We All Communicate: 3 Ways to Do it Better

by Paige Haefer

In our highly digital world, communication is now occurring through more channels than we can count. Slack, g-chat, Groupme, texts, calls, meetings, emails, networking events, and the list goes on and on…

Many of us may consider ourselves to be top communicators. However, as our world continues to digitize, it’s important for us to stay tuned in to a style of communication that, some may argue, is loosing its prominence — our in-person communication. The importance of face-to-face, personalized communication cannot be lost. We should all take some time to assess our communication to constantly improve our professional and personal relationships.

1. Audit Your Communication Style

Self-awareness is a huge key to improving yourself day-to-day. If you can identify where you thrive and where you fall short in communication practices, you can better tune in to changes and challenges that come up in daily interactions. Internally audit your communication practices.

Are you more extroverted or introverted?

What communication channel are you most efficient on?

Do you have any pet peeves with communication?

Understanding how you are communicating with others is a first step in seeking to communicate more effectivly. Beyond understanding though, is also articulating your style. This idea can be tied into that of “Radical Transparency”. Check out my co-worker, Ryan Larcom’s blog on the topic here. Through radical transparency of your communication style, you can better assess and approach each communication in your day more effectivly.

2. Practice Communication Mindfulness

Beyond understanding your own personal communication style and preferences, mindfulness is critical to improvement, too. While you may have mastered an understanding of what your personal preferences are for being communicated with, understanding the style and approach preferred by others is critical, too.

The way you say something is just as important, if not more important, than what you say. Dr. John Gottman, a relational communication expert, emphasizes the importance of avoiding 4 specific approaches with others. Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling are 4 behaviors that research indicates will lead to the breakdown of a relationship. Personally or professionally, avoiding these types of communication is critical to ensure positive and forward-moving relationship development.

3. Tune in to the Non-verbal

Building off the idea of considering how you say something over what you say, body language and our physical engagement in communication plays a bigger role than we often realize. Research indicates that 70% of your communication is body language, 23% is voice tone/inflection, and only about 7% is the words you speak.

Universally, human beings have expressions for specific feelings and emotions. According to the American Psychological Association, learning to interpret someone’s instant reactions, or microexpressions, can be beneficial in gaining deeper insight for everyone from law enforcement to sales people.

Countless studies point to the way we physically present ourselves affects performance in everything from interviews, pitches, presentations, and beyond. Understanding the way body language affects your internal and external perception can make or break performance. Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on body language and its effect on you has over 44 million views.

The speed and volume of our communication abilities and channels will continue to increase making it more crucial than ever to self-assess our in-person communications. In our fast-paced world, we can’t loose the communication style that is truly most meaningful and effective. Proactively working to self-assess your personal communication approach and style will ensure more productive and rich interactions in your daily life.