How to improve your communication skills?
Now, who doesn’t want to improve communication skills? I mean you know the role it plays right, don’t you? Life without communication wouldn’t be like animals, not plants, it would be worse, because even they communicate. To master communication is towards being better in all aspects.
Our ability to communicate makes us distinct.
And one of the reasons why you stand as the best and the smartest being is that no one else can communicate as you can, you’re a master of communication.
Lacking good communication skills leads to an inferiority complex, hence improving it is a way to overcome an inferiority complex.
The obvious conclusion you may and you should jump on to is that to excel among the species you have to excel in communication and improve your communication skills. As this is what elevates you among others then the perfection of which shall certainly elevate you among yourselves.
As all the imperfections and flaws are resultants of hurdles or barriers, so is the case here. We have barriers that hold us back from that skill level of communication that we aspire for.
But hey; it’s all a lot easier when you know what those barriers are which hold you from that higher level of you. You should know the barriers to communication.
And of course, if you do, and you just want to start working on improving your communication, then you’re at the right place. Let’s begin; these are a few aspects to work on which will help you master communication skills and make you a better personality. Communication is after all one of the determinants of your personality.
1. Get confident.
I might have started with the final word here, I mean that’s how important confidence is. Confidence comes with success, and when you feel that yes, you can handle things very well, and success will touch your feet. Confidence is a belief, and trust, one has in himself.
I can do it, and this trust and dependency on one’s own self make one confident. Confidence and communication skills are almost all that takes for a groomed and developed personality.
We might argue that confidence comes with knowledge, but I’ve seen people making mistakes with confidence. No matter what conclusion that goes to, for now, one thing is certain, confidence counts.
I mean if one can make a mistake with confidence, not worrying about being judged for his communication skills, why can’t you if you’re right? You just have to be sure that you are right though. How? Keep reading.
2. Learn to listen
Make your mind now, communication is more of listening than talking. It’s interaction, where both or even more than one have their contribution. Moreover, there’s no communication without feedback. You’re only listened to if you listen. Nature too has given us two ears.
Listening has to be at least twice what we speak.
Listen twice as much you talk
You cannot improve your communication skills without being a good listener. Listen, and give importance to what others have to say. Value their point of view even if you have a difference. Maintain eye contact, and show that you are attentive.
3. Get feedback to improve your communication skills.
We’ve just been discussing the listening part of communication. Make sure that it includes feedback too, it’s important. We need to analyze ourselves. Is your message conveyed, how efficient were you? What do you need to work on to make it more effective? It’s about how the listeners felt more than your feelings and satisfaction with your communication skills. That’s why you need to get feedback.
And you cannot go on talking without analyzing how to proceed, you cannot master communication like that. A conversation especially depends on feedback. You decide what to speak when you hear what is being said. You respond depending on the situation.
Careful selection of the vocabulary, rhythm, and tone is a meticulous art. It’s imminent and you need to be witty to be accountable. Know the feedback to know exactly what to tune to improve your communication skills.
4. Two-way communication
I know I mentioned listening already, but I still feel the need to emphasize that listening too is a skill in itself. Yes, is not just about listening, it’s about how could you use what you listen to your advantage. Every word, and every minute detail is important.
I’m not speaking of manipulation but driving the conversation where you want it is also important on occasions.
Giving the opportunity to speak, at the right time and for the right amount is also crucial. What is mutually discussed lasts longer in memory as it gets consolidated rather than just having a passive conversation. We need to speak extemporaneously to master communication.
5. Place the key points carefully
Communication is to get the message conveyed, and we elaborate the message to make it comprehensible. I mean, you can’t speak bullet points, can you?
But those points are always there in your brain, and all the effort you do is to convey them. You then think and formulate sentences to deliver those points. And finally, it’s these points that you want to be communicated.
Hence it’s of utmost importance that you place these critical points very carefully in your conversation. These are the essence of conversation and hence require a meticulous plan of placement and arrangement.
