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Improving Communication Skills: Self-Disclosure, Listening & Non-Verbal Communication

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  • 0:01 Improving Communication Skills
  • 0:30 Self-Disclosure
  • 1:08 The Art of Listening
  • 2:54 Nonverbal Communication
  • 4:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Self-disclosure, listening, and nonverbal communication are three important conversation strategies people use. This lesson will discuss what they are, how they may be interpreted, and some tips for improving them.

Improving Communication Skills

'You're not listening to me! You never share your feelings! Did you just roll your eyes at me? Oh no you didn't!'

I'm not sure if those are things kids, men, or women utter more than the others. Maybe it depends on the situation. What I am sure of is that listening, self-disclosure, and nonverbal communication are things many of us can work on to improve our communication skills.

Self-Disclosure

Self-disclosure is the voluntary sharing of information to another person that helps them understand who you are. There's plenty of stuff a person can disclose to someone else to increase intimacy in their relationship or reduce some uncertainty. Let's see what things can be disclosed:

  • Hopes, fears, doubts, and goals
  • Religious beliefs, economic status, political beliefs
  • Views about current relationships or a job
  • Feelings about a particular group of people, like shared classmates

If you want to build a stronger relationship with someone, consider disclosing a few things about yourself.

The Art of Listening

When one person discloses such information, it's equally important the other individual listens and listens well! Effective listening involves actively listening to and understanding the words and feelings of a person. Effective listening is significant because it:

  • Saves time: That's because if you listen well, you're less likely to misunderstand someone.
  • Creates a safe environment for everyone to express themselves.
  • Releases negative energy: Think back to a time when you believed you were truly being listened to and then to a time when you had to yell out in exasperation, 'You're not listening to me!' How did the first scenario make you feel compared to the second one? Likely, you were much calmer and didn't feel as angry when you truly got heard.

Effective listening is also significant because it makes the other person feel understood, which builds stronger relationships. A good listener will focus solely on the speaker. This means no texting, no drawing on your notebook, and no daydreaming. If someone is staring out into space like a zombie, everyone can tell and that makes nobody very happy.

Another trait of an effective listener is showing interest. Don't sit there in silence. Small verbal cues, like 'uh huh,' can be used to show that speaker you are truly listening and engaged. But don't go overboard: avoid interrupting. Particularly, avoid interrupting the speaker in order to shift gears to your personal concerns. That's very rude, to say the least. Finally, don't be judgmental. Withhold criticism so you can really understand where the person is coming from and so you don't offend them.

Nonverbal Communication

Actually, one of the traits of an effective listener I shared with you, showing interest, has another component I held off on disclosing. It is the use of nonverbal communication. It's exactly what it sounds like: body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and gestures. People who show interest to a speaker can do so without even saying anything, like 'uh huh' or 'yes.' They can nod, smile, and simply make eye contact.

Nonverbal communication is quite indicative of many things. Take, for example, facial expressions. A face that turns red can instantly indicate embarrassment without you saying a word. Crinkling of a nose may signal that you don't like something.

Eye contact is also critical. Eyes that shift away from a person may mean you're being dishonest. But staring at someone for too long, more than five to seven seconds, may make someone feel a bit uncomfortable, as if they're being scrutinized. So, try to aim for the golden middle.

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