When you converse at a personal level
B.S. WARRIER for HINDU
Personal conversation accounts for a substantial part of our daily communication. Here are ways of making it effective and result-oriented.
“Unless one is a genius, it is best to aim at being intelligible.” – Anthony Hope (1863-1933), British novelist
In personal conversation you have to take care of many things. An expert in interpersonal communication advises that you should be TACTFUL in conversation. What he suggests is the following;
T – Think before you speak
A – Apologise quickly when you commit a blunder
C – Converse, don’t compete
T – Time your comments
F – Focus on behaviour,not personality
U – Uncover hidden feelings
L – Listen for feedback
In strange company, it is good manners to introduce yourself to others, since that would not leave them guessing who you are. So also, you may greet others first; this shows that you are not plagued by ego feelings. It is most likely that you do get a favourable response.
There is no harm in asking a person’s name if you do not know it. After knowing the name, repeat it during the conversation. The sweetest word for anyone is his/her name. Try to remember the names of people whom you would meet again. Be liberal in showering praise, if you feel someone deserves it.
When ideas are discussed, you should not give an impression that you are too conventional to accept a new idea. Intellectual curiosity will be appreciated in cultured groups. Conversation would sour if you enter into arguments on trifles.
Never try to offer unsolicited advice. Though it is not advisable to bore others by narrating dull events in your life, you need not feel shy in sharing your interesting experiences if the occasion demands. Keep your general awareness up to date, if you want to partake actively in an interesting conversation. You would be able to switch to new subjects when a subject has run out of steam.
Maintain a balanced outlook. Extreme positions may lead to controversial remarks that may mar smooth dialogue among the members of a normal group. Do not go after any contentious issue, unless it is unavoidable. Be tolerant to differing views. Never be dogmatic. Be a good listener. In personal conversation humour has a place, though it should not jar, given a situation. If you are not gifted with the fine art of making humorous conversation, do not attempt it.
You may encourage others to speak by paraphrasing their statements for confirmation and through pleasing body language, including facial expression. Never try to be another person through your language or gestures. People who speak in a natural way are liked by others. Do not try to put on airs. You cannot wear a mask for a long time; you are likely to be exposed. Eye contact and a pleasant smile would add spice to your words. Find areas of common interest during conversation. You can ask questions on subjects that are of interest to the other person, when you are in a one-to-one mode. Everyone likes to speak on areas in which he is well versed. Enjoy the conversation, and show that you are enjoying it. Be enthusiastic.
You should never adopt a stance of arrogance, since none would like to communicate with such a person. Never be rude. Never assume a patronising attitude. But you should not surrender your self-esteem. Avoid insinuation. Show patience; never try to be unduly smart before others. You have to display empathy by entering into the other person’s world of thought, and trying to think the way he thinks.
You can ask leading questions to confirm your interest in his conversation. Questions seeking clarification are generally welcomed by people. Confessing your own weakness would generate sympathy and keenness in the other person and prompt him to listen to you further.
Key to success
Any communication succeeds only when it has been received, understood, accepted, and the intended action has been effected. If such a success has to be achieved, there are several measures we should follow in the process of communication. Ideas and the words that carry them are certainly important. But you should realise that your voice, tone, appearance, and body language are also equally important in oral communication.
Making a presentation
If you intend to make a presentation, not only the structure but the content, logic, and main phrases have to be planned. The right strategies for effective presentation have to be followed. These include:
•Getting over nervousness
•Wearing proper dress
•Proper body language
•Speaking with clarity
•Not reading from a prepared text
•Stating your objective in the beginning
•Following a logical order in presenting ideas
•Choosing the right mode for each item (for example, statistical trends to be displayed through graphs, histograms, pie diagrams, etc.)
•Using charts or computer software such as the PowerPoint or Flash
•Avoiding cluttered display on the screen
•Ensuring that your voice can be heard and the projection seen well
•Synchronising spoken words with gestures
•Not keeping a projected slide on the screen for too long a duration
•Ensuring voice modulation
•Keeping eye contact
•Adopting the language to suit the comprehension level of the audience
•Maintaining appropriate speed of delivery
•Keeping consistency in logic
•Using controlled humour
•Avoiding frequent corrections during speech
•Emphasising significant points
•Interacting effectively with the audience
•Watching the body language of the listeners and making changes in style, if necessary
•Listening carefully to questions from the audience
•Handling of tricky questions wisely
•Not talking beyond the permitted duration
•Giving a summary at the end
It is easily said that you should look at the type of your listeners before choosing your language. But the characteristics of a group are not susceptible to generalisation. Suppose you are addressing a group of rural farmers. All of them may not be the same, in the matter of information or perception. There would be individuals who are much more informed than many others in the group. There may be persons who are far below the general level of awareness. Perhaps in such situations, one strategy that can be adopted is to address the average among the group. This is the style that is followed by good teachers in a classroom comprising a heterogeneous group of pupils, so that the very bright do not get bored and the underachievers do not feel left out.
You are often faced with the problem of convincing others of your standpoints. You might have observed that most of the time, politicians are engaged in this exercise. Marketing professionals and businessmen have to be good in this kind of communication. What are the aspects to be kept in mind when you attempt to convince others on some point or other?
First and foremost you should find out what type of person is your target – on the bases of educational background, culture, language comprehension, age, sex, attitude, and so on. You should ensure that the person listens to you when you speak. If the mood is not proper, you have to generate an appropriate atmosphere congenial to effective listening. The person should be in a listening mood throughout.
What you say should have the qualities or clarity and accuracy. You should plan beforehand your strategy of presentation. You have to be enthusiastic. You have to be confident. You should continuously watch the listener’s expression and body language, and make sure that the person is not emotional when you try to apply logic through your words.
In any persuasive talk, you will have to emphasise the significant points of interest to the listener. Your logic has to be convincing. Use illustrations. Be consistent. If the listener wants to raise a question, make him fell free to do so, thereby making way for smooth exchange of ideas. Make him feel important. If there is a problem to be settled through negotiation, split it into parts and identify portions of agreement, and try to tackle the other portions in stages. Try to build trust at every stage. Never make the listener hostile, lest he should block further communication.