Why do you think it’s important to have good communication skills?
And how could such skills benefit you?
In my experience, and witnessing others' experiences, I've come to believe communication skills has an affect on your personal life, your work life, and your social life. Communication is basically central to all your relationships.
In each of the next four posts (well this one, plus 3 others), I’m going to discuss effective communication.
Think about your personal life. If you improved your communication skills, where would it affect your life the most?
For me, I think it would most help my marriage, because even though my husband Josh and I actually are in a really good place, we still get into arguments, and most of the time, it's my fault. I know it's Josh —one of the most forgiving people you’ll ever meet—and he's going to forgive me like it's no big deal.
With him, I don't always take the time to take a breath and say things in a nicer way like I would with others. Sometimes I'm just like, “Rawr, this is the way it is, rawr!” (with clenched fists, a furrowed brow, and a piercing stare). Well sometimes it’s relaxed body language but with a “oh no you didn’t” tone. Ever been there?
So, for me, my marriage would probably be the area of my personal life that could be most improved with more effective communication. Even though I have nothing to complain about regarding my relationship with him, we could be even better if I was a better communicator.
Communication is also huge in business.
When working with my team at Vast Action, Inc., communicating effectively what needs doing, and how to do it, helps projects gets done correctly and efficiently. And it’s not just personal life and business life… there are multiple areas of our lives that can be improved with effective communication. That’s why I’m going to cover four keys to effective communication in the coming days.
Today, the first key is honesty.
Why do you think being honest supports being effective as a communicator?
Whatever you’re thinking (or saying to your screen) is probably pretty accurate. It’s a hard answer to get wrong.
First of all, you don't have to remember what you said. It's hard to remember details when you're making stuff up to come back to later.
You may think to yourself, ‘I don’t tell lies,’ but have you ever not been honest with someone about how you felt? Maybe something happens between you and a friend or a partner or coworker, your feelings are hurt or you’re otherwise upset, and you say, "No, fine, that wasn't a big deal at all," but on the inside you’re so mad?
How can that affect you later?
It can cause you to feel resentful or to keep thinking about that one thing that upset you that you didn’t address. Maybe in the future that person does something small that ordinarily wouldn’t upset you, and you just blow up with anger, because you’re still not over the previous issue.
If in the beginning you might have said, "You kinda hurt my feelings," then it probably could've gone differently. If you don't effectively communicate with someone at the beginning of a tense situation, it builds. It's almost like pressure in a bottle. It builds up until eventually it explodes and you think to yourself, ‘I should have probably let that pressure out earlier.’
Trust is a commodity—and it’s coming up more and more in our world today.
Trust is such a commodity now, you can almost buy stuff with it. For example, this is huge in the world of Airbnb, Lyft, and other businesses that operate largely on trust and ratings. When those kinds of businesses started happening in our world—CouchSurfing, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft—and we were beginning to use them, some people would ask, "You do what? You go to some other city and just stay in someone's house, and they’re there too!?!"
Their minds were blown, and they would say things like, "How? That's so dangerous." But that's why there's a rating system. That's why it's set up the way it is, because if anything ever happened to anybody, the person responsible would get a terrible review, and then they're either kicked off the site altogether or people are just going to read that review and be like, "Yeah I'm not staying there," or “I’m not hosting that person.”
Bad ratings or lack of trust mean you lose money and business.
And it’s not just with those sites. It’s not as obvious in other businesses or aspects of life, but it’s happening everywhere. Even products reviews are more widely viewed now than ever before.
We start from a place of trust in most relationships, personal or business. That's the healthiest way— starting from a place of trust—and we usually trust people until they give us some reason not to. If you're just being honest, then there is one less reason for someone to mistrust you.
There are two other things I think are important to know about honesty.
I can tell you from years of experience that I often see people others are drawn to…sometimes it’s because he's so funny, or she’s super generous, or she is kind-hearted and nice to everyone. There are many positive qualities you can have that draw people in. However, I don't think I've seen any single characteristic be as magnetic to people, in general, as authenticity.
Being authentic has really helped my public speaking career, because I can go up on stage and try to be funny (which I do attempt since I have a secret desire to do stand-up comedy someday…well maybe not so secret anymore), or I can go up there and try to make people cry, which I also do, or I can go up there and try to seem really knowledgeable and give away stats and make myself sound really intelligent, which I don't do very often, but I could do that.
The point is…all of those things, whether someone thinks I'm intelligent or thinks I'm funny or thinks I'm whatever…none of those things will draw people to me as much as if I just go up there and be authentic. Be honest. Be unapologetically me.
People can tell when you are being yourself. Being honest and being yourself are going to pull people towards you more than push people away from you.
The last thing is, because we’re all unique people and we all come with our own perspectives, being honest is what's going to serve the people around you.
It's our differences that cause us to grow as people. I want to know what each person on my team thinks because that helps me learn more. If we’re not giving our honest opinions, our honest perspective on things, then we are robbing each other of opportunities to learn and grow.
I can't tell you the number of times I've worked on something, and I give it to someone else to look at, and they give me feedback that makes me think, ‘How did I not even think of that?’
It seems so obvious once you see it, but it still never occurred to your brain. I want, and we should all want, other people’s opinions and feedback and honesty. Everything we create is better when it has more people involved. I absolutely believe that, and you have to be honest in order for that to work.
The next time you are working on a group or team project, don’t be afraid to speak up or ask questions. That group project (and the outcome of it) will be way better if you share your ideas and perspectives. Because only you can. No one else has the exact same perspective as you. Again…just be honest!
Image by Vladislav Klapin