Effective communication skills aren’t just an asset to the workplace, they’re an asset for life. Taking initiative to improve your communication skills is the best thing you can do for your career and personal development as plenty of jobs and relationships are easier to navigate with excellent communication skills.
Despite the numerous benefits communication skills confer on people determined enough to sharpen them, plenty of people are at a loss as to where to begin. This article will highlight the most common areas people experience problems in and explain how these areas can be tackled.
1. Listen to people
Many people who struggle with communication often fail to listen to what other people are saying while they think about what to say next. A small part of listening is listening to the verbal message being sent by another person. In addition to this, listening also refers to how the words are spoken as well as all of the non-verbal messages that accompany those words. Great listeners also employ clarification as well as reflection to show the person speaking that he/she is listening.
2. Ask for feedback
Regular solicitation of feedback will give you opportunities to improve in areas that you would have remained oblivious to. You can ask for feedback from colleagues, friends, and family. Focus on relevant questions such as whether the tone you used in a certain situation was right for that situation, whether people were able to understand you clearly, whether your body language was appropriate and so on.
3. Don’t forget non-verbal communication
Non-verbal communication refers to communication by people without the use of linguistic tools. In addition to the words and tone you use, other factors such as age, gender, culture, religion, emotional state, body language and so on should all be taken into account when communicating with people. A large part of developing effective communication skills is learning how to read these non-verbal cues as they can give you clues as to how to modify your approach when communicating with people. An example of a non-verbal cue is crossed arms. Crossed arms communicate that a person is uneasy, shy or insecure. You can use this non-verbal cue to tailor your approach so that you make someone feel at ease around you.
4. Make use of humor
Many people enjoy a good laugh and are naturally drawn to people who can give them a good chuckle. This is because humor is a fantastic stress reliever tool. Being funny is a great way to make people drop their guard around you. When the people around you begin taking things a little too seriously, consider sharing a joke or a funny story to ease tension. Remember to make sure that your humor is appropriate for the place, time and audience.
Improving your communication skills should be looked at as a lifelong course. There will always be more to learn. While the journey is long and never-ending, it doesn’t mean that the path to self-improvement shouldn’t be taken.