As any public speaking coach will tell you, effective connecting is all about how we can engage others through communication in a meaningful and positive manner. Here in Charlotte, I run across many who are looking to enhance their ability to do so. As such, there are certain skills that go into achieving such a contact and into building it into something that will achieve the end result you desire. Over the course of this and the next three articles we will discuss skills that are invaluable to achieving a level of effective connecting.
Effective Connecting Skill #1 – Listening
Before you can learn to speak with others it is important to learn how to listen effectively. You will know you are truly listening to another when you can both understand what the speaker is communicating and understanding how the individual speaking is feeling.
Benefits to effective listening include:
- Achieve time savings through clarity of message and conflict avoidance
- The speaker can feel more engaged with you, his listener, leading to a stronger bond
- Help to create an atmosphere of safety where individuals involved in the conversation can feel more open toward sharing their thoughts or feelings
The following tips will help you to become a much more successful effective listener if you take time to learn them and use them each and every time you engage others in conversation.
- Keep your attention centered on the speaker. Do not get distracted by outside influences such as your cell phone or in worrying about making detailed notes. Missing out on the speaker’s nonverbal clues can leave you on the outside of the conversation looking inward.
- Let the speaker know you are interested. Offer nonverbal clues of your own such as smiles and nods at appropriate times. Allow your body language to remain open, and use verbal cues to help the speaker feel more inclined to continue.
- Do not allow the speaker to feel that you are passing judgment on what they are saying. Just because you may not agree with them or even like them, it is not polite to prejudge what they are trying to communicate. If you want to really understand their point of view you must suspend your natural urge to judge.
- Redirects are not only rude and uncalled for; they can also alienate the speaker with whom you are attempting to connect. Concentrate on what the speaker is saying rather than dwelling on what you would like to talk about.
By implementing each of these steps you will find that becoming an effective listener is much easier than you may have thought. Letting others feel that you are interested in what they are saying is key in keeping them invested in the conversation. Keep in mind however that effective connecting involves more than just listening. It involves how you carry yourself as well. Please feel free to check back for our next article which will cover Effective Connecting Skill #2 – Nonverbal Communication.