It’s like plowing the land before you sow the seeds. It’s a subtle art that needs to be used for the right purpose. There are a lot of people who misuse this skill to achieve personal gains, not bothered if is immoral.
Remember, the beginning and the end is the most effective part of communication. You start with your agenda and with the takeaway point. Get a hold of this and you master communication.
6. Maintain the flow
You’re speaking to someone about a very interesting topic and all of a sudden you go blank, you pause. Imagine that? It ruins all the fun, all the interest that was built up just vanishes as if it wasn’t there at all.
It’s like you were providing water to someone thirsty and suddenly you retrieve and break the continuity, leaving the thirst unquenched. That’s not cool, is it? Pauses in a conversation provide the listener with an unpleasant experience. You cannot master communication if you have this.
Now that absolutely does not mean that I support or promote pauses like ahems and coughs, that makes things worse. They are huge barriers to communication in fact.
We need to have sensible gap fillers for such situations. Even visuals are a distraction sometimes, you show a picture worth a thousand words, but you might lose the flow.
7. Convey more than what you expect to be communicated
Not all that you say is communicated, people retain less than we expect them to. No matter what caliber of communication skills you possess, you can’t expect the listener to recall everything you say. Saying that people remember only 20% of what they hear might not be an official research report but doesn’t seem to be far from being true too.
Now, don’t you ever bombard anyone with unwanted information because won’t that be a bad communication strategy? It has to be. Nobody wants excess information or precisely unwanted information.
Unwanted is unwanted after all, and hence waste of time and energy which nobody appreciates no matter what. Every such thing is an obstacle in communication.
It, in fact, is so bad that it repels the listener driving him away, making him so much not to hear you. And how miserable would that situation obviously be? Trust me, you don’t want to be in a spot where people wish that they should never have started a conversation with you.
8. Speak more than words
Communication skill isn’t confined to being able to speak well. Consider you’re listening to a radio program, those guys are really skilled to make it so interesting to hear them.
But imagine if you could see the same guy on T.V, wouldn’t it make a difference? I mean, being able to see the face of the speaker makes such a huge difference for an obvious reason.
You now are communicated by more than words. You can only master communication if you know all the tricks of the trade as they say.
Picturesque a person with the widest smile you’ve ever seen saying that he is really sad, would you believe him? Or a person with a genuinely saddest face saying that he is so happy today. We don’t trust the words if we see what actually contradicts our hearing.
We rely more on vision than auditory input. It just seems more realistic and reliable for us.
Moreover, the usage of gestures makes your point more credible and valid and makes you more trustworthy. And it makes more sense and is sort of digestible for the brain if it is accompanied by appropriate gestures.
Right from facial expressions to hand gestures and body language, it contributes to effective communication. You even get a broad assumption of what’s going on if you watch a movie in mute mode. Also, keep an eye on nonverbal cues to respond accordingly. Pull this one out, and you drastically improve your communication skills.
9. Have a mentor friend to help you improve your communication.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. You’ll have friends who enjoy laughing at your mistakes, and find someone who supports you by giving positive and helpful feedback. Someone who could provide you with constructive criticism, whom you could trust, rely on and count on.
It’s not easy to analyze ourselves as we are confined by lots of biases and fallacies that we seldom find our own mistakes. And the irony is that we never know that we are being biased toward ourselves.
It’s only when someone else exposes the mistakes we’ve unknowingly committed to that we must have an open heart, we come to know. Unless you know what is wrong, you never know what needs improvement.
10. Watch yourself
I feel the easiest thing to do is sit back and comment on someone or something. Criticizing and suggesting modification as to what would make it better isn’t very tough unless you are practically involved in the procedure. Take the advantage of this, and be your own critic. See what you need to improve your communication skills.
