Communication skills are among the most important life skills. Effective communication skills can improve your outcomes at work, home, and in your social life. The greatest advantage humans have is the ability to communicate clearly and precisely.
Like many other important topics, communication skills aren’t taught in school. You must teach yourself. Fortunately, there are many online courses, books, and seminars that focus on building communication skills. Focus on the basics and you’ll be a step ahead of most others.
Communicate clearly and effectively with these strategies:
1. Listening is the most important communication skill. When you’re communicating with others, you’ll most likely spend half of your time listening. Others wish to be heard and find it annoying if you’re only waiting until it’s your turn to talk again. You learn more while listening than you do while speaking. Take listening seriously.
2. Communicate with confidence. You’ll be viewed as more believable and competent if you appear confident. Speak slowly, clearly, and with conviction.
3. Consider the non-verbal communication signals you’re sending. Ensure that your non-verbal communication is appropriate and confident. Maintain eye contact, stand tall, and use gestures that match the situation. You can convey authority, openness, or any level of formality through your body language.
4. Choose the best communication medium for the circumstance. You can communicate face-to-face, on the phone, via email, and so on. Depending on the matter at hand, one method of communication might be more appropriate than another.
Choosing poorly can be viewed as disrespectful. For example, breaking up with your girlfriend via text message is questionable.
5. It’s important to communicate clearly. The whole point of communication is to receive and provide information. If you’re not clear, you’re failing to communicate effectively. Ensure that the other person understands what you’re intending to convey.
6. Be concise. Unless you’re chatting with a good friend, most people have something they’d rather do than listen to you. Avoid rambling and stay on topic. You’ll lose the other person’s attention if you fail to be concise.
Get to the point quickly. It’s obvious when you’re beating around the bush and stalling.
7. Think before you speak. When you speak too soon, you say things you don’t mean. Take the time to gather your thoughts. Consider how your words will be interpreted. Could you say it a better way? It’s easier to avoid misunderstandings than it is to fix them. Think before you open your mouth.
8. Drop the fillers. Many of us have the bad habit of using filler words like “um” and “ah” when we’re thinking. Try being silent instead. Those that use filler words are viewed as less competent. You’ll have less ability to influence others. It’s also annoying when filler words are used excessively.
This can be a very challenging habit to break. You’ll have to monitor yourself closely for several weeks to see significant progress.
9. Give your full attention. Put your full focus on the other person. Put your phone away and avoid scanning the room to see what else is going on. Give the other person and the conversation the attention they deserve.
10. Have a purpose in mind. What are you trying to communicate? What is the outcome you seek? Know what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll be successful more frequently.
The English language has roughly one million words, yet we still struggle to communicate effectively with others. Unfortunately, miscommunication has the potential to be damaging to both your career and personal relationships. Give your communication skills the attention they require. You’ll be glad you did!