One of the reasons you need to improve your communication skills is because every relationship depends on it. You need to know how to communicate effectively with your staff, team members, colleagues, friends, customers or clients, mentors, protegees, spouses etc. Otherwise, you end up passing the wrong message to people every time you converse. You can improve your communication skills and start communicating like a pro if you follow the tips in this post.
Let’s start by defining what communication is
Communication is more than just talking. It involves listening as well. So, to communicate effectively, you have to be able to pass information across to others in a way that is easy for them to grasp and receive. If your audience can’t make sense of what you are saying, or if they don’t receive your message properly, it means you’ve just spent the entire time talking, not communicating. Hence, the need to communicate effectively.
You can improve your communication skills and start communicating effectively if you follow the tips below:
1. Have an understanding of what you are talking about
The is the first thing to note if you truly want to improve your communication skills and communicate effectively. It is important to have an understanding of the subject.
You see, everyone is busy these days. So, no one has got enough spare time to spend listening to people who barely know what they are talking about. So, you’ve got to understand what you are talking about, otherwise, say nothing.
When you don’t know what you are talking about, it will be obvious to the other party, and they’ll find a way to be excused from the conversation.
So, first thing first. Whether you are delivering a speech, talking to one person, your team members, sending an email, etc. Have a good understanding of what you are talking about.
2. Listen actively
Most times, when other people are talking to us, we spend half that time preparing a perfect response to them than we do actually listening to what they are saying. Because we do not listen carefully to what they are saying, we end up giving a generic response that is rarely of any value to them. The truth is that a good speaker is, first of all, a good listener.
The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. It is reading in between the lines. However, you can’t do this if you don’t listen actively. Sometimes, it is more about listening to the other person than talking.
So, if you intend to improve your communication skills, you’ve got to learn how to listen to others more. That way, you can pass the right message across to them.
A friend of yours comes to you to complain about the need to get a new apartment but can’t seem to find any decent apartment with ABC budget in XYZ neighbourhood. You suggesting a neighbourhood that has several better apartments for higher prices shows that you weren’t listening actively to your friend. If you had, you’d have figured that it wasn’t more about the apartments but the budget. He or she is probably saying to you that ABC is all I can afford and I really need to get a nice apartment. A better suggestion would have been to say, how about getting a flatmate so that it eases the burden of the bill?
You see, you can only provide valuable and helpful information to people only if you listen to them properly.
3. Pay attention to body languages and non-verbal signals during the communication
Communication can be verbal and nonverbal. So, while listening carefully to the person, pay attention to their body language as well.
You see, the body communicates nonstop. So, you can tell how a person truly feels from their non-verbal signals.
For instance, if you are discussing with a person who lacks self-confidence, their body is likely to transmit that information faster than their words and vice versa.
So, to be an effective communicator, not only should you listen to people carefully but also watch out for their body language. Of course, this also applies to you when you are speaking. You’ve got to ensure that your body language isn’t saying the exact opposite of what you are saying. For instance, imagine telling someone you are happy to be right there with them, yet your nonverbal signals are saying something else. They’d be able to tell.
So, as much as you pay attention to other people’s body language when they communicate, pay attention to yours.
4. Connect emotionally
One of the things that make your communication effective is not the things you say or do, but how you make people feel. You see, people will forget what you said, but what they won’t forget in a hurry is how you made them feel.
To connect with people emotionally, it is important to show them that you are human just like them. Talk about what drives you, what you care about, how you’ve had to overcome some of the most challenging situations in your life, etc. Do not try to paint a perfect life because you are far from it. Let them see the real you. That way, it will be easy for people to open up to you and connect emotionally.
When you connect emotionally, your communication will be effective because they are not likely to forget you in a hurry.
5. Keeping your responses brief
Finally, do not talk too much. As much as possible, always keep your responses brief. Otherwise, people will start avoiding you. Also, when you talk too much, your audience is likely to forget everything you mentioned in the initial part of the conversation. So, stick to the point and keep it brief.