How to Improve Your Communication Skills

Have you ever being in situations where your words or sentences; as simple as they may seem, are misunderstood?

A number of times, it as a result of your inability to communicate properly, and this is primarily caused by your poor communication skills.

Communication is described as the act of conveying messages from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs, symbols and semiotic rules. Writing and speaking are two essential forms of communication and thus, must be mastered by following their rules and styles religiously in order to become an effective communicator.

Effective communication is very important in our day to day life. Whether you are a sales person, a teacher, a factory owner, a student, a house keeper, an entertainer or a “stay home parent”, it is essential for you to possess good communication skills to avoid being misunderstood which can lead to other complications. Becoming a better communicator requires a lot of work and you must be willing to put in all the work. If you are ready, please proceed.

Below are 10 tips to help improve your communication skills.

1. Know Your Audience

This is as important as what you are about to say. Each audience is different and will have different cultural norms and preferences which must be put into consideration. When communicating, you need to know and understand who the person you are communicating with is and how best you can communicate with that person. Knowing who your audience is involves; knowing their names, understanding what their emotions are, and their age. This will enable you structure what is to be said properly. You cannot be talking to your boss and use informal words or talk to your siblings in a very formal manner; using technical phrases. Both parties would not understand what you are trying to communicate and this doesn’t help you become a better communicator.

2. Engage your audience

Always give room for the other person/persons to say something. Whether it is in a face to face conversation or while texting. Allow the other person a chance to air his or her views. It gets boring after a while, if your audience has to keep mute while you go on talking non-stop. It is also important to ask questions, this is the only way you can know they understand what you are saying.

3. Speak clearly

This also involves; double checking your messages before clicking the send button so as to correct mistakes and confirm that what you want to be communicated is in the message already crafted. Whether you are communicating through text or verbally, it is important to be brief and specific. You know what the subject matter is; stay on topic till you reach the conclusion. Choose simple words that are easy to understand. Avoid using filler words (uuhm and like); this would slow down the conversation and make you appear unsure of what you want to say. Getting rid of filler words make you sound persuasive and more confident.

4. Be an active listener

It is not just enough for your audience to listen. People always want to know that they are being heard. To be a better communicator, you must listen more than you talk. You should form a habit of pausing; take time to watch your audience. Let them speak while you listen. Watch their body language too. This will help you understand their ideas and provide a thoughtful answer. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings.

5. Always think before speaking

Pause, take deep breaths. Take a moment to pay close attention to what you are about to say and how you would say it. Try to avoid the urge to say the first thing that comes to your mind. Building this habit would save you a lot of embarrassment.

6. Body language matters

This is very important in face to face communication. You cannot say you are listening to someone and you have not raised your head from your phone to look at the person once. You don’t want to be saying something while your body is saying something else. Feel relaxed at all times, Avoid crossing your arms. Always make eye contact, take your hands out of your pocket while you speak. This would make your audience know that they have your full attention and that you are open to a 2-way conversation.

7. Mind your written tone

A lot of times, our words over text lose content because of the manner in which we present an idea. We often times underestimate the impact of what we write. We may not mean any harm but some words can hurt and cause conflict. It would not hurt to consider the emotional state of your addressee before sending out a message. Try to use a smiley that equates your facial expression when making a sarcastic comment. This would make the addressee understand better that your words should not be taken literally.

8. Address people by their names

Everyone likes to hear to sound of his or her name. Address the audience by his or her name. When talking to a group or team, make sure to call the names of the members. There is no better way to gain the attention of your audience by calling their names. In a large gathering, it may be really difficult to know everybody’s name. But you should put in an effort to at least know a few.

9. Avoid distractions

It is very rude to use your phone while someone is talking to you. If you have to take a call while talking to someone; excuse yourself first. Make the phone call as brief as possible. A lot of persons have the habit of accommodating side talks from other people while they are talking to someone else. Don’t be that kind of a person, if someone else needs your attention while you are talking to someone; ask that they hold on for a moment. Finish the conversation and then you can start attending to other things.

10. Be positive

Always maintain a positive attitude and smile. Do this while you are on the phone and it will reflect in the tone of your voice. When you always radiate a positive attitude, people would love to listen and talk to you all the time and also reciprocate positivity too.

Communicating effectively is achievable. Having good communication skills is very important in the “corporate world”. Employers always look out for this skill before offering an applicant a job. A lot of persons have lost chances at employment because they lack this skill.

However, communication skill can be acquired. The popular saying “practice makes perfect” is very applicable here. Always practice good communication habits until it sinks deep into you and watch your communications improve drastically.