Ah, so it begins. Before I even start making posts on improving your communication skills, first let’s go over the common barriers to effective communication. After reading this article, you’ll learn exactly how to stop yourself from committing the most common sins of ineffective communication.
Potential Barriers to Effective Communication
1) Language, Culture
In today’s world, it is becoming more and more common to see cultures blend together. Thus, if you want to be persuasive and well understood with the majority of people, you’re going to have to understand the basics of how each culture views the world.
Now, I know this sounds intimidating. But really, it shouldn’t be because it’s not as hard as it sounds.
You have four options:
One, you can go into the world and figure it out through trial-and-error (I don’t recommend this– it’s painful, sometimes humiliating).
Two, you can scour the internet for information on how different cultures perceive value, what kinds of general beliefs they hold, and so on.
Three, you can dig into your friends’ brain’s about their culture– this option, I recommend the most if you’re tight on cash.
Or Four, read Craig Storti’s short book, Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference— this final option, I most highly recommend. All the information is in one place, the author’s writing style is like a conversation, and it’s the fastest way to break down the most common potential barrier to effective communication. However, option three works just as fine if you’ve got the time and friends.
2) Lack of Presence
Presence is something not a lot of people talk about, but basically it means living life in the present moment, undistributed by your thoughts and worries.
Lack of presence is another common barrier when it comes to persuasion because literally, when you’re not present, you’re distracted. Surprise!: People can sense when you’re distracted even if they can’t put it in words! Another surprise!: Nobody enjoys feeling like your cell phone is more important than what they have to say, nor do they enjoy half-minded replies when you’re too busy thinking about something, anything else!
If you take the time to practice some of the things I’m about to recommend below, you will be able to make others feel like they’re the most important people alive. And when you do that, people will be drawn to you. People will love you. People will be persuaded by you and will value your company.
There are many ways to increase your presence. The way I like to increase my presence is by practicing meditation. If you’ve ever wanted to give meditation a try but didn’t know where to start, I recommend Headspace, an app that guides you through the meditation process and explains just how distracted your mind naturally is.
However, you may be reading this and thinking “Meditation? No way, buddy.” And that’s okay. If this is you, you can practice being in the present moment by using your focus.
How to Increase Your Presence Today
The next time you have a conversation with somebody and you find yourself distracted, begin to focus on what they’re saying. Whenever they speak, imagine that you are them. If your friend is talking to you about the time she spilled coffee on herself right before an important interview, allow yourself to feel the frustration she must have felt. This requires your total focus, and thus you will be sucked into the present moment, and she will be able to feel your presence.
To help yourself experience her words, engage all your senses. Allow yourself to smell the coffee in the air (er– on your shirt), to stress out about how you’re not going to get the job and how you have bills to pay and oh my god what are you going to do now!!!
For extra presence, do not allow yourself to formulate a reply until she finishes speaking. Simply experience her life through her words with her, as she speaks. You’ll feel the difference, and so will she.
If you’re serious about developing your presence, I highly recommend this book. Not only will it help you develop your presence and increase your persuasive abilities, but it just might profoundly change your life. And although I can’t guarantee that it will, it has personally enhanced mine ever since I picked it up. It’s called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and aside from persuasion, this book contains information that I think the world needs more of.
3) Body Language
If you’re unfamiliar with nonverbal communication, you might have heard the term ‘body language’ somewhere before. According to Google, body language is “the process of communicating nonverbally through conscious or unconscious gestures and movements.” But what exactly are these conscious/unconscious “gesture and movements?”
Here are 6 common body language mistakes and how to fix them:
Do NOT overlook the power of body language! Remember: 55% of what you communicate is through your body language, not your words.
Because of this fact, I recommend you read What Every BODY is Saying by Joe Navarro. This is the book I used in order to master my body language, and I believe it is the fastest way to gain a tonne of knowledge on the subject fast.
Eventually I will dedicate an entire post for Body Language if there is a demand for it, but for now Joe is the way to go.
4) The Way You Speak
Just like the info graphic above states, 38% of what you communicate is through your tone of voice. How you say what you say is often more important than what you say.
Here’s a 10 minute video about How to speak so that people want to listen. It goes over the basics of how to manipulate your voice, and it will help you tremendously on your quest to being a persuasive, effective communicator.
Sweet! Did you learn anything?
If so, I recommend writing it all down. There’s something about writing what you’ve learned down physically that helps your brain change its physiology towards applying new information into your life.
Your writing becomes ‘real’ on paper– something you can sense, unlike the type of a keyboard or cell phone (although I do admit, sometimes I just use my iPhone’s notepad if mobile).
Now, go! Apply what you’ve learned! Knowledge is useless until it becomes ‘real,’ applied knowledge.
You didn’t come here just to read now, did you? Of course not! You’re here to grow your skills. So do it. Apply what you’ve learned in any way you know how. I’m not going to let you have an excuse 🙂
Until next time,