By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
What does it mean to be a good communicator? In today’s society, communication can mean anything from body language to talking to someone face-to-face to sending them a string of emojis.
Being a great communicator is one of the most important skills you can have , and is essential to forming strong relationships, within and outside of work.
There are so many ways to communicate, and so many ways to be good at it… but it all boils down to the one secret tool every good communicator understands and utilizes.
Those who communicate well understand how to trigger emotions in their audience, and the audience in turn will feel more receptive to the message. Your audience can be a room full of people, or your coworkers, or even just your closest friend.
Empathy isn’t just about understanding where someone’s coming from, but also being able to share their feelings. It’s understandable why using this tool in communication makes your audience feel heard, and lets them connect to your message!
Empathy is difficult and nuanced… so how can you use it as a tool for effective communication? Here are a few things you can focus on to incorporate empathy into your communication, be it a casual one-on-one conversation or a speech to hundreds of people.
People have a tendency to open up to those they trust. If someone thinks you’re trustworthy, they’ll have an easier time speaking freely; meaning the lines of communication will be open and clear. Some ways you can build trust are keeping your word, staying consistent, and being open about any mistakes. A big part of empathy is trust. When trust exists, so does deeper understanding.
In the same vein of trust, honesty and truthfulness are crucial to successful communication. If someone can trust you to tell the truth, they’ll be more receptive to what you say. It fosters genuine interactions and sustains healthy, happy relationships.
And telling the truth can also benefit your health… studies show lying actually causes anxiety, sore throats, and headaches.
Giving respect is one of the best ways to diffuse tensions in communication, and show you’re empathetic to the other person. If someone feels respected, they’ll feel much more open to discussing their point of view, even if it doesn’t align with yours. Successful communication isn’t just about people agreeing on a point, but should also involve being able to communicate differing opinions. Respect lets the other person or people know it’s okay to feel differently from you, and that it’s also okay to talk about it!
4. Body language.
Are you aware of how your body changes depending on what you’re thinking or saying? Studies show that most communication is actually nonverbal — 55%, in fact. 38% is through vocal intonation, and only 7% is through your actual words.
Pay attention to your body language, and that of others. Keep your arms and legs open, and try to make eye contact. If these nonverbal cues are being reciprocated, your messages are definitely getting across much better!
Trust, truth, respect, body language… all these are crucial components to empathy, and make you a better communicator. That’s why communicating via text can be difficult, and lends itself to misunderstandings. If you must, try this trick: use emojis! They convey tone much better than dry text alone. If you’re smiling when texting, use a smiley face! Make the interaction more human, and be rewarded with fewer misunderstandings and more colorful text messages!
How do you communicate? Do you think you use empathy to its greatest potential?
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