How many times have you had one of those opportunity-lost-moments in your life? You have thoroughly prepared for that job interview, that date, that sales pitch and then one word or one sentence and you get this feeling at the pit of your stomach that you have ruined everything! Needless to say it does not take long for your worst fears to be confirmed.
When you prepare for that important moment what you are likely to do is to get all the information you can lay your hands on. This in itself is good, after all information is power. The problem comes in when we make the
assumption that information equals good communication skills. Any skill is developed through practice. The solution; make impressive and effective communication part of your lifestyle.
One thing that you need to understand about effective communication skills is that while some are born with them and some aren’t, almost anyone can learn them! Good communication is something that can be taught, and people who make the effort to learn all about this important skill come out much profited from the experience. You’ll find that with just a little bit of work, you’ll be able to streamline many things, both in terms of your work and your personal life.
Now if we keenly look at the above situations we realize that the one thing they have in common is high stress and nerves. More often than not when these two come into play we tend to OVER- Communicate. Meaning we try to communicate at what we think is a high level, be what we think is eloquent or some other self-deluding thing or another, eventually saying more than needs to be said.
We are nervous or fear leaving out a key detail.
We find something related to the information we’re providing that we feel is worth mentioning.
We try to sound intelligent or informed.
We try to show off our knowledge or expertise.
We don’t fully understand the level of detail the other person is interested in.
We’re trying to set the other person’s expectations a certain way before we provide them with the information
Our minds are wandering and our mouths are just following along.
Awareness is the biggest thing. Even catching yourself while or immediately after you over communicate is a huge step in the right direction. From there, think about your responses before you say them. Try to be precise and concise without sounding standoffish
Practice giving answers that are precise and to the point.
Be descriptive only if it’s relevant to the other person’s wants or interests.
Try stating the facts only. Avoid editorializing, exaggerating or sugar coating an answer.
If the question requires a one word answer then answer with one word. If the person needs more information, then they’ll ask for it. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, try giving the one word answer and then ask the other person if he or she would like to know more.
The writer is a Communications Officer. Communications Advantage Kenya.