As we skip into spring, it’s a good time to dust off your communication skills and rethink how you connect with others – whether at work or at home. Not long ago, I participated in a seminar on effective communications and I left feeling inspired to be more direct and assertive when communicating with both my colleagues and my family. I also managed to walk away with more empathy and a desire to understand where exactly the person that I’m talking with might be coming from. Here are some lessons that I learned and tips that can help encourage confidence, avoid pitfalls and manage tough situations better.

  1. Be confident, powerful and persuasive
  • Walking into a meeting with an understanding of your audience’s needs, a strong belief in your message, and the exact action that you hope to inspire them to take will demonstrate a clear need, supported by compelling information.
  • It’s all in the delivery so use appropriate body language always. Don’t be guilty of saying one thing with your words and something else with your body. Watch for facial expressions, slouching, use of hands and anything else you might be unknowingly doing that could send the wrong message.
  • To develop a winning style, make sure to include assertive language and mannerisms in your delivery. Drive home your key points with courage and you’ll walk away knowing they heard you loud and clear.
  • Pack your message with emotion. Communication is more than just words and thoughts. To persuade someone, you need to give them a reason to believe.
Pack your message with emotion. To persuade someone, you need to give them a reason to believe. Click To Tweet
  1. Watch out for common communication pitfalls
  • Avoid indecisiveness – it can be paralyzing. Prepare what you want to say ahead of time, and then anticipate possible questions and disagreements to your point of view. The strength to overcome indecision and move into assertive action will not only move you forward as a professional but it shows others you have the confidence to make a choice.
  • If you have trouble making a decision or question whether it’s the right one, there are ways to cope. Embrace your indecision – you’re not perfect and you don’t know it all. Practice on small decisions, then move on to bigger ones. And, reward yourself when you do decide – it’ll feel good!
  • When confronted with a situation where you may have made a poor decision, avoid saying “I’m sorry,” which assumes you did something wrong. Instead, say “I apologize,” which assumes responsibility.
  • Be prepared and open to feedback, and focus on the positive.
  • We all know the classic fillers like– “um,” “ah,” and “like,” to name a few. Avoid weak language so listeners can focus on your message and not words that have no value. And, try not to ramble – get to the point quickly, be concise and provide relevant examples. Rambling is often the result of worry, fear, and procrastination.
  • Never say “can’t” – it makes the conversation negative right off the bat. Instead, say what you can do or give a choice.
  • Using “but” is like erasing everything that came before it and it’s destructive to any relationship. Instead, replace “but” with “and” to motivate your colleague or family member.
  1. Improve stress, health and disposition toward others
  • Communicating can be tough – it requires thoughtfulness, emotion, empathy and confidence. Take breaks and walk away from your desk or wherever you may be to get a different perspective. You’ll find that you feel refreshed after doing so.
  • Meditate for a few moments at work or at home. This could be as simple as closing your door and breathing while visualizing something you enjoy. Controlling how you breathe is an important relaxation tool. So is laughing – this simple act relieves tension in your body.
  • Exercise daily to maintain endorphins that will keep you alert and energized.
  • Prioritize and determine what needs to be done most urgently – the rest can wait. And, practice delegating at work and at home to help reduce stress so you aren’t doing everything yourself.
  • Be social, talk to a friend, try a change of pace or take a vacation! Doing so will allow you to re-energize and be a better communicator.

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