Real talk: I am a TOTAL introvert. I love conversing, but if I really want to recharge, it’s on my own. Communicating in front of large (or small) groups can be nerve wracking and even navigating around crowds before a global pandemic was stressful. (You can probably guess how I feel when grocery shopping today! Let’s just say pick-up-orders are my new bestie.)
Yet life is all about connection and connection is all about communication. To live a life filled with love, gratitude and support is to live a life filled with the kind of communication that nourishes meaningful connections. AND you can do this as the incredible introvert (or extrovert) you are. According to Inc.com, great communicators share authenticity, listen more than they speak, clarify to make sure they understand others and use nonverbal cues to monitor the quality of communication.
You probably have hundreds of connections through your social media and your professional network. Now release the expectation of having deeply meaningful connections with all of them.
Great communication helps you:
Grow meaningful connections
Enjoy relationships that are joy-giving and energizing
Be appreciated for your unique contribution and expertise
How exactly can we become great communicators? Here are a few tried and true ways that can take your communication from good to great.
Get real. Introverts HAVE deeply meaningful professional and personal relationships. Breathe that truth in. You probably have hundreds of connections through your social media and your professional network. Now release the expectation of having deeply meaningful connections with all of them. Prioritizing people doesn’t make you a petty person. A petty person never chooses what and who matters most to them. For now, focus on cultivating 3-5 really quality friendships that support your values and 3-5 really meaningful professional relationships that support your professional goals.) You might be surprised at how much you’ve already done that!
Prioritizing people doesn’t make you a petty person. A petty person never chooses what and who matters most to them.
Connect through positive vulnerability. Maybe it’s a genuine compliment or expression of gratitude - a relatable question, a humorous story of misadventure. During presentations this might be a humorous cartoon, video clip or a 2 minute pair and share. Educational studies (example here) reveal that the human brain learns more when learning is linked to fun. A dash of vulnerability says “Hey, we’re in this together. You can relax.” This relaxes the nervous system of whoever you’re conversing with, actually increasing their listening and learning capacity (as well as your own!)
Get to your WHY fast. Before knowing what you’re sharing, people want to know why it’s important to them. For this reason, context is often more important than content. Those bullet points in my updates? All about what’s in it for you-the reader. When you’re clear on your why, it makes every conversation easier. Most people’s why: the attitude of serve-first. Want to get other professionals to recommend your business? Get curious about how you can help them first. People will reciprocate your generosity and you don’t even have to ask! Want to be super present during a conversation with a friend? That’s serve-first! Communication breaks down when the agenda is less than serve-first.
That silence between what was just said and what is about to be said is a doorway into deeply held beliefs, heart experiences and frankly, juicy content. Really be there for whatever joy or discomfort may come up.
Repeat, mirror, repeat. Repeating the words of the person you’re conversing with helps you monitor your own understanding. It has a transformative impact because so few people are really listened to. To hear their own words repeated back is new and clarifying and deeply gratifying. You got it right when the response is “EXAAACTLY!” Mirroring body language often happens unconsciously when two people have great repore. You may even notice this during virtual meetings! Monitor the quality of connection by noticing breath patterns and body language. If there’s an indicator that their guard went up for some reason, backtrack and repeat to make sure you really understood what they were saying.
Listen. Lean into pauses, especially after heartfelt statements. Keep your focus on who’s speaking, keep your expression neutral, get really still. That silence between what was just said and what is about to be said is a doorway into deeply held beliefs, heart experiences and frankly, juicy content. Really be there for whatever joy or discomfort may come up. Ever heard the saying “You’re just a question away from great content”? Well often we’re just a long pause away from making polite conversation life-changing conversation.
The key to this is understanding their map of the world. That doesn’t mean you have to agree.
Ask. Have you ever had a brief conversation and then weeks later that person specifically follows up about what you shared? It feels so great to know they were that invested even when you thought the conversation wasn’t important. Be that person. The key to this is understanding their map of the world. That doesn’t mean you have to agree.That doesn’t mean you have to feel with them. That just means that you honor how their life experiences led them to their present conclusions about the world. When you bring that to conversations, you might be surprised how heart-felt snippets of what was said stand out to you. Follow up on those. (And yes that follow up is just as genuine when you need to schedule that email or add a note to your google calendar.)
Now go build some nourishing connection! :)