The renowned Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi said: “The words we speak become the house we live in”. Even though we learn to talk at a very young age, it takes us a lifetime to learn how to speak, what to say when and how to say it, with chances being that we may hardly learn to speak well at in some point in time in our lives. There is always scope for us to improve our communication skills and the way we speak, no matter how good we are and what position we hold in our individual careers. Communication is a vast field with great scope for improvement throughout our life that is if we do not quit trying. All we need is commitment and will to practice.
When we speak, our voice and tone are equally important as the words we choose. Rest assured that our communication style, reveals quite a lot about us to the listeners. Anyone paying attention to our voice and tone of speech can understand our emotional state, our level of confidence, the command we have over the language and also our geographical roots through the accent we may have acquired. We can be made or marred by what we say, so the way we speak is very important in our lives. We just can’t hide it.
Besides the message itself, the emotions that affect our voice, the tone, the pitch and confidence of the messenger are equally important to make it revolutionary, motivational or even understood rightly. Let’s understand the following elements carefully.
1. Avoid Miscommunication
We, the human beings, are blessed with the ability to communicate through language, which can be considered both a boon and curse. Boon since, we can communicate even abstract ideas and thoughts which has been crucial in the progress of our race. Information and data can be stored for access when required. Curse, since we fail to communicate our emotions and feelings through the language as effectively as data and information. Even ideas and messages can be misleading when we do not pay attention to the right words being used and adopting right way of saying things.
Miscommunication is more prominent in human race than any species of animals. With the introduction of language and eloquence, we are losing our touch with observation of cues through body language. Since animals read the signs and signals quite clearly, they understand each other much better without any miscommunication taking place. We cannot say the same about ourselves.
2. Sharpen your Listening Skills
Good communication involves listening with an open mind, being clear in our thoughts about the message we wish to convey and being ready to handle acceptance as well as disputes, arguments and rejection of the message we are conveying.
Remember, like talking is not speaking, hearing is not listening. We must try to listen with our eyes and our ears. Understand the cues being sent out by audience about the words being said. Know when to start and when to stop a conversation. Listen actively, keeping prejudices and judgements aside. When we listen actively and show others that we have clearly understood what they want to convey to us, it creates mutual respect between both the parties.
3. Breathe in & Breath out
Since we breathe automatically, we never pay any attention to it. Unfortunately, unless we become aware of breathing, we can never bring in clarity in our spoken words. If we pay attention to breathing and keep inhaling and exhaling deeply, we will successfully relieve the nervous energy building up in, moreover in due course of time we can develop a strong voice and increase the impact and intensity of our words.
Proper breathing will ensure we have enough oxygen to keep our mind alert. Shallow breaths will not only steal our alertness, but will also be the cause of our voice being fidgety and weak.
4. Don’t speak with mouth alone
Before we open our mouth to spit out those irreversible words, we should pay some attention to the group of people who are listening to us. If we don’t understand our audience, there is very little chance that they will understand us. We must use of all our senses and body to communicate to be highly effective. Our body posture, eye contact, gestures and facial expressions make a world of difference to the message being conveyed. Do not undermine the importance of thoughts in speaking well. What we think will be reflected in our words, whether we desire or not.
Everyone has once in a while choked on their words due to turbulent emotions raging in their hearts. It is highly important that we keep a check on our emotions as we speak, especially the sensitive and negative emotions i.e. jealousy, anger, hurt or sadness which can impact our voice and words.
5. Ignorance is ‘Not’ a Bliss
Many people fumble in their communication and the way they speak, because they are not aware of their flaws. We should observe our communication and the way we speak to find areas which needs improvement.
Do we speak quickly? Do we get distracted from the topic of focus too often? Do we hesitate and make unwanted sounds before continuing with our sentence? Is our voice so low that we have to repeat our sentences again and again? We have to find out our strengths and weaknesses so that we can fortify our strength and work on our weakness to correct it.
The renowned English writer Ben Jonson once said: “Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things”. Here are few bonus tips to improve the way we speak:
- Establish an eye contact but do not stare
- Put away our electronic devices
- Breathe easily
- Pace our words right
- Manage our pitch and tone
- Use body language, our own and that of our listener
- Do not hear out the words, listen actively
- Be clear about our intention of the conversation
- Paraphrase for clarity
- And Finally SMILE
Learn how sometimes smaller things in our lives make huge impact and you can take some learnings on a personal and professional level by following me on LinkedIn and on our official website. Also follow us on social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Muhammad Sajwani is the Founder, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Evolve HR which aims at transforming, enriching and evolving Human Capital of Pakistan. At Evolve HR, him and his team thrives in challenging assumptions that hinder organisational aspirations, by creating innovative solutions that yield maximum impact, scalability & benefit to a wider base of stakeholders. As a Business Coach and Organisational Consultant, Sajwani knows how to combine business insights with people insights to transform organisations and put them on the path to growth.