Ramping Up Your Communication Skills in 2017

Every opportunity in the world can be earned based on your ability to communicate your worth. It can make you a more productive force in the workplace and a generally more interesting person to be around. In many ways, communication is at the heart of any kind of success, so if we’re going to look at ways to improve in 2017, we might as well give effective communication the attention it deserves.

Know what you’re talking about

Too many people think that a talent and confidence in conversation is built on some kind of innate charisma — people that always know the right thing to say. While some may have more natural skill in this arena than others, the right preparation will be what helps you most just like anything else.

Take the time to become conversant in as many topics as possible. Read widely and listen to what others have to say. Build a lexicon of knowledge for the daily interactions that you find yourself having. If your job is built on communicating with other team members, work on developing a shared language for your work so that everyone is on the same page.

What you’ll find as you hone this particular talent is that as you build more of a base of what to say, you’ll be prepared to adapt to any given talking point that comes out. Simply having a wide base of knowledge will make you a more flexible thinker which brings me to my next point…

Have a flexible thought process

Communicating can be thought of in much the same way as running a business. You can’t just stick to the old, stale methods if you want to be successful. You need to be creative in your thought processes and open to every potential opportunity.

A viable business is vibrant and devoted to doing a good job. The same could be said for an effective communicator. Are you tired of having meaningless conversations? Take the time to be more diverse and thoughtful in the way that you approach any given interaction and it will be to everyone’s benefit.

This kind of thinking won’t just make you a successful communicator, but a more interesting person in general. And by and large, people would rather surround themselves with interesting people which can only be to your benefit if you are one of them.

Think of every conversation like a story worth telling

Too many people tread their way into a conversation without any thought paid to the end result — to what they want to gain from the interaction. One of the best ways to tackle this problem is to think of every conversation like a story. Stories have structure and every successful interaction should have one too with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end.

Before you engage, think consciously about what you want to get out of any given interaction. It doesn’t have to be anything overt or explicit. Maybe it’s as simple as an engaging conversation with one of your employees. Once you’ve got that ending in mind, tool your approach toward the best way of achieving it.

The best stories have peaks and valleys and twists and turns. You don’t have to think so much about injecting these things into your communication repertoire, but be aware that they are a part of successful communication so much as a good story. Don’t be afraid of lulls. Awkwardness is a state of mind, not a firm reality.

There is a false assumption that a conversation is only successful if it moves at a fast clip and is perfectly efficient. In some cases that’s true, but not all. Too few people spend the time really thinking about what they are going to say and being genuinely thoughtful about the topics that they choose to engage in.

Break from the mold of stale conversation and take the time to be more interesting and you will not be seen just as a better communicator, but as an excellent person to engage with. That’s the kind of change worth investing in as we head toward the new year.

— ZK

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