Thursday, July 5, 2007

How to boost your communication skills and be more approachable

I was recently asked how to be 'more approachable' by someone I work with, it fascinated me that this was an issue for them so I have created some tips on how you can really boost your communication skills, be more approachable and I do beleive this will definitely increase your business.

For some people I meet they are not naturally outgoing or friendly and yet their role requires them to be constantly managing and leading people. Here are a few strategies you can apply to help boost your communication skills and make others feel so pleased they have met you.

Smile – this obvious gesture can not be underestimated. Not only does this exercise your face but it will make those around you feel more comfortable.

Be positive – choose to be in a good mood (even if you are not). Your role is to choose a good frame of mind and that will reflect on those around you.

Make others welcome – use language and phrases that make people pleased they decided to spend time with you. I like sentences like “I am so glad you are here”, “I am so pleased you made it”, “thank you for coming”, “it is great to see you”. All of these words should become part of your daily language.

Eye contact – look people in the eye when you meet them. People appreciate your complete attention and focus, stop what you are doing and make an eye to eye connection with the person in front of you.

Make them important – ensure the person you are talking to feels like they are the most important person you have spoken to all day. You can achieve this by standing still, looking them in the eye, smiling and listening to them.

Listen intently – focus on the words of the person in front of you, stop yourself from being distracted and try and understand not only their words, but the meaning and tone of the words they use.

Nod frequently – show someone you are listening by frequently nodding and acknowledging you are involved in the conversation.

Stand straight – face the person you are meeting straight on. Show them you are interested by giving them you undivided attention.

Be the hostess – when you see one person standing alone, go and introduce yourself and help introduce them to others. People like to be included.

Ask questions – the best conversationalists I know constantly ask questions. Create a list of questions you can use when you meet someone. I like these questions:

What do you do?
Where do you work?
How long does it take you to get from home to work?
What do you like to do in your spare time?

Take a genuine interest in people when you ask them questions and listen to their responses.

Watch others – if there are people you meet that are great communicators, watch them and learn from them. Follow them around a room and watch how they treat others and try those behaviours too.

Be authentic – turn up as yourself 100% of the time be you and others will appreciate it. If you don’t like you, then work on making the changes that you are happy with.

Stop – don’t rush from one person to the next. Stop and have a quality connection with a few people, you will enjoy communicating with people more this way.

Dress well – people make assumptions about you in 7 seconds. In that time they assess your age, income, marital status, education and interests… in 7 seconds! Make that first impression even more powerful by paying close attention to your personal appearance. Don’t forget your hair style, jewellery choices, and fabric of your clothing, shoes and skin maintenance. If you look good you feel good – very simple!

Thank someone each day – I make a point of telling someone how much I appreciate them every day. I use hand written thank you notes, email, phone calls, flowers and brownies. Decide to do this daily and you will build stronger relationships and you will feel better too.

Gratitude daily – each morning before you get out of bed remind yourself of what you are grateful for. This will set up your day in the right frame of mind and will help you in your communications all day.

Ask for help – if you know your communication skills aren’t where you want them to be, ask for others help, feedback and suggestions for enhancement. People want to help you and feel honoured you asked.

One thing – choose one thing to work on and do it constantly. By adding a new item each month you will have transformed your communication skills within a year.

Investing in yourself and building your communication skills and making yourself more approachable has many personal and business implications. Start today.

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