Published Mar 27, 2002
Tips to improve your communication skills
No matter where you are, or where you want to be, you need good communication skills to succeed. Don't worry if you don't have these skills already, everyone can learn to communicate more effectively. And understanding personality Type can help with the process.
While the MBTI® (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is a great tool for helping you choose a career, it can also help you recognize your communication style. And help you improve your communication skills. With this in mind, I'd like to share a few things about how we interact that I picked up from Type theory.
Some people are born listeners. Others are born to talk. Type theory refers to the first group as Introverts and the second as Extroverts. The first trick of effective communication is to know whether you are an Extrovert or an Introvert. The second is learning how to communicate with your counterpart.
If you're an Extrovert, you're probably quite social. Being around other people energizes you and you find being alone draining. You probably initiate conversation, say what's on your mind, think out loud and speak first, think later. You may find yourself planning your response while the other person is still talking.
Introverts are almost the opposite. You get your energy from within and often find social events tiring. Most likely you are a great listener, do your best thinking alone, pause to reflect before speaking and choose your words carefully. You may often find yourself leaving a meeting without saying what's on your mind.
Although these descriptions are brief, it's easy to see these are two different communication styles. So how do you bridge the gap? By not only recognizing the differences, but respecting them as well. Here are a few suggestions.
If you are an Extrovert:
- Practice your listening skills, try to focus on what the other person is saying and think before you respond
-Don't assume that silence means agreement, in meetings be sure to ask others if they agree and wait for their answers
-Realize that some people need to reflect before answering,give them a chance to respond; don't feel that you need to fill every moment with words
-Make sure that everyone has the opportunity to express their ideas, request opinions, but don't force others to speak
-Understand that some people prefer to see it in writing
If you are an Introvert:
-Practice speaking up in meetings, don't make others guess what's on your mind, tell them; if you disagree say so
-Realize that some people think out loud; don't take everything they say as a call to action, they may just be verbalizing their ideas
-Try to develop your nonverbal communication skills, smiling, odding; any action will make you part of the conversation
-Don't feel that your contribution is unimportant, try to express your ideas even if they are not fully developed
-Understand that some people prefer to hear it said
The next time you're in a meeting take a little time to observe each person's communication style. Who is open and friendly? Who seems more quiet and reserved? Think about how you fit in the mix.
Whenever you meet someone, take a few minutes to assess how he or she communicates. The better you understand someone, the more you will get out of every exchange. And isn't that what effective communication is all about?
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