-I want you to come to Tahrir Square, at KFC. KFC,KFC! TAHRIR SQUARE! Leaves the phone and turns to me. Uff Vasilis! I cannot stand this! Nobody understands English here!
-Give me the phone and let me try. She hands me the phone. I pick up. Hello! We are in K-F-C! In T-A-H-R-I-R! Ok Shukran! I turn to her. Yeah he will be here in five minutes.
After that, she kept on asking me how I could understand and communicate and I lectured her on effective communication in international environments. And this happened this summer in Egypt as me and my friend were trying to get a taxi to take us sightseeing. What is the point in that?
Always vocalize and speak clearly when talking to someone. The clearer the better. Especially in international environments were accents vary and people might not know English so well. Try loud and clear. If you want to practice in your home, in order to vocalize better and speak clearer, try putting a pen in your mouth, bite it and speak whole sentences or read a text loudly. It’s an old exercise used in acting for clearer speaking. After speaking, what?
Be an active listener! Try to not focus on what you are going to say next and focus on what the other person is saying. Listen and understand. Ask questions and clarifications to fully engage in the topic. This shows you are interested and gives the person talking a sense of satisfaction. Try and put yourself in his shoes and share your view on the topic mentioned. And when the voice is done, what comes next?
3.Using body language
When communicating, using only your voice is half the process. The body plays a very important part too. Your eyes show your focus and your feelings about the discussion. Try to look the speaker in the eyes and keep them wide open if you want to show interest. Your face expressions can tell a lot about your feelings on the topic too, but a great addition to your speaking are your hands. Use them to help you express yourself better (but of course, don’t overuse them). Your posture should be set accordingly too and your tone of voice must be regulated. So what about the extras, then?
Effective communication is mainly about understanding the other person and not forcing an opinion or winning an argument. You should have a stable tone and express your ideas neutrally, but clearly, simply and directly. Be confident about them and yourself, honest and open about every matter set for discussion. Understand that it is not a debate but a space to exchange ideas, thoughts, needs and feelings. And the top of the iceberg?
Let’s face it! Nowadays more and more people use their devices to communicate with people or simply go out with friends and keep checking on their phones. We have to be mindful that face-to-face communication is the strongest and cannot be replaced with anything. You need to be visible in the conversation, always physically present and create meaningful connections. This helps you gain trust.
As life becomes simpler for us to communicate with people and express ideas, people are becoming more and more unable to communicate effectively. I can’t help but wonder: Is communication becoming harder to deal with or are we becoming lazier as humans to communicate in a more meaningful way?
If you want to get challenged in communication and get a chance to develop yourself in it, try an international environment in aiesec.org, through one of our opportunities.