A lot of people have been conditioned to believe that they need to talk a lot. We've all met the person who seems to be in love with the sound of their voice and rarely lets people into the conversation. What we sometimes forget is that communication is over 90% non-verbal which means that talking is just a small part of what we're supposed to be doing.
Yet millions of people wake up every day ready to tell the world something rather than learning something from the world. We spend our time trying to tell our story rather than gaining more insight into others' experiences. Think about your own style: Do you talk more or do you listen more? What would happen if you shifted your style just slightly. Highly effective people understand that getting their point across is often as much about understanding someone else's point of view as it is putting one's own opinion into the mix.
Here are some tips to help you add to your communication skills:
- Try to listen more than you talk.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Try not to think of the next thing you're going to say.
- Try not to think of the perfect rebuttal.
- Stay away from questions that lead the conversation in a certain direction.
- Let people say what they want and give them the space to do so.
- Did I mention listening?
The key skill we ignore in life is listening. It's incredible what we learn when we take the time to really listen to someone. Suddenly we understand people better and can make decisions based on rich information. We avoid misunderstandings and we connect with people on a deeper level.
Perhaps the most powerful proof that listening helps improve our lives is that it allows us to breathe. We don't have to fill up space, we don't have to think of witty things to say and we get to learn all kinds of interesting things about others and relax more.