Communication is a life skill that can lead to a lot of opportunities, both personally and professionally; good at communication typically have more friends and work well with others. Developing communication skills is something that all people look should look to improve. In order to help with this development, we have created a list of our top 10 essential skills to improve communication skills.
The most important aspect of communication is the ability to listen. Without listening to others you won't be able to understand their feelings, issues and concerns. Skilled communicators are excellent listeners because they are willing to sit with people and allow them to fully air their issues. Only after they have finished talking does a good listener offer an opinion or advice. This makes the advice given that more powerful because people feel valued and heard and feel the listener understands their point of view.
2. Be Personable
Being personable is a key communication skill. Without being personable no-one will approach you to discuss their issues or seek your advice. So look to develop your personable skills in order to reassure that they can talk to you. Also, personable people are visible, cheerful, calm, positive and respectful. Once you exhibit these personal facets, you'll find more and more people looking to speak to you.
3. Non-verbal Communication
Research into communication shows that what you say only makes up 7% of the message given to others. This means that non-verbal communication is extremely important when communicating with others. How you hold yourself, where your arms are and eye-contact are all aspects that reassure someone that you are interested in hearing what they have to say. One skill to practice is to imagine that you and the other person you're communicating with are the only people in the room. This will make them feel special and make you much more personable.
Being able to understand how someone feels and putting yourself in their shoes is an essential skill off effective communication. Being able to share in someones feelings and understanding their issues means you can show you appreciate their feelings. To empathise you don't have to agree with people, but exhibiting empathy means that people understand that you have listened. Simply saying "I understand how you feel" shows that you have heard them and you respect their point of view.
5. Be Confident
People love confidence. Like laughter, confidence can be contagious and so talking to a confident person can rub off and make others feel good. Being able to confidently communicate to people creates opportunities, whether this is nailing a job interview or striking up a conversation with someone in bar.
Also, when people know you're are a confident person they are more likely to approach you for many things, including small talk, advice, feedback and discussions about work and play.
6. Be Clear and Concise
When communicating with strangers, friends or colleagues it is important that your message can be heard and understood. This means you should be clear and concise with conveying your feelings. Waffle and a lack of clarity will mean that your message may be misinterpreted or ignored. So, keep your message short, clear and direct in all emails, calls and in one-to-one conversations.
7. Give and Receive Feedback
People who welcome feedback are reflective about their behaviour, whether the feedback is positive or negative. If feedback is positive it will re-enforces that what you're doing is correct and successful, whereas if the feedback is negative, reflection will include ways for you to improve.
Being able to give feedback is a communication skill of great importance as you want the listener to feel respected and open-minded rather than closed and hurt. Many people who give feedback often offer positive feedback first, with some areas of improvement later. This makes people feel good and then makes them more responsive to the aspects that they should work on.
8. Respect Others
In order to gain respect you need to respect others. No one respects someone who takes them for granted, doesn't listen or looks like their are uninterested. Conveying respect is a simple communication skill to develop. Doing simple things like using someone name when you first meet them, and then repeating it shows that you're listening and making eye contact in conversations demonstrates that you are interested in what they have to say.
9. Open Your Mind
Open-minded people are effective communicators because they approach every conversation with a sense of flexibility. A willingness to listen to a variety of viewpoints and not judge is the key to have an open mind. Of course you may not agree with everyone's views, but being able to listen carefully and then express your feelings respectful will create debate and a positive experience rather than an environment of resentment, anger and arguments.
10. Talk Face-to-Face
In a world full of social media, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Snapchat, Linkedin etc., not to mentioned text messaging and email, face- to-face communication can be seen as a lost art form. But effective communicators are people that would rather discuss issues in person rather than dropping people an impersonal message via email etc. Talking in person allows you to convey your message with non-verbal communication (remember its importance to communication) and it also allows others to ask questions or impart feedback instantly, meaning messages are understood and can be acted upon quickly.
We hope this 10 tips on ways to improve your communications skills help you to develop the ways you interact with the people around you. If you have any feedback or other suggestions please point your ideas below.