I recall those trucker style hats that have the adjustable bands on the back. As a little youngster playing tee ball, I thought those bands were awesome. If only life wasn’t like those bands, where everything had a one size fits all approach.
Not everything has the cool adjustable band like those hats, but one element does: communication. Mastering the art of communication is a life long challenge, and one that no one masters completely, because there is too much to be learned.
You communicate daily with those around you. People you like and get along with, and people you have a hard time being around, but are forced to deal with. Luckily communication skills are flexible and can be tweaked to any situation, no matter how grim. Mastering the art of being flexible is the key, as that is the ticket to success in academia, career and life.
How to communicate with those you get along with
It may feel natural to speak with or be around those with whom you have no qualms, and the conversation can typically be light and well rounded. Your shoulders let down and you can be yourself. These are typically good friends, classmates, or friendly co-workers.
Ways to continue building these relationships:
- Pat them on the back for their successes – this will likely come easily anyway because you don’t mind giving them praise
- Teach them a skill they didn’t know – this gives you an opportunity to work on something together or be in a teach-and-learn scenario which strengthens your friendship
How to communicate with those you do not get along with
No matter how professional the setting, or how relaxed the setting, you may feel you just can’t strike up a conversation, or hold a conversation of interest with someone you don’t connect with. It is critical that you realize right now that a high percentage of the people you deal with on a day to day basis may fit into this category. Why the phenomenon? Because of the vast array of personalities and backgrounds, we can’t all be the best of buds. In a perfect world that would be great. But in reality, it’s not the case.
No harm done, because here are a few skills to help you sharpen your verbal and non-verbal communications skills to deal diplomatically with those it’s hard to deal with:
- Meet in the middle – Build a communication bridge that can’t be crumbled. Don’t be defensive and work hard to see the other side
- We are all the same, really – Although they are the complete opposite of you, and may make your life miserable, work on yourself first, and worry about your attitude, not theirs
- Stop furling your brow – Non-verbal communication is huge. If you look annoyed or irritated, others know. Don’t be fake and smile until your face hurts, but show a little compassion and don’t give the evil eye
Lead the way and others will follow
Now that you’ve learned a few tips on improving the personal or professional relationships you have by communicating better, apply them often. Rinse. Repeat. When you step up to the plate, hit a home run, others will high five you at home plate. The greatest leaders have often been the best communicators.
Challenge: Strike up a conversation with someone you struggle to talk with. Ask them about their background, learn something, and you never know what could come of it.
About the Author: Mark Mathson sharpens his communication skills weekly by attending Toastmasters. He deals with all types of customers and does his best to communicate well so they can build dazzling Internet marketing campaigns. He enjoys conversing on Twitter and growing and adding value to his network on LinkedIn.
(Photo credit: Esthr)