In the last few weeks I have been thinking about first impressions. I know that when I meet people in-person that I am sometimes very quiet. It’s not because I am shy or that I don’t want to meet them, but it is because I am processing the experience. I am listening. I am trying to figure out who they are. I think people mistake this as unfriendliness (or so I have been told by my trusted advisors). I think part of it is because most people start talking when they meet someone and when someone sits back and listens it is surprising.
In either case, I realize that I need to make people feel more comfortable when they first meet me while still listening to what they have to say. This type of behavior is as important online as it is face-to-face. I have been observing a lot of people interacting via online social channels and have noticed that people don’t pay attention to their own style. Whether you are communicating online or face-to-face, it is even more critical to think not about WHAT you are saying, but HOW you are saying it.
So, for my own benefit, I have started asking myself the following to help me improve my own communication style. I hope that you find these beneficial.
- Am I smiling when I meet them?
- Am I making good eye contact?
- Am I disagreeing or arguing? Debate can be healthy, but avoid personal attacks.
- Do you have I have my facts correct?
- Am I feeling emotional when writing? If so, I step away and post my comment when you are calmer.
- How well do I know the person that you are communicating with? I need to consider that they might be having a bad day and figure out if you I help them before making a negative comment.
- How can I help them? Not how can they help me.
This is my own personal list for self-improvement. I would love to hear your suggestions and stories.