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How to Practice Effective Communication

According to research from Culture Atlas, Canadians are relatively indirect communicators. It’s time to change that. I will admit, communication is scary, but there are an abundance of new opportunities you can uncover with the right skills.

First of all, as Taylor Swift once said, ‘Shake it Off’. No, really. Take a few minutes before any conversation to breathe and to take a pause. It doesn’t need to take an eternity. Just a few seconds, or even MILLIseconds, will do the job. Taking a deep breath before a conversation sends your brain a mental text that you’re not nervous or anxious. A perfect example of this scenario is if you’re crying. Those uncontrollable, annoying sniffles you get? Yeah, those are easily fixed just by taking a deep breath.

Secondly, review your surroundings. The last thing you want to do is to talk about something intimate with someone while having an audience of people. Things like fights, relationships, secrets, or work information shouldn’t be talked about in big crowds. You want to find somewhere discreet to discuss those things. What I mean, in other words, is to check around you to see if there are any unnecessary distractions. Of course, I’m not proposing that you turn your neck every which way to check every nook and cranny possible, but what I AM saying is that you should always sweep your eyes around the room, kind of like a reminder to your brain of where you are, when should be the appropriate time to say something.

Now, those two tips were just general ideas of things you should try to do before speaking, but I think we’re ready to dive right into the proper way of getting your message across effectively.

Don’t overthink - you probably get told this a lot by teachers and parents, but it’s true! While you should be mindful of your words and manner to communicate, overthinking it will make things worse. In any situation where you need to communicate with one or a group of people, it’s best to state your thoughts as simply as possible. Get the most direct idea out of you in an appropriate manner. For example, if you wanted to express your love for animals, just say something along the lines of, ‘I love animals’, instead of saying a complicated mass of ‘I really love pandas, and deer. Fish are great too, so are giraffes. Don’t you think? I love them. Maybe we could go to a zoo together since I love animals so much’. You can elaborate with other details that are relevant, but each word you put out should get to the point!

Avoid saying ‘like’ or ‘um…’ - Many people enjoy making their sentences as long as possible by including the use of ‘extra words’ (like, um, so, yeah...etc.). Honestly, unless you’re speaking with an English teacher, nobody cares all that much, but you still want to develop a good habit. Don’t banish these words entirely from your vocabulary, since you do need them to produce effective conversation, but try to limit your usage. Some sentences just don’t need the ‘extra words’. Taking the previous example, saying ‘I love animals’ is a much better alternative to saying ‘So, um...I like, love animals’.

Don’t be a dry texter speaker - We all know a dry texter. Dry texting is when you’re engaged in a deep, meaningful conversation with someone, but they reply with an emote, or simply a short reply. All. The. Time. I, personally, am guilty of being that dry texter sometimes. However, dry texting isn’t nearly as bad as dry talking. Although ‘dry talking’ isn’t technically a specific term, I like to think that dry talking is the in-person version of dry texting. Imagine telling a friend about all of your newfound interests and they just reply with ‘K’. (I’m also guilty of being a K friend sometimes, but let’s not talk about that). Replying with such a short and concise answer can lead your friends to lose interest in talking to you. To avoid being a dry speaker, try to come up with a longer, meaningful phrase, or just ask a follow-up question.

Communication is a basic skill used every day. It’s an essential part of the functioning of our society. Practicing effective communication is definitely a must in your professional and social life, so stick on and keep trying that skill!

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