Everyone could benefit from learning some ways to improve communication. This simple exercise is fun and a great way to learn how to communicate more effectively.
Effective communication is a learned skill, and this little exercise will help you observe how you are doing and then make some changes for the better.
Are You Sending Mixed Signals?
Often we give mixed signals when we communicate with someone. Our body language is not congruent with our words. That simply means that we are saying one thing, and our body language is saying something else.
Here are some examples:
- “No, I didn’t take any chocolate,” he said as he looked down, with chocolate on his mouth, and fidgeted.
- “I’m not really upset about it,” she said with tears in her eyes.
- “Yah, yah.. I’m listening,” he said as he stared at the television.
When practicing active listening skills you are using both verbal and non-verbal communication. At the same time, you are maintaining focus on what is being said, and showing interest in what the other person is saying.
Everything that is happening should make sense, and your words and body language should make sense together.
Practice Listening Actively
Throughout this communication skill exercise consider the below points:
- How does active listening look and feel?
- How does it feel to have someone REALLY listening and how does it feel to have someone HALF listening or not listening at all?
- How often did you make an assumption when asking or listening to the other person?
- How do small children ask a question?… Without assumption, just curiosity.
Your Communication Assignment
Work on this communication lesson for at least a week. (I predict that, once learned, you will continue to use these practices.)
Your goal is to make your friends, family, work colleagues, employers, or the grocery store attendant (practically anyone!) talk more about their lives and situations.
You are going to practice being a good listener during this communication skill exercise.
Keep track of your findings in a journal or notebook.
How to Be an Active Listener
- As an active listener you remove all judgment about the other person’s situation.
- You do not give them any advice or your opinion – you just simply listen.
- Do not do the talking – allow the other person to talk. Give them the freedom to express, to let go of anything they have “bottled up”.
- You may notice that if you nod your head at appropriate times it encourages them to talk more. Be aware of how your non-verbal cues change the conversation.
- Be aware of how eye contact affects the flow of communication – if eye contact gets them talking more then make eye contact – if not, don’t. If you look away and stare at something in the distance does it make them hesitate or stop talking? If so, then keep your focus on them – keep them chatting!
- Use verbal cues during the conversation to encourage them to talk – “aha”, “oh yah”. (If you want any ideas – watch a talk show (like Opra) and see how the host gets a person to talk – or even slants the conversation when needed).
Practice being a good listener with your children.
Ask the lady at the grocery store where she got her necklace or who cuts her hair – and just listen without talking – nod your head – “wow”, “really?”.
Observations to Record in Your Journal
During this communication skill exercise, try experimenting with body language during the different conversations.
Observe and see what works and what doesn’t…
- How does the person react when you lean forward?
- What do they do when you make eye contact?
- When you cross your arms?
- When you look away while they are talking?
- How does each body movement feel to you?
- And how does it affect the flow of the conversation?
- What do you think your body language is telling the other person?
Pay attention to the other person’s body language. Here are some things to notice and record:
- Did their body language match their verbal communication?
- Were they fidgeting, looking down, looking away?
- Did they look directly at you when telling you something?
- Or clear their throat at any time during the conversation? – How does their body language affect how you feel?
- If it’s a person you dislike, and they lean towards you, how do you feel? – Or if it’s a friend, who touches your arm, how do you feel?
As you work on this communication skill exercise, be aware of how non-verbal communication affects your conversation and the meanings of your interaction.
If the person you are leaning toward, backs away, she is feeling uncomfortable. Give her space.
If you lean on a table to indicate interest while your friend is chatting, notice her reaction – does she chat with more fervor or get shy and embarrassed with what she is saying?
We can all learn and improve our communication skills. And, doing so will enhance your relationships and, also decrease your stress and anxiety levels.
Using Hypnosis to Improve Communication Skills
An easy way to reinforce your good communication skills, is to use hypnosis. You can program your mind to give you self confidence and good communication skills. Knowing how to communicate effectively gives you an advantage in business and in social situations.
Knowing how to communicate well and feeling good about yourself is so important to being successful–in every aspect of your life!
Why not take this lesson one step further, and work on improving your self-esteem so that you will feel more comfortable socially and at work.