As a language services provider, our aim is to support our clients with their global communication, helping them engage different worldwide audiences successfully. Therefore, in this blog, we thought we’d share six top tips for improving your communication skills. These could be useful in any scenario, whenever you need to connect with others, convey your message clearly and understand their perception.
1. Listen first
Listening comes before everything else when aiming to be a good communicator. Without listening to understand the position of others, it’s almost impossible to offer something of value to them. Be fully present when listening to others, and focus on what they say instead of planning what you want to say next. Avoid interrupting or talking over them.
2. Ask questions
Ask questions to ensure you understand everything the other person is saying. While helping you clarify the points made, it also builds the connection by demonstrating to the other person that you are interested in what they have said.
3. Be aware of your non-verbal cues
Body language can be very telling when communicating with others, revealing feelings that are not always verbally stated. Be aware of the non-verbal cues you are transmitting to people when listening to them. For example:
Good eye contact – it shows you’re listening and are interested in what is being said. It signals honesty in a conversation and helps to build trust.
Crossed arms – this type of body language can have several meanings. It can often signal feeling anxious, stressed, tense or insecure. It can also be interpreted as a way of creating a barrier when someone needs self-comfort or feels overwhelmed or defensive. Because of these conflicting underlying meanings, more context, such as facial expressions or what is being said at the time, is required to understand the person’s position.
Fidgeting – these small movements suggest feelings of nervousness, discomfort or restlessness
Mirroring – mirroring the other person’s body language is a good way to demonstrate empathy and build a subconscious connection with them. Mirroring could include mimicking behaviours such as crossing your legs like the other person or laughing when they do.
Body language can reveal much about a person but can also be misinterpreted. Therefore, be aware of the potential signals you are giving to avoid confusion or offence.
4. Be concise, specific and thoughtful
Holding someone’s attention can be challenging, and if you waffle off the point or are unclear about your message, you can quickly lose their engagement. In more formal settings, it is helpful to think about what you want to say in advance and plan the best way to clearly and concisely convey your idea. However, even in social situations, it helps to take a breath, pause and think before saying the first thing that comes to mind.
5. Who are you talking to?
Think about the person you will be talking to in advance of your conversation and consider what level of formality is appropriate. Informal and slang language may be okay with your friends but will likely need some adjustment in more business-like settings. Also, consider the person’s background. Similarly to when we use localisation to adapt language appropriately for the audience, you should also think about whether the person will be familiar with the context of your jokes, idioms or acronyms.
Most importantly, if you are hoping for successful communication and to create a connection, treat that person with respect, no matter who they are. Speak to everyone as your equal, without judgement or talking down to them.
6. Write it down
Don’t rely on your memory to recall the things you’ve discussed at a later date. If the communication is essential for your next step in the relationship, write it down. You can do this either during the meeting, if appropriate, or as soon as you step away from it.
At Mission Translate, these communication skills are critical to our service delivery and we seek to apply them across our company. For example, when our account managers listen to our clients to understand their needs, our project managers conduct a briefing session for a project or our linguists interpret or translate to bridge the language gap between two parties.