From job interviews to hanging out with friends, good social skills will make your life easier. As an effective communicator, you’ll be able to navigate tricky negotiations, build trust with the people around you, and get the most out of every conversation.
Who Is Robin Roberts?
Nobody knows how important it is to be a good communicator more than world-class television broadcaster Robin Roberts. Robin has been a Good Morning America anchor for more than a decade. Before that, she was the first black, female anchor on ESPN’s flagship program, SportsCenter. She’s interviewed President Barack Obama, reported on the ground in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina, and spoken publicly about her breast cancer and Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Robin’s work has taught her a lot about effective communication skills.
Robin Roberts’s 4 Tips for Effective Communication
Whether you’re trying to negotiate with a coworker or resolve a conflict at home, good communication skills are key to working with other people. Here are some communication tips straight from Robin Roberts:
- Practice active listening. The secret to better communication ultimately boils down to one thing: listening skills. But it’s not just any listening—it’s “active listening,” which means showing the person who’s talking to you that you are listening to them, thinking about what they are saying, understanding their point of view, and responding accordingly. To be an active listener, you need to take a genuine interest in what they’re saying and their overall well-being. Whether or not you’re a journalist, you need to have a deep, genuine curiosity about other people.
- Be authentic. As a journalist, Robin was taught not to insert herself into the stories she’s reporting. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit her hometown in Mississippi, and ABC flew Robin down to the area to cover the story. While the producers set up the shoot, Robin rushed to find her family to make sure they were okay. Luckily, she found them safe and sound. Shortly after, on the air, another ABC anchor asked Robin if she’d been able to find her family. Unable to stop herself, Robin started to cry. Her immediate concern was that she had lost her job for letting her raw emotions take over on live TV. “Just the opposite happened,” she says today. “I was being authentic. I was being in the moment. I was speaking from the heart. People sensed that, rallied around me, and adopted my hometown, which was decimated.” People thanked her for being real. For effective communication, listeners want you to be authentic and true to yourself—and they’ll be able to tell if you’re not.
- Use conversational cues. To help another person feel listened to, Robin says, show that you care. One great way to show them that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say is through an interpersonal skill called “conversational cues.” While someone else is talking, feel free to sprinkle in a few short responses (things like “uh huh,” “I see,” “important point,” and “fascinating, go on”) to show them that you’re engaged and listening. Not only is this a great way to move a conversation forward, it can help build self-esteem for shy or uncomfortable speakers and coax them into engaging with you.
- Be aware of your body language. A vital part of that authenticity in face-to-face interactions are your nonverbal communication skills, or body language. Make eye contact when you’re talking to someone. Use facial expressions and hand gestures to show you’re listening. Lean forward in your seat to show you’re engaged in the conversation. Nod as they’re talking to you, and angle your body toward them to exhibit they’re holding your full attention. Don’t look at your watch or jiggle your legs—that’s enough to make anyone self-conscious. Show that person they have your undivided attention with nonverbal cues, and they’ll be much happier talking to you.
Learn more about effective and authentic communication from Emmy-winning “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts. Communicate effectively, embrace vulnerability, and live life with optimism with the MasterClass Annual Membership.