When saying something important, make a speech, wanting to convince someone or to make a point, here are some basics to remember.
AS A SPEAKER:
1. Don't use distracting words such as, "you know", "ah well", "ah", "basically", "really", "generally", "um". Practice not repeating them. If you have to, don’t say anything. Leave a blank space for the word. In time it will improve. Ask your friends to give you feedback about your speaking style or listen to a tape of your speech.
2. Don't repeat yourself.
3. Don't frown, sneer, cry, glare, and use mocking laughter, nervous laughter, have an angry face, or show disgust.
4. You can start a conversation with another person or a small group by saying anything at all. It is always safe to ask the other person to talk about himself. You may, however, run the risk of not getting to talk about yourself.
5. Keep your voice positive: caring, warm, soft, tender, empathetic, concerned, affectionate, loving, buoyant, bubbly, cheerful, chuckling, happy, joyful, and laughing.
6. Don't sound cold, tense, afraid, impatient, hard, clipped, staccato, whining, blaming, sarcastic, angry, furious, blaring, hurt, depressed, or accusing. Don’t use a nasal voice.
7. Don't speak loudly. It shows your emotions are involved. Most people can handle it if you’re happy or excited in a positive way, but if it’s a negative emotion it turns people off. If you or the other person is under stress, or emotionally upset, lowering your voice will quiet and calm everyone down. Don’t speak unclearly or unsurely, or threateningly. Think before you speak.
8. Don’t use profanity. Some things might seem acceptable, but safe is better than sorry and you can turn someone off with just one inappropriate or disrespectable word.
AS A LISTENER:
1. Decide to listen. Don’t be distracted by stress, or outside thoughts. We speak at 200 words/minute and think at 800 words/minute. Use the time to really understand the speaker.
2. Show love by giving undivided attention to the speaker. Don’t repeat yourself.
3. With a friend, you listen even when the person under stress repeats himself.
4. Show you're listening by making comments. Respond to the thought by saying "I understand", or "I don’t understand".
5. Practice mirroring by matching the other person’s body language - position, tone of voice, expression, rate of speaking. It gives the impression that you're listening intently.
© LifeSkills International 2015
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