There are plenty of articles and books telling us how we can be better communicators and styles and phrases we should adopt, but after years working across different business types and with a variety of audiences, the one thing I have learned is that no matter how we communicate to others, it’s important to be authentic.
The most successful communicators succeed by developing their own style, not by trying to imitate others. It means being our best, truest self and is just as important in reflecting who we are as what we wear and how we act. Ultimately people need a consistent and authentic view to establish trust, build rapport and cement a relationship; and there’s no better way to do this than by being yourself.
So how can we be a better communicator whilst remaining true to our own unique style? Here are some tips.
Know your style
The first step is to get to know your own personal style. Are you naturally introverted or extroverted? Do you like telling personal stories or are you more private? Are you open with your emotions or a little more reserved? Do you feel comfortable using humour? It’s important to know how you feel comfortable communicating so you can work on your own unique style.
Closely linked with knowing your style is being yourself. It’s impossible to be an authentic communicator and not change your style to fit with the audience. Sincerity will always be apparent and it will be easier to express your thoughts if you’re not worrying about how you think you should be acting or what you think you should be saying. When I began writing, I tried to make my words “sound smart” and professional, using phrases I had heard other people use. This made me sound like a robot and completely stripped my writing of any personality or difference. So know your style and then own it!
If you don’t believe what you are saying, then how can you expect your listener to? You don’t have to be blunt or rude, but to be authentic you need to be speaking your truth. True connection is based on trust and honesty.
Keep it positive
This doesn’t mean you can never talk about anything negative, more that you should aim to speak from a place of positive intention. Whether it’s to your children or your boss, if you come from an angry or defensive starting point, then their response is more likely to be angry or defensive. If you can be as warm and positive as possible then the outcome will be much more constructive.
Authentic communicators hold high opinions of others and give them the benefit of the doubt. Just like you should be authentic, you should let others be themselves and respond in their own style.
Use ‘I’ more
It makes sense that your communications will be much more genuine if you can reference things from your own perspective. If you’re having a difficult conversation, then this can also prevent the other person feeling victimised. Your personal stories/experiences will help build a solid connection and you’ll appear more open and relatable.
Express your emotions
You don’t have to go over the top with oversharing (unless this is your style!), but by demonstrating how you feel, the other person is more likely to respond honestly. Let them know if you are nervous or excited. Humans are emotionally driven, so tap into this and let people see beneath the surface.
That’s it! Own your style, speak your truth and you’ll build genuine connections with people.
Written by Guest Contributor: Charlotte Newton
After 10 years working in the Communications industry and the past three years living in Sydney, Charlotte now lives back in the UK and runs her own freelance brand consultancy 'A life with Lou', specialising in copywriting, brand identity projects and communication strategies.