You're A Strong Personality. Here Are Some Tips to Communicate Better With Those Who Aren't
Abrasive, intimidating, rude, harsh, scary - if you have a strong personality you may have heard any or all of these words used to describe you at one time or another. Yet, those words probably don’t describe you at all.
Ah, the bane of a strong personality!
Many milder people will often misunderstand the direct, no nonsense, to the point, bottom line communication style of those with strong personalities. They may even shrink away from their boisterous, opinionated speech, feeling as if they dominate the conversation – and the room. To them, people like this are bigger than life, very in-your-face, sometimes a little intimidating, and possibly at times frustrating.
If you are this type of person you may feel that you are “just being you”. For the record, it's perfectly OK to feel this way. Still, part of life is building relationships that are healthy and mutually gratifying. Consider this - if the people you are talking to are afraid or intimidated by you, how well do you think you'll be able to communicate with one another? More importantly, how open do you think they will be in future conversations?
What is effective communication anyway?
Good communication is not only an exchange of ideas, it is also a practice of certain behaviors. People have responses during conversation that even they are not aware of exhibiting. For example, people with a stronger personality may stand taller, square their shoulders, raise their chin, and other micro movements that unbeknownst to them give the appearance of superiority. If this is you it's important to understand and fully embrace these aspects of yourself, while at the same time considering how you might be able to more effectively communicate with those who are less confrontational, less outspoken, or outright shy.
The key to effective communication is respecting the person you are communicating with and ensuring that they adequately comprehend your message. When you speak you have a responsibility to make sure your message is clear and delivered in a manner that the person receiving it can understand. This may sound like a big responsibility, but with very little practice it’s achievable.
To be a better communicator, try these tips.
- Be aware. Be aware of how you sound to others. Try recording yourself during a phone conversation, and the next day listen to it with a critical ear. When you speak with someone don’t lose yourself in the conversation. Keep your choice of words in mind, especially during a potentially contentious conversation.
- Watch your tone. Many people have a harsh tone and don’t realize it. Understand yours.
- Measure your words. Don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, think about what you are saying and how it might affect the other person.
- Come up for air. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Give others a chance to talk too.
- Speak slower. A strong personality is often characterized by fast speech. Slow down and give the other person time to process.
- Be aware of your body language. Any aggressive stances or gestures you are unknowingly making could be communicating things that you don't intend. Make a conscious effort to take on ones that are more relaxed and neutral.
- Relax. Plain and simple.
- Listen. This is the big one. Listening has the potential to make even the most difficult conversation a conversation with a pleasant ending.