Become a Better Communicator

By: Julie East, Corp. Marketing & Recruiting

Oct 13, 2020

Do you know what the hardest – yet most important – part of having a conversation is? Knowing that it’s not all about YOU! Having a meaningful conversation with another person is about caring what the other person is saying, instead of thinking merely about how it affects you. It’s about reaching out of your own self and entering a world where you are not the main focus. It’s about listening to a topic that may not interest you or involve you.  It’s about building more effective relationships with other people.



In some cases, the person just needs someone to listen.  Take a grumpy co-worker, who is responding to you in short answers.  They are probably not directing the abruptness at you personally.  People tend to be preoccupied when carrying heavy burdens, and may take out the abruptness on the first person that comes by. In that situation, the best thing to do is just listen.  You may not be comfortable with the topic or even want to give an opinion, but you're probably not expected to.  Just listening goes a long way in building relationships.



This is a hard one for me personally. Sometimes your first reaction is to yell back at someone, but this doesn’t lead to a good conversation.  It only leads to more walls and more harsh feelings. You have a choice in how you react and what comes out of your mouth. You can choose to catch yourself about to defend, debate, nag or antagonize, and choose not to do it.  Step back. Catch your breath. Listen.



When the person is talking, a slight pause isn’t necessarily an invitation for you to steal the floor, so to speak.  Sometimes the person is thinking about what to say. Instead of seizing the chance to speak your mind, process what has been said and ask follow-up questions, or just give them a second to collect their thoughts. Taking the topic and turning it into something you said or you did is not always the best approach. If it’s relevant and would help the situation, then it's acceptable to share your experiences.  Just as crucial, however, is remembering that sometimes it’s best just to listen.



If you are having a conversation with a friend or co-worker and you don’t understand a term, concept, procedure or goal, ask about it. If you get caught just nodding along, not only will you not understand, but it could affect the outcome of the project.  It’s always positive to ask someone to clarify or to explain more about the topic. It not only shows that you are interested, but it also demonstrates that you are not afraid to learn or clarify something that you don’t know.  No one likes a person who pretends to know everything.



Taking the time to summarize what has been said and to check your level of understanding not only makes the other person feel that you value their perspective, but it can also save time and frustration down the road. Reflecting back what you hear is a powerful way to make sure that you’re on the same page and working toward the same goal.



There is more to a conversation than the spoken word.  A sudden shift in body language, a change in the tone or the pace of their voice, arms crossed, a lowered brow, trailing off followed by a change in topic—these are all indicators that there is likely more to the story. Follow up gently, but pay attention for cues of discomfort, and don’t push too hard.  Again, most people just want someone to listen. You don’t always have to respond. A simple smile or touch can speak volumes.


About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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