MAKING YOURSELF UNDERSTOOD
Here's A Way to Do It Better
We listen to each other with our ears, our eyes and our life experience. In fact, it's estimated that your words are only 20 percent of what you communicate. Many factors, including the locale, the time of day and simple intuition affect how well you are understood. Nevertheless, there's a trick to making sure that the message that's received is the one you send. Here's how to make sure your words are in synch with the way you say them.
Listen To Yourself
Use a tape recorder to capture your style of speaking. Pick a time when you're relaxed and alone. Talk into the machine until you know your voice is natural. Your conversation with yourself should be long enough so that you can pick up repeating patterns of speech. To establish a natural situation, avoid reading into the recorder. Ask yourself:
Look At Yourself
- How's my volume? Am I loud or soft?
- How's my tone? Am I gruff? Do I whine?
- Is my pitch high or low?
- How are my speech patterns? Am I emphasizing or repeating key words?
- How's my pace? Am I fast or slow?
- How's my attitude? Am I a bully? Am I unsure?
Once you've established how you sound, focus on how you look. You can watch yourself in front of a mirror. Try to become sensitive to your physical movements whenever you talk. Again, ask yourself:
Check Your Impact
- Do I move close to my listener?
- Do I use hand gestures?
- What sort of facial expressions do I make?
- Do I maintain good posture?
- Do I dress appropriately for each situation?
With your listener in mind, review how you sound and how you look. Make sure that your style does not interfere with what you say. For example, a gruff tone may mask a gentle nature. Too slow a pace may make listeners impatient. Closeness can be positive or negative.
During real conversations, check your impact in two ways. First observe the other person. Is your listener moving away from you? Is your listener distracted? Does the situation feel tense?
Second, build feedback into your conversational style. Ask questions to confirm understanding. For example, if a project is due next week, confirm what day and what time of day is mutually agreeable. State your feelings and invite exchange.
Verbal communication takes up about 50 percent of our time. It's easier to send and receive the right message when you understand the effect that your presentation has on others. Professionals in radio and television practice to make their speech patterns friendly and persuasive. So can you.
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