Life is All People. No matter what career you pursue you will be around and rely on others. Someone will need to buy your product, employees will need to carry out tasks and assignments, someone is going to deliver your mail. There are 7.2 billion people on Earth. That means there are 7.2 billion reasons you need to learn to be an effective communicator. Either you are creating a dialogue that is leading toward a successful relationship, or one that is leading towards conflict. Communication is everything, it would be wise to start figuring out how to do it well now.
The more you communicate, the fewer problems you have. I learned this early on in College and wish I had learned it sooner. It started becoming apparent to me because of relationships I had with my Professors. I was busy early on in College because of additional responsibilities as a Student-Athlete. Contrary to the stereotype, I would communicate often with my Professors about missed classes and/or assignments because of away games. Each time, it was like they were having this experience of communicating with a proactive student for the first time of their careers. They didn’t expect the conversations of “so in three weeks I will be missing class and saw you plan to give a quiz that day, would it be…” from any student, let alone a Student-Athlete. The more I communicated ahead of time, the more they seemed willing to work with me. As I moved into my career, I tried to use the same principle with my supervisor and team, with similar positive results. You can see the same!
When I was finishing my Bachelor’s Degree, I was assigned to complete a large research project. I decided to do it on communication and tried to identify common skills or habits that successful people relied on when communicating. I found three common habits of successful communicators, all of which you can start implementing (and see instant results from) right now.
People want to meet people, not the people that people think they want to meet. You may have to read that again, but the message is clear. When I meet new people, I want to meet them. I don’t want to meet the person that they think I want to meet. I have interviewed and worked with hundreds of student leaders and all of them are different, which is awesome! Successful communicators allow their natural personality to shine through. This includes all the quirks. Be authentic. If you crack corny jokes, own it. If that isn’t your style, don’t try to make it. Don’t change yourself for what you think someone else wants to see. You’ll be awkward and they will most likely see right through you. When you feel natural, you feel comfortable. If you are comfortable, then so am I. This helps keep the walls that people often shoot up down.
This sounds general, but successful people truly understand and seek to exchange information and perspectives with one another. This is important because too often communication is only viewed as speaking words. True communication isn’t only saying words back and forth, but it is understanding each other’s point of view. True communication is seeking to understand and then adjusting how you are explaining your side based on that understanding. Stop trying to “win” the argument or simply be heard. You will find yourself such a more efficient communicator when you take some time to hear and understand what they are saying before you worry about if you are being heard.
*Disclaimer* If you want to be a good communicator, you can stop reading now and carry on your merry way. Seriously. Good communicators have fun when meeting and working with people, and they communicate openly and effectively. Want to be a great communicator? Keep reading.
If you are in High School or starting College, you are in a really exciting time. If you start implementing these skills you will blow people away. Similar to the experience I had, no one expects you to talk openly and professionally. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you, but the Millenial Generation is extremely criticized. Use this to your advantage and Nix the Limits that others are trying to place on you. Be different, It’s a good thing. Develop this last skill and you will really make some good impressions.
When you communicate with others, they are giving you their time and attention. Time and attention are the most valuable assets that people have, and truly successful people understand that. When someone gives you their time, acknowledge that. Say thank you for them taking the time to talk with you or answer your questions. Be grateful for the exception or compromise that someone made on your behalf. Don’t let gratitude be assumed, that is a chance that never falls in your favor. It will literally add less than twenty seconds to your conversation, but will leave an impact for years! If you truly want to take the step from good to great then appreciate.
Have Fun. Communicate. Appreciate. Be yourself, make the communication about them, and be grateful for the opportunity to work them. Start now, and you will instantly see an impact as you interact with others. It can be in casual conversation or when the stakes are high. Communication is a skill that takes a lifetime to develop perfectly, but one that you can start seeing progress from immediately. What is one way you could communicate better?