Welcome to another Tuesday episode! Today, I want to talk about what it means to be an effective communicator in English.
Do you find it a bit tricky to keep conversations going smoothly in English? Do you ever wish you could always sound engaging, interesting, and make people WANT to talk to you?
Communication is essential, I mean, after all, that’s why we’re learning English. Yet, communication doesn’t always come naturally. Believe me – I know. I’ve had my fair share of awkward conversations and moments when I wish I could just disappear rather than continue speaking.
Becoming a better communicator is something that takes practice, but the good news is, it’s possible! In this video, I’ll walk you through three strategies I love that will help you become a better communicator, and it might not be what you would expect.
So, let’s go ahead and get started!
Want to learn how you can become a better communicator in English without learning new words, without learning grammar, and without practicing your pronunciation? The secret is in becoming a better listener. Being a better listener turns you into a better conversation partner, a better communicator, because it helps you build relationships and build trust as well.
But also, when you focus on the other person, you become less stressed and self conscious about your own English. And that alone can help you become more confident and fluent in English. In this video, I’m going to share with you some tips on how to become a better listener and a better communicator in English.
If you’re new to my channel, then hi, my name is Hadar. I’m a non native speaker of English. And I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom. You can check out my website at hadarshemesh.com. for a lot of free resources and hundreds of lessons about pronunciation, confidence, fluency, and so much more. And you can also follow me on social media for daily tips.
There’s a big difference between hearing someone and truly listening to someone. And there’s also a difference between listening to someone and making them feel like you’re listening to them. Now, this is relevant when you communicate in any language, including your first language as well. Because being a good listener is also relevant for your first language.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of times when you communicate in a second language, what happens is that you are more self-conscious about your own language and your own communication. And as a result, it affects how you show up in a conversation. And it affects how you actually listen to other people.
So, while in this video I’m going to share with you some general active listening tips, this is very specific for speakers of English as a second language, because I’m going to also focus on the language and the confidence element and what you can do if speaking in English is not something that is completely natural to you.
So, what I’m going to talk about today is going to be about mindset, nonverbal communication, and verbal communication. We’re going to start with mindset. When you are speaking to another person, you actually have to turn off your own thoughts and focus on what the other person is saying. Now, it’s okay, like it’s very natural for you to think about other things when you’re doing something else, but when you are consumed with your own thoughts, it’s really hard to actually listen and to be able to have a good, deep conversation with a person in front of you.
Also, usually people feel it when you’re not really listening. You know, you start glazing or you’re starting to tune out from the conversation. I’m sure you’ve had this experience when you’re talking and you felt like the other person is not really with you. Because they were occupied with their own thoughts. So, you have to actually move away from thinking your own thoughts to paying attention to what the other person is saying.
Now, especially when speaking a second language, a lot of times when we’re in a conversation, we are so focused on our thoughts about the language: “Am I going to understand them?” “How am I going to respond?” “What if I make a mistake?” “What should I say in response?” “What if they ask me a question?” So we have all these thoughts about fluency and about our English and our English not being good enough, and the judgment that we might experience.
And then you’re caught up in your thoughts, you’re thinking about it because you want to make the conversation better. But what ends up happening is that the fact that you’re thinking these thoughts move you away from actually being in the conversation. So when you have all this negative self talk, not only that it will affect your fluency and freedom, it will also prevent you from actually hearing and understanding what the other person is saying.
Because you’re so focused on your own thoughts that you’re not listening, and then you won’t be able to understand what they’re saying. And when it’s time for you to talk, it’s going to be really hard for you to respond properly. And then you’re going to become even more self conscious about it, and it’s like a snowball.
So, moving away from putting the focus on you and your own language, focusing on what the other person is saying will allow you to respond naturally when it’s time for you to speak, but also you’re not going to force your brain to come up with an answer. Because you know how it is – when you’re trying to forcefully think about a word or about something – you black out, like you can’t think of anything. And when it happens naturally in a conversation, you’re much more likely to have something to talk about or to respond in a natural way.
My second tip for becoming a better listener and to develop active listening – and remember, it’s a skill, you can practice it, you can develop it – is nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is everything that is not about the words that come out of your mouth. It’s the way you look, it’s the way you perceive their nonverbal communication. It’s how you use your body, how you use your eyes.
So when you are listening, then you want to make sure that you look at the person, you can look them in the eyes, you can look at their face, maybe their mouth, if you don’t feel comfortable looking them in the eye. You want to make sure that you’re open, you’re not fidgeting, you’re not too closed, and that you’re just open to hearing what they have to say. I find myself… I’m very much an active listener, and I find that I nod a lot of times.
Sometimes I also mirror what they do. I do it subconsciously, but I started noticing that this is what I do. So, if I see someone speaking and nodding their head, I might do the same thing, you know, I kind of like mirror how they’re behaving. And I try to get us on the same frequency in terms of body language. And I feel like it helps me hear better and understand better what the other person is saying.
Now, when you are actively listening, a lot of times you can use small phrases that will create validation that you’re listening, or will open opportunities for them to speak more. So for example, when someone is speaking, you could just respond with: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I know. Really? Totally.
So these phrases show that you are listening, that you’re paying attention. And sometimes you can also invite them to speak more. Something that I like to say a lot when I’m interested in someone else or their story, or I want to hear more about something, I simply say, “Tell me more about this”, or “That’s so interesting, I want to hear more”. And that gets them to speak better.
Now, when they feel safe, when they feel like you’re actually listening, they would want to speak more and feel that you are such a great conversation partner. And that it’s so much fun to actually talk to you. And you will feel more comfortable. So when it’s time for you to talk, you won’t feel stressed or judged because the atmosphere is going to be positive and you will feel the connection between the two of you.
Now, one last thing about verbal communication: what I usually do when I hear someone speaking is that while they’re speaking, I am thinking about the questions that I can ask them. I want to ask them follow up questions. I want them to speak more. So when they are done telling me something, I usually try to think of a really good question to ask them, and then just to be quiet and hear what they have to say.
And also in general, listening to someone and thinking about questions and asking them questions is an excellent English practice. Because it helps you kind of go deeper into the language and to think about things in a critical way, which is definitely something that we want to develop as speakers of English as a second language.
All right. So to wrap up, if you want to develop your active listening, first, you have to be in the mindset of a good listener. You have to focus on what they are saying and not on your own thoughts or fears or concerns.
Then you want to use nonverbal communication to show the other person that you’re actually listening and paying attention. And you want to be attentive to how they are feeling and what they are expressing.
And the third thing: you want to use language or verbal responses to show them that you’re actually paying attention, like: Yeah. I know. Totally. Oh, I see. Mm-hmm; and all of that. And also, it’s a great skill to have to be able to listen to someone and to ask a follow up question so that it would get them to speak more, but also it will develop your critical thinking and your ability to analyze content.
All right. If you have any more tips on how to become a better listener, write them in the comments below. And tell me if you have any challenges with staying focused when speaking to someone in English. All right, if you enjoyed this video, make sure to subscribe to my channel and come follow me on Instagram at @hadar.accentsway, where I share daily content.
Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day. And I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.