Being a good communicator is more than being able to speak clearly and effectively. There are three things you learn in coaching that can take your communication skills to the next level
- Active listening - A skill that requires you to fully concentrate, understand respond and remember what is being said. Much like art and music, it requires many hours of practice. Active listening can mean the world of difference when you are trying to engage in conversation, collaborate, express an idea, work on your professional development or strategize. A way to begin practicing your active listening is by turning down the volume of your own internal dialogue, those thoughts going on behind the scenes about things you may have forgotten, things you may have done differently, or what the person standing at the door is doing. Your internal dialogue will cause you to miss out on important and relevant information. Did you know that 93% of our communication is non-verbal and only 7% is verbal? If you are missing non-verbal communication and half listening to the verbal, how will you be able to understand and really engage in the conversation. So, next time you notice your own thoughts creeping into the conversation, go into detective mode, really observe the non-verbal clues and hunt for the verbal evidence.
- Intuition- Have you ever asked a friend how they are, and they answer "fine" but something in your gut tells you that doesn't feel right even though they are smiling- that's intuition. We all have intuition, some of us just don't realize just how much we have. Your active listening practice will allow you to receive those feelings and know what's going on. Go with your gut, your intuition is a tool you are born with but you need to be aware of it and practice using it. In coach training it is something we spend quite some time on. Here are some ideas to help you develop your intuition are: guessing the time without looking at your watch and then checking or guessing who is calling next time the phone rings (without looking at the caller id). One of the ways I like practicing is by placing my hand over my heart, taking a deep breath and asking myself what my heart is feeling? and then asking myself if it's right for me at this moment.
- Silence - Another skill we use in coaching is SILENCE. I don't mean for long periods of time, or actually ignoring someone. If you just pause before responding, that moment right after someone completes a sentence, take a breath count to three, magic happens. Using a moment of silence, just a pause, allows you time to process information; it can allow the other to complete another thought, maybe even solve a problem. It provides space for thought and completion. A pause between sentences can lead to more engagement and conversation. Silence can make people uncomfortable, 9 times out of 10, so if you are trying to gather information or insight from another person, and you pause, remain silent, after they complete their sentence, you will be surprised at how much more information they are willing to share to avoid the silence in the air.
You can start improving your communication skills today, starting with just one new skill can make a difference. These skills take practice and the more you use them the better your communication skills become. If you would like to learn more coaching skills , how to be a coach, or tools for your leadership development contact us for information on our coaching program and our upcoming coaching training and certification programs.