I believe confident and effective communication isn’t something that you “cram”. It’s not something that you beat yourself up on either just because you don’t how to yet; it requires faith, patience, focus, training. It’s a gradual buildup. It requires mastery. Think of it as a powerful skill set pyramid — each step is more improvement until you reach the apex, which also needs to be re-sharpened often. So you probably would nail it the first time, and then again, you probably might not. Don’t beat yourself up. If this acts as any consolation, I froze up midway in a debate I was the lead speaker at back in senior high school, and babbled…my cramming scheme failed, big time — it was on state television by the way. I’ve never seen it till this day.
That’s public speaking, but for this article, I’ll focus a bit more on personal communication because I believe it’s the basis for public speaking and oratory, and then breeze a bit on those two.
Communicating is a basic human instinct — the need to connect with other humans. It’s always been. Cave drawings, hand signals, writing, those guttural sounds, body language. Communicating incorporates our feelings, emotions, a certain level of truth and authenticity with these exchanges. Communicating is one thing. Effective communicating is another — not just talking and exchanging, but exchanging in such a way that the message you intend to pass across is clear as well as the tone and feeling, and the receiver understands it and interprets it the same way and in the same tone and the same feeling you had in mind. A reminder that communication is two-way. Language is another system that promotes communicating. Poor communication or miscommunication leads to misinterpretation that can cost, a lot.
Confidence is another deal. It’s being comfortable in your own skin. You don’t feel intimidated by others; you don’t see yourself as superior to them but you are well aware of your worth and force and do not diminish it. A lot of individuals I’ve interacted with shroud their lack of it in a number of body languages. I’m afraid I have to break it that they doesn’t really conceal it. In fact, they give it away easily.
Confident communication involves active two-way listening and speaking, mental preparation, effective body language.
Listening and Speaking
Listen well, not just because you’re waiting for your turn to speak, rather, listen to understand, without bias or pre-assumption (that can be hard but it can be overcome), what the person is saying, how the person is saying it, how the person is feeling, the undertone feeling given off by the body language and facial expressions — unless they’ve mastered the art of maintaining glassy looks. No kidding, keeping in mind to pay attention to all these things is frightfully difficult but it can be done.
Speak clearly. Speak simply. Let your message be clear and explanatory enough. Don’t interrupt. Don’t try to threaten or attack or criticize the person. Apologize if you’re wrong. There’s nothing wrong in doing that. It doesn’t show you’re weak or less or a subordinate or inferior or “stupid”; it shows you have confident humility. By doing this, it also shows you have respect for yourself and you equally respect others. And one bonus is that people would want to help you a lot more once they know you’re an easy-going person. Acknowledge the person when it’s due. Express gratitude when it’s due. Be humorous if need be.
Go for win-win situations: you gain something, you lose something; the other person gains something and loses something. But above all, everybody wins.
That’s when confidence brewing comes in, where it should start preferably. Arrange your points in your head; speak it to yourself that you can do this. You have to let go of that mindset that you’re not confident because if you don’t, there would always be the mind playing tricks on you. You can pretend it for that moment, not with an I-don’t-care gesture however, but by just being free. You still have to shift your mindset. Rehearse what you want to say. Use your talk cards to do it if they help — this is for public speaking.
Effective Body Language
This is very necessary: having great and positive body language. Nod your head. Use your fingers if you’re listing things. Maintain eye contact — don’t stare overtly to the point the person becomes uncomfortable. Strive to maintain a balance. Body language can go long ways in encouraging someone to open up and dampening one’s confidence.
On a final note, and summarily,
“When you communicate authentically, you bring your whole self — your thoughts, feelings and experiences — with you. You show others that you respect yourself and them too. When you’re honest and direct, people pay attention. Your voice is heard.” — Ian’s Messy Desk.
What are your thoughts on personal communication? Are there some more things you’d like to share on it? Please feel free to comment. I’m delighted to learn from you!