Are you communicating your best self? Can you answer that question quickly or do you need to give it some thought? If you have to take some time to think about it, you probably aren’t making your mark. It takes just five seconds to make an impression.
Many people have trouble communicating (i.e. whether it’s asking for a raise or saying you’re “sorry” and really meaning it. Your communication skills are always in flux. Many people don’t really pay attention. There’s the rub. Communication is invisible and happens in an eye-blink. Words can cut to the quick. It’s important to pay attention to how you’re coming across and here are 5 strategies to change your communication image.
1. Find a mentor. A mentor is someone who inspires you and is a role model. The best role models convey dignity and respect for others. Through their dignity and respect comes effective communication. John F. Kennedy and Oprah Winfrey are people who conveyed intelligence, compassion and a great sense of spirit.
2. Find a friend for feedback. The best feedback comes from someone you trust; who can tell the truth (and do it in a way that doesn’t put you on the defense). Ask a friend for honest feedback. How does your communication come across? Does it need work? IN what ways (i.e. vocabulary building, listening better, etc.)? Opening up a conversation for this feedback can get you to understand what is happening under the surface. Without constructive criticism, you don’t know what skills to keep, and which ones to throw out?
3. Check out your strengths and weaknesses. (This comes after your friend’s feedback.) There are moments when your communication shines, and moments when it falls flat. A quick way to see yourself is to make two columns – one for strengths, the other for weaknesses. Do a thorough check on what you do well (i.e. listening to others, conveying empathy), and what you don’t (i.e. interrupting others, overuse of slang, etc.). Now, challenge yourself to work on making your weaknesses a communication strength. Some traits might take a while to overcome. The objective is to face what isn’t working and making a conscious effort to change it. Focus on the words conscious and effort. Many people don’t. If you don’t pay attention, you can’t change the impression you’re making.
4. Get a theme song! Yes, you read that right. Find a song that empowers you! We all have artists that we like and admire. Many times, songs “speak: to us. It can be Irene Cara’s Flashdance –What A Feeling to Steve Winwood’s While You See a Chance (Take It). Find a song that makes you feel good about yourself and gives you confidence. Now play it when you’re faced with a situation that warrants you to face your fear(s), and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone.
5. Face your fear(s). Fear is a constant for any new situation (i.e. asking for a rasiee, saying “I’m sorry” to someone you’ve hurt.) You can’t get away from it. A good way to face fear is to break it into small parts. Analyze the “whole” situation and determine your strategy. Break things down into small parts. What can you handle first and foremost? Now, do it! Afterwards, assess your performance and move on. Bit by bit, you’ll get better.
It takes just five seconds to make an impression. These five steps will point you in the direction for communicating “your best self.”
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