When communicating with others, we have to remember that perception is reality. How we communicate with others and how they perceive us involves more than just our words. How we carry ourselves through our day and amongst others makes a difference. Dale Carnegie once said, “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.”
What We Do
What we do with our time communicates what is important to us and what we value. At least, it should. After all, time is money. While we’re not defined solely by what we do, how we invest our time reflects who we are as people and what we are working towards. What do your actions say about you? Do they align with your life goals and how you want others to view you? If not, now may be a good time to reevaluate.
How We Look
First impressions matter. How we consistently present ourselves also matters. Whether interacting with people in the workplace, in person, or digitally—taking time to get ready for the connection is important. Though we’d like to hope we’re not being judged by our appearance (or judging others), personal grooming matters in most human interactions. Your appearance is not about being good-looking or dressing stylish, but communicating that you respect yourself and the other person by taking the time to put yourself together. If you don’t take yourself seriously, others won’t either.
What We Say
The most basic level of communication is our actual words. What we say is what we say! Whether it’s a business meeting, a conversation with a loved one, or a casual interaction with a stranger, our words allow us to get to know each other and build relationships. Don’t be afraid to express yourself—connection is what life is all about!
How We Say It
What we say matters, but how we say it matters more. When words are loaded with emotion, the message can be drastically mistaken—positively or negatively. People won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. If you’re in a heated conversation, take some time to collect your emotions before you’re hung by your tongue. It’s always better to take time to respond than to spout off words that you can’t take back. On the other hand, if you’re brimming with joy, don’t hold back on that positive emotion. Emotions and energy are contagious, and we should always want to spread joy. If your feelings are positive during a conversation, don’t be afraid of being vulnerable and letting that other person know. You might make that person’s day!