelings.
Conduct your interaction in a quiet, peaceful location with a minimum of distractions. Turn off your pager and cell phone.
Be mindful of your volume and tone.
Your vocal tone gives the listener a snapshot of your feelings. If you want to show respect or affection, soften your tone. Keep your voice calm and even whenever possible.
Handle disagreements with tact.
Stay calm and think of disagreements as a difference of opinion, not personal rejection. You can understand another’s point of view without agreeing with it. Remember that everyone has a right to an opinion, so respect that and work at finding common ground.
Eliminate audible pauses.
There’s no need to fill every second of a conversation with sound. Verbal fluff, such as ah, um and like, obscures your message and reduces your credibility. If you feel you are about to use a non-word, take a breath, hold it a moment and then resume speaking.
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