Our communication styles are as different as our personalities, and the way you communicate with people has a huge impact on their opinion of you. Positive communication skills make you seem friendly, smart and helpful. In contrast, negative communication skills makes you come across as rude and uninterested. In most cases, communication consists of verbal communication and body language.
Positive Verbal Communication
Positive verbal communication skills help you connect with people. Speak clearly and directly to others, rather than through mumbling. They speak loudly enough to be heard, but not so loud that they seem arrogant. Positive communicators ask about others rather than focusing on themselves; use humor when appropriate and respond appropriately to others.
Positive Body Language
Subtle body language can make a big difference in how you perceive someone. Positive body language makes a person seem interested and engaged in conversation. Examples of positive body language include standing up straight, making eye contact with peers, and nodding occasionally to show attentiveness.
Negative Verbal Communication
A person with negative verbal communication skills is not pleasant to have a conversation with. They may speak too loudly or too softly, and not pay attention to the other person. The content of their conversation may be selfish, pretentious or dishonest. People with negative verbal communication skills are not good listeners and may be impatient or interrupt others during conversation.
Negative Body Language
Likewise, people can make poor impressions on others by displaying negative body language. This includes failing to make eye contact, slouching, crossing your arms or shifting during conversation. Physical nervous ticks, such as cracking your knuckles or picking at your nails, make you seem disinterested in the conversation. Some physical behaviors, such as looking around or checking your watch during conversation, are downright rude.
The Importance of Positive Communication Skills
In professional and personal situations, people form lasting ideas about you based on their first impressions of your communication skills. If you first come across as someone who's warm and interesting to engage with, people will remember you in a positive light. If you seem bored by an initial conversation, it's unlikely that they'll want to talk to you again.
Camille Beredjick is a recent graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University working in the nonprofit sector. She is the sole writer and manager of GayWrites, an LGBT news blog.