7 Tips to Improve your Communication Skills

Importance of Communication Skills

Communication is a vast and complex topic if you delve deep into it. As a subject, most of us have studied communication at some point in our lives because the ability to communicate is a basic need of human life. That is why it is always helpful to know little tips to improve your communication skills.

You may not have studied subjects like Business Communication but you must have studied one or more languages at school. Well, languages are the brick and mortar of communication. If you think about it, all the subjects are a medium for expressing our ideas and ourselves. Art communicates our ideas through colours and shapes. Mathematics communicates calculations and measurements. History tells us about the past and Geography about the world. The list goes on and on.

We communicate with our fellow human beings all the time in different ways and even find ways to communicate with animals and birds. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that we even communicate with machines, the biggest example of which is our mobile phone. The point is that communication is a core necessity of man.

7 Tips to Improve your Communication Skills
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We can approach this topic in many ways:

  • Based on skills i.e. reading, writing, listening, speaking, body language etc.
  • Based on means and occasions, for example, one-on-one dialogue, telephonic conversation, emails, delivering a speech, essays etc.
  • Depending on our subject or profession, i.e. business communication, delivering lectures, interacting with patients, advertising etc.

All this is textbook stuff that we have heard and read before. Let us approach it in such a way that would focus on improving our communication skills practically. The keyword here is ‘skill’. Knowledge and information, no doubt, help in improving any skill but practice and technique are more important. The same goes for communication skills; one has to practice to improve.

Following is a list of 7 very simple tips to improve your communication:

1. Honesty

I know, you must be thinking, “Hey Grandpa! Don’t start a religious lecture on morality now!” Hear me out, please. I am not going to discuss any of that stuff. We are talking about improving our communication, right? Well, it is a known fact that we talk more confidently and sound much more convincingly when we are telling the truth. Moreover, honesty will make your communication more trustworthy over time. (See! I didn’t discuss morality! Which brings us to my very important next tip. P.S. I am not old enough to be a grandpa, a few white hairs here and there, but no.)

2. Listen Carefully

I can’t emphasize this one enough! Listening has many benefits but the following two are priceless:

– When you listen carefully, the other person will feel like sharing more information with you because he will feel that his words and ideas are being given due importance.

– By listening carefully, you will understand the situation better and will be able to respond more relevantly.

Another tip here is to let the other person complete his/her dialogue or explanation. Interrupting others is impolite as it is, but it can also disrupt your communication as you might jump to wrong conclusions because, well, you didn’t let the other person complete his point.

Moreover, we should also keenly observe the body language of the speaker. Understanding and knowing the mood and emotion of the person you are talking to is an insight that can help you shape the whole communication to your advantage.

3. Choose the Right Words

This is somewhat obvious too but it is very important. Your choice of words must be relevant to the context and considerate of the person/audience with whom you are communicating. It is better to focus on conveying your message properly than to sound scholarly.

Not only is the choice of words contextual, but also the quantity of words. You have to assess whether you should keep it brief or to delve into the extra explanation.

4. Preparation and Practice

You must devise a proper practising routine for yourself if you want to improve. Writers must practice writing and show it to a trustable professional for feedback and suggestions. You can record your voice to evaluate and improve your speaking skills. You can watch videos of yourself and of other people who are experts. Use your imagination and come up with a creative and fun way to improve your skills. This practice will set you apart from your competition someday.

5. Improvisation

This is one of the advanced tips to improve your communication skills. Improvisation during communication is a gift that only a few of us possess. This great skill requires creativity and sharpness of mind. Some have it naturally while others don’t. Nonetheless, it can be attained and honed by improvising during your practice sessions. Your mind and tongue will sharpen with time, the thought process will be a lot quicker and you’ll be adapting to the situation with much comfort.

I have mentioned this as a separate tip because as great and incredible a successful improvisation might make you feel, it can also become a source of embarrassment if you get it wrong. It is better to experiment in a safer environment than to go into uncharted territory at a bigger stage.

For example, you wouldn’t want to ruin your great presentation with a half-remembered idiom. Your audience might go bananas at the drop of a hat. They might not beat around the bush and you might be crying over spilt milk. It might cost you an arm and a leg and your competitor might steal your thunder. To make a long story short, don’t wait to cross that bridge when you come to itburn the midnight oil while practising, grab the bull by the hornsnip the evil in the bud and you will hit the nail on the head in your next presentation. (Whoa! That was fun!)

6. Goal and Relevance

To be effective and efficient, you must realize the purpose of your communication. You may be a master of your language and have tons of knowledge about the subject and you might even have the best product in the world and so on, but if you can’t communicate your message adequately, your goal might get sabotaged. You must know your purpose and stay relevant to it as much as possible to succeed. So get your ducks in a row.

7. Black, White and Grey

To practice and improve, you will first need an evaluation system to detect your weaknesses. Feel free to devise your own. Here is my suggestion:

This is an analogy I like to use while explaining communications and interactions. Let us suppose that you and I are having a conversation. We are discussing a business issue and my understanding of the issue is different than that of yours. Let us give each other’s opinion a colour, for example, mine is black and yours is white. Now as we exchange ideas and opinions, naturally an area of grey starts to appear between us. We will both try to impart our colour on each other which might change the shade of grey. Now, by assigning these colours to our conversation, we can somewhat calculate our performance.

This self-evaluation will help you in realizing your strengths and weaknesses, the result of which can be used to improve your practising routine. Here are a few possibilities of outcomes that can be derived from our example:

  • You embrace my opinion, thus your white turns black. And vice versa if I embrace yours.
  • I agree with you but not completely, so the result is a very light shade of grey.
  • We do not agree with each other at all, thus resulting in a pure grey.

If you keep in mind this simple method of measurement during or after your communication, it will become a sort of instinct and you will attain a sense of self-awareness and in turn, become more productive over time.

Hope you will get some benefit from these tips to improve your communication skills.

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