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Five Principles of Confident Communication

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Posted 18 April 2013 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Assertiveness skills training.

Five principles of confident communication

Are you a confident communicator?
Or do you sometimes say to yourself, "I know what I mean, but I can't explain it?"

Do you sometimes feel nervous when you are expected to express yourself to a group of other people?

If you lack confidence as a communicator, then this lack can have a negative effect on many aspects of your life, both at work and at home.
And if only you could gain more confidence as a communicator, then that gain would have a positive effect on many aspects of your life both at work and at home.

So the question on your mind is this: how can I gain confidence as a communicator.

Let us answer that question.

The first thing to say about gaining confidence is this;

Confidence comes from competence!
Confidence comes from knowing what you are doing.

If you don't know what you are doing, then how can you feel confident?
If you do know exactly what you are doing and you know how to do it, then you are bound to feel more confident.

So, the first thing to say about confidence in communication is this:

Assert your opinion only on the basis of knowledge.

Putting the same point the other way: Don't talk about things you don't know about.
Putting the same point in many different ways:

  1. If you don't know much about the subject, then don't act as if you do.
  2. Don't be afraid to say, ""I don't know enough about that to form a valid opinion"".
  3. Don't guess, or fabricate.
  4. Listen more than you speak.
  5. Talk about things that you know.
  6. Draw on your own experience and knowledge and be firm when you think you have sufficient evidence to justify your view.
  7. Ask people the following question: "how do you know?"

For example: if the person says something like, "The government is in league with big business", then don't feel obliged to argue, simply rely on asking this great question: "How do you know?"

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Before you speak, or write anything, be sure that you could, if challenged, answer the same question, "How do you know?"

Second principle of confident communication. Use language that is as clear, specific and precise as you can make it.

Putting the same point the other way: Don't use vague, ambiguous and generalised language.
Remember the phrase: Clarity is a virtue; vagueness is a vice.
The purpose of communication is to accurately transfer information, ideas and emotions from one mind to another.
And the more accurately that is done the better is the communication.

Therefore, it is important to use accurate, specific, precise language as you can find, rather than allow yourself the use of inaccurate, unspecific, or imprecise language.
For example: look at the following pairs of statements. Both express the same thought or event, but one is more specific than the other.

Question: which one of each pair is the more specific and therefore, according to this theory, is the better option:

  • The car went by me really fast.
  • The car went by me at about 70 or 80 mph.
  • Steve showed a lack of respect in the meeting yesterday.
  • Steve ate all the biscuits in the meeting yesterday and in addition he left crumbs all over the table.
  • I am worried that I will mess up my speech to the conference.
  • I am worried that I will not remember all my speech to the conference or that someone will ask me a question that I can't answer.

You can see that the second option in each case is the more specific and is therefore, according to this theory, the better option.

Therefore, in order to be more confident, strive to use language that is as clear, specific and precise as you can make it.

Third principle of confident communication.

Reinforce your message with good body language.

To a very large degree you communicate your levels of confidence, not through what you say, but rather, from how you look, as you are saying it. It is your appearance, your mannerisms and your body posture that indicates to others your emotional state.
Remember this: nobody can mind read.
Nobody can tell what you are thinking and feeling unless you tell them or show them.

  • You tell them how you feel with your words.
  • You show them how you feel with your body language.

And as you can control your language, you can control, if you choose to, your body language.

Here are some specific tips on body language that will help you to project an air of confidence:

  • Stand or sit up straight. Don't slouch.
  • Look at people in the eye. Don't evade eye contact.
  • Dress according to the context. Don't let your appearance label you as a loser.
  • Use hand and gestures to give visual reinforcement to your spoken message. Animate yourself.
  • But never point at anyone. Use an open handed, palms down, below the eye line hand gesture, to emphasise key points.

Fourth principle of confident communication

Reinforce your message with good voice tone.

To a very large degree you communicate your levels of confidence, not through what you say, but how you say it; in terms of your voice tone. It is your voice tones; meaning your voice pitch, voice volume, voice intonation and rhythm that indicates to others your emotional state.

Nobody can mind read.
Nobody can tell what you are feeling unless you tell them or show them.
You tell them how you feel with words.
You show them how you feel with your voice tones.
And as you can control your language, you can control, if you choose to, your voice tones.

Here are some specific tips on voice tone that will help you to project an air of confidence:* Slow down your pace of delivery: don't rush. Don't speed through your points.

  • Use the lower deeper part of your voice tones. Don't use a squeaky, high pitched voice tone.
  • Vary your voice tones, don't be monotone.

Don't feel that you have to fill every moment of time with speech. Don't be afraid of silence. Be comfortable with silences.
Periodic silences are good because silence allows people time to mentally digest what they have already heard.

Fifth principle of confident communication

Give yourself mental encouragement.
Putting the same point the other way: Don't destroy your own confidence by negative self-talk.
Talk yourself up.
Don't talk yourself down.
Everyone talks to themselves.

In your head you have a continuous flow of thoughts, in the form of language, an inner voice; that forms part of your inner world. Some people use that inner voice to give themselves courage and confidence.

Others use that inner voice to decimate the courage and devastate their confidence.

  • Some people say to themselves, a thousand times a day: "I am the greatest!"
  • Other people say to themselves, a thousand times a day: "I am not good enough"
  • Some people say to themselves, "I know I can do it. I just need to find the right method"
  • Other people say to themselves, a thousand times a day: "I know I can't do it. So why even try?"

If you lack confidence as a communicator, I would wager that you are guilty of this error.

The error of talking yourself down with negative self-talk.
You are saying the wrong things to yourself. And you do it too often, for too long.
It is time to stop talking yourself down and time to start talking yourself up.

Confidence is an emotion and all emotions are the product of thought.

If you think you are not good enough, then you cannot feel confident.
If you think you are more than good enough, then you cannot, not feel confident!
So, work on yourself talk skills!

Here is a summary of the five principles of confident communication, given in order of importance:

  1. Give yourself mental encouragement. Talk yourself up.
  2. Assert your opinion only on the basis of knowledge.
  3. Use language that is as clear, specific and precise as you can make it.
  4. Reinforce your message with good body language.
  5. Reinforce your message with good voice tones.

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