Yes, we all know how to talk and some, better than others. Talking is all well and good, but how do you know that you’ve actually communicated your message effectively to other people? This article explains communication, tone, modulation, and body language.
What you’ll learn:
- How to interpret differences in tone
- Build an understanding of how people modulate their language
- What you can learn from a person’s body language
During this article, we’re going to look at how to use your voice, tone, and modulation correctly. Interpreting different language styles and deciphering body language.
Effective communication is all about conveying your messages to other people clearly. It’s also about receiving information that others are sending to you with as little distortion as possible.
Doing this involved effort from both the sender of the message and the receiver. And it’s the process that can be easily done wrong with the messages muddled by the sender or misinterpreted by the receiver.
When this isn’t detected, it can cause tremendous confusion, wasted effort, and missed opportunity.
Communication is a two-way process. It only occurs once the message has been received. And once the receiver has the message, they then provide feedback to the sender. By receiving feedback, the level of understanding of the message can be assessed.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood. – Stephen Covey
This gives the responsibility on the listener to understand the message, before trying to make themselves understood.
The sender of the message, whether in written or verbal form, has an intention behind the message. And effectively encodes it and sends it via a channel. This could be email, phone, face-to-face, etc.
The receiver then decodes the message. Communication is only effective if the decoding is the same as what has been encoded. That’s what makes written communication so hard to get right.
The receiver gives feedback, which helps the sender of the message determine if the receiver has understood the message.
The context or settings surrounding the message also has an impact. So does any relative noise around the messages, such as prejudices, the current state of mind, etc. If this doesn’t work well, you can get in a real muddle.
Voice projection focuses on the ability to be heard. Sometimes we may hear that someone is speaking, but not hear the words. We might experience them speaking too softly. Voice projection is concerned with speaking loud enough to be heard.
Articulation is focused on the clarity, quality, and sharpness of the speech. You may be speaking loud enough, but you may not be clearly enunciating your words. Speaking articulately means that your words are crisp and clear.
Modulation is the varying pitch and volume of the voice. It helps to create an interesting sound for the listener.
Monotone refers to someone speaking at the same volume and pitch constantly, without any real detection of variance. This can be off-putting to the listener.
It’s not what you say, but the way that you say it. Disinterest or indifference is the easiest way to ruin good communication.
Just because you said something, it doesn’t mean the other person understood it. Communication is not just sending an email, writing a letter, or even talking with someone. Unless the other person has understood the way you intended, there hasn’t been a true exchange of understanding. Talking, listening, and questioning, are all tools of communication, but true communication is an exchange of understanding.
Questions to discuss
- Why is communication best described as an ‘Exchange of Understanding’?
- What can you do to ensure you are engaged in good communication in your role?
It’s quite easy to miss subtle messages in the way someone positions their body, uses their hands, moves their eyes, or alters their tone of voice. Learning these things can make a huge virtually instant improvement in your business communication skills and career potential.
To be effective in your communication and to gain a better understanding of people around you, start to observe and practice some of the following areas of body language.
Eye contact is one of the most important aspects of dealing with others, especially when we’ve just met them. Maintaining good eye contact shows respect and interest in what they have to say.
Don’t stare, though.
By maintaining good eye contact, you won’t make the other people feel self-conscious, but comfortable and interested.
Posture is the next thing to master. Get your posture right and you’ll automatically start feeling better, as it makes you feel good almost instantly.
Next time you notice you’re feeling a bit down, take a look at how you’re sitting or standing. Chances are, you’ll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward. This collapses the chest and inhibits good breathing, which, in turn, can help make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.
Head position is a great one to play around with yourself and others. When you want to feel confident and self-assured, Keep your head level both horizontally and vertically. You can also use the straight head position when you want to be authoritative and have what you say taken seriously.
Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other. You can shift the tilt from left to right at different points in the conversation.
Arm give away the clues as to how open or receptive you are to everyone we meet and interact with. So keep your arms out to the side of your body or behind your back.
Legs are the furthest point away from the brain. Consequently, they’re the hardest bits of our bodies to control consciously. They tend to move around a lot, more than normal when we’re nervous, stressed or being deceptive.
So best to keep them as still as possible in most situations, especially in interviews or work meetings.
Palms slightly up and outward are seen as open and friendly. Palm down gestures are generally seen as dominant, emphasizing, and possibly aggressive. Especially when there is no movement or bending between the wrist and the forearm.
When it comes to handshaking, and where appropriate, we suggest you always offer a handshake, upright and vertical, which should convey equality.
Distance from others is crucial if you want to give off the right signals. Stand too close and you’re marked as pushy or in your face. Stand or sit too far away and you’ll be keeping your distance or stand-offish. Neither is what we want. So observe if in a group situation, how close all the other people are to each other.
Also, notice if you move closer to someone and they back away, you’re probably just a bit too much in their personal space or their comfort zone. You’ve overstepped the mark and should pull back a little.
Mouth movements can give away all sorts of clues. We purse our lips and sometimes twist them to the side when we’re thinking. On another occasion, we might use this movement to hold back an angry comment we don’t wish to reveal. Nevertheless, it will probably be spotted by other people. And although they may not comment, they will get a feeling you’re not pleased.
There are also different types of smiles and each gives off a corresponding feeling to its recipient.
Questions to discuss
- Why is it important to notice someone’s body language while communicating with them?
- Write down some examples of previous interactions where you have noticed the person’s body language. What did it mean to you?
People are being constantly presented with situations where effective communication skills are needed.
Relationships, both personal or those with your co-workers will affect how each person chooses to behave and communicate. Styles of communication are learned behaviors that can be grouped into categories of assertiveness, aggressiveness, and passiveness.
How you are feeling affects how you behave. You need to be aware of how your behavioral style can affect the way you communicate with others.
So first of all, we need to gain some sort of understanding of the particular types of behaviors and communication styles. This knowledge will aid in understanding the types of responses and skills that are required in effectively dealing with them.
You need to be aware that your behavioral style can affect how you communicate with the customer. Behavioral styles are also likely to differ, depending on the circumstances we are in. For example, we may act differently when relaxed, compared to being at work or in a social setting.
If we’re feeling aggressive, we may come across too dominant to the other person.
If we’re feeling too passive, we may just not care what happens in the conversion as long as the other person is happy.
If we’re assertive, however, we help to get a win-win situation for everybody.
There are three points here for you to consider: communication, tone of voice, and body language.
- What two things will you do differently to improve your communication with others:
- What will you do to ensure your tone of voice supports what message you want to get across:
- What are three things you will do in regards to body language that will help improve your communication with others:
Here’s a quick recap. In this article, we covered how to use our voice, tone, and modulation, how to use body language and a quick look at language styles.