8 Easy Ways To Improve Communication Skills
In whichever walk of life you are, it is your communication skills that you have to rely on to not only get your message across but also get your work done. It is the ability that distinguishes in many ways, the levels of success that human beings experience. It is not only necessary to say what you have to, but equally important to figure whether the opposite person has understood what you said in the manner that you wanted him to.
Needless to say, even in the professional world, it is this ability that sets certain candidates apart. If you want to improve your communication skills, you need to keep the following few simple things in mind and ensure that you are constantly doing it. After all, effective communication is about keeping patient, not giving in to your nature and letting go of what is appropriate.
1. Talk To The Point
2. Keep Your Tone Friendly And Be Approachable
3. Maintain Eye Contact
4. Focus On Nonverbal Communication
5. Don’t Depend On Presentations Alone
6. Listen too
7. Respond Carefully
8. Treat People Equally
9. Improve Communication: FAQs
Talk To The Point
You have to be clear and precise. Ensure you say what you have to in simple terms. The best way to improve communication is to stay away from fancy language that creates confusion. An important step in this process is also to understand who you are talking to and whether the person is able to grasp what you are saying. Talk to the person from his/her perspective.
- At work, talk to the point, do not beat around the bush.
- Do not waste too much time on pleasantries if you are nervous. Get to the point soon.
- Healthy discussions are always welcome, shouting is not.
- To communicate more confidently, work on your posture. Avoid slouching, folding your arms or making yourself appear smaller than you are.
- When talking to a group, ensure you are addressing all members, not just one person.
TIP: Prepare for your meetings in advance; jot points on what you want to say.
Keep Your Tone Friendly And Be Approachable
Many mid-level and senior level professionals come across as unapproachable to their subordinates. You should not forget that talking to your colleagues to troubleshoot is also part of your job.
- Maintain a friendly and healthy atmosphere around.
- Have a cheerful attitude towards the task at hand and opt for small chunks at a time.
- Be friendly and talk in a soft and understandable tone.
TIP: Think of how far you have come when you need a little motivation to smile.
Maintain Eye Contact
We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping eye contact. It keeps the person engaged. When the other person does not meet your eyes, what do you feel? Two things: either the person is making the stuff up or is unprepared and nervous. Few people will offer any benefit of the doubt. This is also a way to relay that you are interested in what the other person is saying.
- When talking to the team, make sure you look at everyone, so each person feels included.
- Avoid looking at the walls or ceiling (or here and there) when talking to anyone. You have no idea how often this happens.
- In this new age, people have the tendency to look at their phone screen from the corner of the eye, every few minutes. DO NOT.
- If you focus your full attention on the speaker, eye contact will follow automatically.
TIP: If you find yourself losing focus, ask a question to be more alert, or take notes.
Focus On Nonverbal Communication
Apart from eye contact, other nonverbal cues are as important. Improving communication is not just verbal but also body language cues. Several studies show that between 55 and 65 per cent of your communication is via nonverbal cues. Did you even listen to someone or just say hmm hmm? Where you constantly doing other things when a person was talking to you? Did you make any dismissive gestures or sounds indicating you are annoyed? Or perhaps rolled your eyeballs? These are all forms of non-verbal communication that say a lot.
- Positive affirmations with nods and sounds should be given.
- Listen to the full statement before mentally dismissing it. The dismissal will become evident in your body language.
- Gestures play a major role in communication, so be constantly aware of what you are doing.
- If you have a habit of fidgeting, be conscious and reduce it with regular practice.
TIP: You can’t get rid of certain habits, but you can certainly improve them.
Don’t Depend On Presentations Alone
If you are presenting your plan or findings at a meeting, yes, it is okay to be a presentation along, but ensure you do not cramp it with the information that ideally you should be talking about and then end up reading from it. There is a reason why Steve Jobs and Sheryl Sandberg instituted PowerPoint presentation bans at Apple and Facebook respectively. They hinder.
- Use your visual aids as just that – an aid.
- Be prepared to convey with words and storytelling.
- Make the discussion more engaging with interesting findings and discussions.
TIP: You know the material you are going to talk about the best. Leverage on that knowledge.
If you want to improve your communication, you must learn to listen as effectively as you learn to talk. Communication is about both. Today, attention spans have reduced, especially when everything is available (and can be changed) at the click of a button. Even if you do not cut the speaker off, but mentally tune out of the conversation, your listening skills need to improve.
- Pay attention to what is being said, and show respect.
- Do not start judging from the word go.
- If you have a response, wait your turn to give it, but until then, be attentive.
- No matter what, do not interrupt because you think you have a solution.
TIP: There are several listening tests available online, try one!
The title is exactly what we mean – respond, not react. To improved communication is to avoid reacting. Take your time to the person, digest what he/she is saying and then give your thought-out response.
- Before you blurt anything immediately, first think of what you want to say.
- If there is a counter query, do not get defensive, and go back to thinking about what you want to say.
- Your goal should be getting to a solution, not to put the person down, or reject their ideas.
- If difficult feedback needs to be given, do so objectively, don’t be judgemental.
TIP: Do not put off responding to a later time.
Treat People Equally
Everyone who is listening to you or present in the room should be looked upon equally – a person who is there for the same goal as you. Holding any positive or negative biases is not going to help.
- Do not patronise people, flattering them because you have an ulterior motive.
- For that matter, do not have ulterior motives.
- Talking behind people’s backs is a complete no.
- If you are discussing something confidential, make sure boundaries are maintained.
TIP: This is the best way to build trust and respect among team members.
Improve Communication: FAQs
Q. How can I make a long meeting less stressful?
A. There are many ways. First, set the agenda clearly and decide in advance how much time to devote to it. If you want people to come in with ideas, give them sufficient time to think about them, in advance. Do not expect people to come up with great ideas on the spur of the moment. Second, humour goes a long way. The attempt at communicating in a light-hearted manner, which will put everyone at ease and open up channels of communication. The stress levels will automatically be lower.
Q. After I have said anything, shouldn’t it be assumed that others have understood?
A. This is a misnomer. No one is that articulate, because everyone is different with their thinking. If you want better communication, avoid assumptions of any kind. The onus of ensuring people have understood lies on you.