Recall how you’ve performed whenever you feel the need to may it be after a public speech or even a conversation. Try to see a depiction of yourself as a spectator. Step into their shoes and imagine how would you want yourself treated or spoken to. You will have guidance from there. You can guide yourself to achieve strong communication skills.
11. Whom are we talking with?
It’s very considerate to keep this aspect in your consciousness as to whom are you addressing. As has been mentioned before communication is a two-way business, it’s of utmost importance to consider whom we are interacting with.
For the very obvious reason that every individual is different, everyone needs and appreciates a different approach. It’s not one size fits all.
Some entertain humor in speech and some don’t, you use it with the wrong person, you ruin it, use it with the right person at the right time, and you nail it.
Some people like details, others don’t. And many such variations in taste and attitude sum up to make a requirement for a different approach. Every approach in itself is sort of unique, the more creative you are the better results you get, and the more are you applauded as a person.
12. Using Humor to improve your communication skills
Conversations are tasteless without humor as would food be without salt. But mind me, there is a population allergic to this too. But who appreciates it, you should know how to use it when you are in such a company. It just keeps things light and fresh.
Sometimes very important messages conveyed wrapped in a humorous punch turn out to be very effective. Have a pocket full of jokes provided to be used very appropriately where it matches the context to improve your communication skills.
Just in case, never use a wrong joke which doesn’t suit the situation unless you want to make a fool out of yourself.
And don’t overdo this one, you’re not practicing stand-up comedy
13. Avoid repetitions to improve your communication.
Didn’t you just say that already, most of them would not say it out loud out of decency but their brain says it very loud and clear to them. And when it does, trust me it’s a hell of an annoyment poor guy going through at that moment.
The only thing he’ll be looking forward to is getting out of the conversation at the earliest. Avoid sounding monotonous, it makes you look like you are running out of words and you have nothing left to speak about. It might be due to anxiety to speak or whatever other reason, avoid it.
14. When to speak what
You know what I mean, you can’t break into a funeral and announce your wedding right? Everything has an appropriate time, if your timing is good then you get it right. Be specific and relevant. From what I understood if you know what to speak with whom, how, and when then you can master communication skills.
15. Practice and master communication skills.
Practice does make a man better if not perfect. Strive for perfection, and keep practicing.
1. Mirror practice:
This one is very effective if you’re practicing for a public speech. Look into your eyes, and be very expressive using facial expressions, variation in tone, and body gestures to put life into the message you want to deliver.
2. Record yourself and listen
It’s easier than anything else these days, isn’t it? These little devices have a tremendous capability to recall and literally show exactly as it happened without missing any minute detail unless there’s a technical fault of course. Still, they are very reliable.
Get in front of your recording microphone for PC, if you’re not on a laptop or phone, as you won’t need one if you are. By the way, that’s the technical part, push the record button and let the communicable you flow out your thoughts. As simple as that, I know, I know, it’s simpler said than done, but wait till you find the worth of doing it.
Now that you have recorded sit back and watch yourself speak as you’d watch someone else. And try to be very honest with yourself in finding out what makes you feel that this has room for improvement. Though that does sound quite easy but might not be as easy as it sounds, you need to have that eye for assessing yourself.
Make a point that you are watching it with the mere intention of finding flaws in it. And just to not lose the balance also reward yourself with a smile when you see your past self performing well. Get your own feedback.
3. Talk to yourself
This may sound crazy, but don’t skip this one. Even if it isn’t loud, talk to yourself, having a conversation with yourself is a drill you can do without having any threats or confidence issues.
4. Put yourself in a situation where you’ll have to speak
Nothing like experience, going out finding a situation putting yourself in it, and improving your communication skills.
To communicate you need a resource of vocabulary, the richer it is more effective your communication will be and the more credible your personality will look. How to get that flow of vocabulary and good-sounding sentences? Read, read and read. Also, try new words when you get the opportunity. You communicate what you know. The more you read the more you learn and the more you know, the more can you convey master communication skills.