You went to school to learn how to communicate?
I never expected to earn a degree in Communication Studies and, to be honest, I thought it was more of an ‘I don’t know what I want to do with my life, so I chose this’ type of degree. But, after two years of major hopping, I finally decided to earn my Bachelor’s in Communication Studies.
I completed numerous classes in professional, interpersonal, and online communication all while learning the various ways people interpret words, symbols, and body language. The degree in itself was fascinating and I was forced to face my terrible communication skills. Most importantly though, I learned communication is not ‘easy’ or ‘natural,’ but rather it should be studied, learned, and constantly improved upon.
Here are a few tips I like to carry with me when communicating in my personal life and the workplace:
- Stay off your phone. I live, breath, and consistently struggle with this rule. It sounds simple, but try it. When your significant other comes home from work or when you are out to dinner with friends, try to not touch or even look at your phone. Unless it is ringing, leave it alone. No, you don’t need to check Facebook again or ‘look something up.’ Be present and engage with the people in front of you.
- Use gender inclusive language. This was a new lesson for me in college. Growing up, my slang always included phrases such as ‘you guys.’ I try now to avoid such sayings and instead use phrases like ‘everyone’ or ‘you all.’ It now only sounds more professional and educated, but avoids gender exclusion.
- Start using the compliment sandwich. This technique mostly benefits my personal relationships, but I have been a recipient of the compliment sandwich in the workplace and it really does work. The idea here is to cushion your criticism with two compliments. Yahoo posted some great examples you can read here.
Remember, great communication is crucial to healthy relationships at home and in the workplace. Try some of these tips out or check out one of the many books on the subject to better improve your skills. Happy Communicating!