Strong communication skills are one of the most powerful assets of success. Everything we need and desire is achieved through communication on a daily basis. Through communication mastery, success can be achieved in every aspect of your life.
One of the techniques to achieving strong communication is through positive body language. This is also known as nonverbal language which conducts 80% of all communication. This includes your body language, the tone in your voice, and any gestures you make while speaking. Your nonverbal communication can show that you are being an active listener or that you are multitasking. People want to know that you are listening to what they are saying. So let me ask you this…
How do you listen to other people? What does your facial expression say? When a coworker or your significant other is trying to communicate with you, what is your body language telling them? Do you continue to look down at your phone or type away on your computer while they are trying to tell you a story or discuss a problem with you?
One way to show you are actively listening to them is to mirror their body language. This is a way to show enthusiasm at what they are saying and it tells them that you are engaged in their story. Another way to look at this concept is to mirror your body language with what YOU are saying. If you are telling an exciting story, does your body language scream, “You better pay attention to this story because it’s awesome!” or is it a story you have told before and you don’t necessarily want to share it yet again, but you are humoring your audience?
A second way to show active listening is through LEAPS. LEAPS stands for Listen, Empathize, Ask, Paraphrase, and Summarize. Chalene Johnson indicates that through following these steps will help you become an active listener. Listening is defined as giving the speaker your undivided attention. Put down your phone, stop what you are doing, and LOOK at the person that is speaking to you. Empathizing with what the speaker is saying is the next step and this can be one of the hardest steps. This means you need to think about what the person is saying and understand why they are saying it. For example, your friend is having a conversation with you about how you ‘hurt their feelings’. If you cannot set your ego aside and empathize with your friend where they are coming from, you cannot truly actively listen to them. You then need to ask questions to let the speaker know you are actively processing what they are saying followed by paraphrasing sentences so they know you understand. At the end of the conversation, discussing a quick summary is beneficial to ensure everyone is on the same page. This method helps avoid ‘hot button’ conversations that cause larger conflicts.
I know that this blog was a little long, but communication is an extremely important skill for success and I wish nothing but success for you in the future!