In this distant Facebook society of ours, communication and communication skills are increasingly lacking. It’s quite difficult to improve interpersonal communication when most of our communication is through social media or email. So here’s to you. Learn 8 ways on how to improve your communication.
1. Got a monotonous voice? Record yourself
Behind the screen, you don’t have to say anything. That’s why recording yourself while reading aloud is very helpful to self-assess if you pronounce all sounds correctly. Do you fully pronounce the sounds TH, S, B, and V properly? If not, slow down your speech.
While listening to yourself talking pay attention to your voice. How does it sound? Is it quiet? Raspy? Brittle? Croaky? Flat? Guttural? Hoarse? Grating? Monotonous? Nasal?
You need to practice to get an interesting voice. At first, your voice will sound strange.
Record yourself with your phone a second time. Practice reading easy children’s books. Even if you don’t have any children, imagine an audience of children and that their experience depends on your performance. Play with the words. Make the bad guy sound really bad. And the good guy sounds really good. Exaggerate the pitch, rate, and volume.
2. Do you only focus on your stuttering? Journal about your alternative stories
I know writing is not for everybody. Consider podcasting or vlogging instead. Personally, I use Evernote to describe how I did at social events and communication moments. I write the alternative stories about my fluency. This is a great way to see your progress over a period of time. And as a bonus, it changes your IQ.
Journaling is an exploration of language and during that process, you also increase your vocabulary.
Also journaling signals to your brain “this is important”. What this means is that you’re more likely to achieve your dreams and ambitions. This happens because your reticular activations system flags opportunities to achieve the goal.
Journaling about those positive alternative stories allows you to relive the event. This reaffirms you that you have the abilities to follow your dreams. And it lowers your stress levels.
3. Slowing down your mind and your body
If you want to increase your social- and communication skills you need to slow down. Our body is not made for this fast-paced society. By slowing down you allow your body to breathe. It needs time to heal itself. Think about how many moves and processes your mouth and brain has to do to pronounce a word. When you slow down, even if it’s just for a second, you give your brain and body time to process information and to formulate accurate and smooth statements. Take deep breathe and let yourself relax. There will be a day tomorrow to catch up.
4. Watching your communication idols perform
Watching people like Sir Richard Branson, Trump, Gandhi, Obama, Tony Robbins, or whoever you see as your communication idol is a great way to improve your communication skills.
When watching look for body language signals:
- Actions (face expressions, body movements)
- Appearance (hair-style, clothing, posture)
- Voice (hard, brittle, flat, high, low)
- Environment (office, outdoor, individual, crowd)
- Words (“I’s”, “you’s”, “one’s”)
When you control your body language you control how well others perceive you. This means that you can more or less say what you want, but if your nonverbal language indicates you care about the other, they’ll let it go. It’s because our the majority of our communication is nonverbal that it matters so much what you don’t say with words.
5. Have a script for small talk
Small talk is almost a science of its own. Most people have been in small talk situations. Sometimes it went well and at other times it didn’t. It helps to have a plan. Use the FORD (family, occupation, recreation, dreams)-method in small talk situations. And if you realize that the person you’re talking to also uses the FORD-method, why not talk about that?
The thing about small talk is that it’s really not about the topics. Small talk is about the relation.
6. More empathy, please
When you practice empathy you will find that you better understand the needs of other people. You will also experience the world in High Definition as you perceive the world not only through your own eyes but also through other people.
Practice empathy by listening more than you speak. Next time you’re in a conversation and eager to spit out your point of view take a deep breath, slow down. It’s alright not to respond right away. Think about why the other person is saying what’s he’s saying. What’s his motivation for saying it?
Look around and watch other people. A café is a great place to do this. You can sit silently in the corner and have a great view of the entire café. Look at people around you and imagine what they think. How do they show emotions? What are their actions? If you should ask them something, how would you do that having your observations in consideration?
7. Watch your fillers
Common fillers to watch for: “like”, “um”, “uh”, “you know”, “so”.
One point for fillers is that they help you “hold/keep” the conversation turn. Which means that other people won’t “steal” your turn to speak. In this way, fillers fill out space where other people could interrupt.
Another aspect of fillers is that they do not help you look confident. In fact depending on the cadence of your fillers people could see you as nervous and unprepared.
You want to get rid of you fillers but still “hold/keep” the speaking turn. How you do that is by using organizers such as: “First, I want to say that… and second…”. Then people know that more is coming even though you take a short break to breathe while speaking.
8. “Take my wife…please”
All people like a good laugh. It releases endorphins which decrease stress and anxiousness. Don’t be afraid to include humor when talking to people.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” – Victor Borge
Humor is a social glue that makes people stick around.
Humor exists because of contradictions. The classic “Take my wife, please.” is funny because all people think that after “take my wife” the next logical thing to say is “for example”.
What you have is a setup “Take my wife” and a punchline “…please”. The “please” is contradicting the expectation.
Also, timing does matter a lot. You need a pause to build tension, which enhances the punch line.
Where to go from here?
If you want to know more about how to improve your communication skills (especially if you stutter sometimes) I suggest you read: