How to Improve Your Communication Skills

Whether you are talking to a friend, speaking with a coworker, preparing for an interview or conversing with a client, your communication and the way you come across is very important.  No pressure.  Your words and actions help you to portray a certain image when you are speaking.  It is important to be mindful of who you are talking to and how the best way to communicate with them is.  Whether you are an excellent conversationalist or more on the quiet side, it doesn't matter.  You still have qualities that will help you in your communication, but there are a few things to keep in mind, even for the best of the best.

How to improve your communication skills:

  • Know what communication is.

Communication is a technique for expressing ideas effectively, the technology of the transmission of information.

In this definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, take note of the words "expressing" and "effectively." before you can begin to improve upon your communication skills, you must understand what communication is and from there you can move onto how to improve.

  • Be aware of how you already act.

Knowing your current actions and how you communicate with others is key to seeing what you may need to improve upon.

  • Try not to change to many things at once.

Make it your goal to change one or two things at a time.  If you try to change your communication skills all at once, you may forget certain things down the road. It is more important to create positive habits that will last and soon automatically become part of how you communicate.

  • Communication is a mutual understanding.

In addition to understanding what communication is, it is important to realize that the point of communication is to reach a mutual understanding.  Remember that there are at least two parties involved and that contribute to the communication.

  • Maximize positive personality traits.

When you take a step back and look at how you communicate, you identify your weaknesses and strengths. Your weaknesses are what you are improving but don't forget your strengths.  Use your strong points to your advantage .

  • Express yourself.

In order to express your ideas, you must say what you think.  It is OK to have an opinion and to be confident about your opinion or your comments.  Having the courage to express yourself is half of the battle when it comes to communication.

  • See other points of view.

Communication is a lot easier if you are able to take into consideration where everyone else is coming from.  If you only see things your way then part of the communication is already lost. Allowing yourself to have an open mind and to be able to understand the thought process of someone else will allow for greater and more successful communication.

  • Use "I" messages.

Instead of always saying "you" this and "you" that, try saying "I" instead.  That way the person you are speaking with doesn't feel threatened and is more at ease.  With the other person's guard down they are more likely to hear what you are saying and more likely to see things from your point of view.

  • Practice makes perfect.

Be social.  Talk to your friends and family.  Talk to random strangers, though perhaps you shouldn't share your address or phone number (unless he/she is really cute).  However the point is to be comfortable with yourself, your thoughts and your words.

  • Listen.

The other half of communication is listening. Communication is not a one way street. As much as you have something to say, so does the other person.  When you listen, you get an idea as to who you are really talking to and how you should approach them.  By listening, you are actually making communication easier for yourself.

  • Make eye contact.

Sometimes it is hard to do, but eye contact shows you are confident and assertive. It also shows the other person that you are listening and the the conversation is worthwhile.  Making eye contact does not mean to stare deeply into their eyes for long amounts of time which sooner or later (sooner I am guessing) will become creepy.  It really is OK to look away from time to time, just be aware you are not completing averting eye contact.

  • Gestures and body language

Using gestures while speaking helps to encourage and reiterate your words.  It shows passion and allows the conversation to flow freely.

Keep in mind your body language as well. Standing with your arms folded may allow you to look closed off and unapproachable.  With your arms comfortably at your side, you are more open to those around you, making it easier for them to approach you with questions, concerns or even a simple conversation.

  • Be clear.

When you speak, make sure that your point is clear.  Adding details is fine, but unnecessary information clutters the conversation and makes it hard to follow.  Try to be orderly in what you are saying.

  • Enunciate.

Another way of being clear is to enunciate and pronounce your words clearly.  With clear speech it is easier to follow the conversation.  Speaking slowly and clearly will allow you to get further with your conversation and to help improve your communication skills.

  • Use the right words.

By choosing your words wisely, you are able to keep your conversation clear and precise, allowing the other person to follow along.

  • Use enthusiasm and the appropriate volume.

Using animation in your voice allows for an exciting conversation and also keeps the person or people you are speaking to interested in what you are saying.  Having a monotone voice will put anyone to sleep, just think of your worst college know what I am saying.  Also, using the appropriate volume is key.  If you are close together using a six inch voice may be better than using a voice you might use while giving a presentation in front of a large group of people.


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