Man is a social creature and as such our social requirements need us to communicate with other human beings. Language was invented so we could share our thoughts and emotions without having to go to great lengths of trouble to make our needs heard. Of course, when we speak, we want to be heard.
Be it our version of a hilarious narration of the latest episode of a hit show or a list of instructions telling people what to do, it is extremely frustrating to continuously have to repeat oneself or worse, walk away with the feeling that the other person did not understand what you wanted to convey. And although we sometimes wish we could, we’d be hard-pressed to get by without conversing with anyone. The good news is that there are ways to avoid wasting your breath, tips to ensure that when you speak, people will listen.
Use body language to your advantage
Use your body effectively to communicate what you speak. Make eye contact. It displays confidence. Be mindful of your posture. Don’t slouch. No one will want to listen to what you have to say, if you don’t seem confident enough about it, or yourself. Smile. A sunny disposition can crumble even the worst resistance in your favour.
PRO TIP: If you’re meeting someone for the first time, start with a good strong handshake. You will be amazed at how conducive people are when it comes to listening to personalities who shake their hand with elan.
Of course, your body language can only do so much. The words you use will ultimately determine whether people will listen to them or not. So choose wisely, use them carefully. Think before you speak. There is no substitute for clarity. It’s imperative that what you say is concise and direct. Leave no room for confusion. Also, remember to enunciate; don’t mumble. Say what you mean, and say it well. PRO TIP: Practicing what you’re going to say beforehand will give you a homeground advantage in any negotiation. If you’ve already said your conversation aloud, in front of a mirror, chances are you might do a better job in front of your audience.
Believe in yourself
There’s no better way to command someone’s attention than to be confident in manner and speech. We’re naturally drawn to men and women who believe in what they have to say, the ones who carry themselves with grace and speak with passion, pride, and vigor. Fortunately, if you’ve already deliberated on Step 1 and 2, you’ve begun to notice a subtle difference in the way you’re being received. What you’re experiencing is called a confidence boost. Keep building on that. Keep telling yourself that you are amazing and you have interesting things people want to listen to. Attract positive energy and abundance. Soon that will become the truth.
PRO TIP: If ever you find yourself in a situation where you feel intimidated or anxious, remember to take a deep breath and refocus yourself. You need to believe in yourself before you can persuade others. Be assertive.
Listen, listen, listen
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but some of the world’s best speakers are great listeners. Remember, what goes around, comes around. Start with showing consideration for what others have to say. Everybody wants to be heard. So let them speak. Be attentive when they do. The gesture will likely be returned. Remember, communication is a two-way street. Being a good listener is a skill that should be developed and nurtured like any other..
PRO TIP: If you find it difficult to stay focussed when others are talking, make it a habit to take some notes. Not only will it keep your mind from wandering, but you might collect a wealth of information you could use in other speaking engagements too!
Sandro Cataldo | The Edge Blog