Last Updated on February 10, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Good communication skills are vitally important in many areas of life. Yet, they’re sometimes neglected. When you upgrade your communication skills it’ll enhance your relationships and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Here are 8 ways to improve your communication skills and enrich your life.
Whether you’re at the office with co-workers, socializing with friends, or at home with your spouse and family, learning how to communicate is crucial for developing good relationships. And, whether you’re a beginner with room for improvement or a communication pro, below are 8 actionable steps you can take to develop impressive communication skills.
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8 Ways To Improve Communication Skills
1. Listening is key.
Do you remember Verizon’s ‘Can you hear me now?’ ad campaign?
It turns out there’s a big difference between hearing and listening. Hearing happens, “with or without your consent.” Hearing is passive and doesn’t need any effort on your part.
But, listening requires concentration and attention. You must consciously choose to listen.
Everyone wants to know they’re being heard. So really listen to what the other person is saying without interrupting.
And without formulating a response in your head.
- “Listen to what they say. Don’t interrupt, disagree, or “evaluate.”
- ”Nod your head, and make brief acknowledging comments like “yes” and “uh-huh.”
- ”Without being awkward, repeat back the gist of what they just said, from their frame of reference.”
- “Inquire. Ask questions that show you’ve been paying attention and that move the discussion forward (1).”
(Wanting to learn more about being a better communicator? Robin Roberts teaches effective and authentic communication in her exceptional online MasterClass.)
2. Get rid of distractions.
Put down your cell phone, shut your laptop, turn off the T.V., or whatever it is that might distract you from giving the other person your undivided attention.
This not only helps you pay better attention but it shows the other person you’re focused on them and what they have to say.
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3. Pay attention to your body language.
Body language and facial expressions play a huge role in communication so it’s important to be aware of how these influence your message and how you’re coming across to the other person.
Avoid sending out negative signals through negative body language such as tapping your feet, avoiding eye contact, and crossing your arms.
Instead, use open body language. Keep your arms uncrossed with palms up. Maintain good eye contact. And smile (when appropriate). This positive body language sends the message that you’re approachable and interested in what the other person has to say.
4. Consider who you’re talking to.
For example, if you’re talking to your best friend it’s fine to use informal language, including slang.
If you’re a twin, you may enjoy “twin talk” with your identical sibling. No one else will understand what you’re saying but you two will, and that’s all that matters.
And if you’re conversing with your boss, it’s generally best to keep that in mind too. To sum up this tip, simply try to keep the other person’s perspective in mind.
Keep reading for one of the best ways to improve your communication skills…
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5. Ask questions and paraphrase.
So I’ve been told I ask a lot of questions.
(I’ve also heard curiosity killed the cat. You can draw your own conclusions from that.)
Ask questions to clarify your understanding of what the other person said.
Also, paraphrasing is a great tool to use to show the other person that you’re really listening to them. Here’s an example: “So Sam, what I’m hearing you say is that you’d prefer to go to the conference next week?”
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6. Don’t finish people’s sentences for them.
I know it can be tempting to *help people when they’re struggling for a word or thought, but please avoid this temptation.
I admit I’ve done this before, usually thinking I’m being helpful, but simply put, it’s just not.
When you finish another person’s sentence, you’re stealing power from them in the conversation by taking over. This never feels good or garners either of you the respect you want.
7. Avoid being judgmental.
Some conversations are fun and easy. Often this is because we’re comfortable, perhaps because we know the other person or have things in common.
But even the most difficult conversations can have successful resolutions.
It’s vital to put aside judgment and criticism about the other person if we want to be good communicators so try to keep this in mind any time you’re in a conversation.
Related: 7 Ways To Be A Better Communicator
8. Be assertive and set boundaries.
Developing an assertive communication style has many benefits, especially when it comes to your health. According to www.anxietybc.com, assertive communication:
“can help you to relate to others more genuinely, with less anxiety and resentment. It also gives you more control over your life and reduces feelings of helplessness. Furthermore, it allows OTHER people the right to live their lives.”
Assertiveness is based on mutual respect, which is an essential skill when communicating.
It’s also important to keep in mind that assertiveness is completely different from aggressiveness (or passive aggression). The aim of aggressive behavior is to control and dominate others.
On the other hand, AnxietyBC points out assertive behavior is:
“the honest expression of one’s own needs, wants and feelings, while respecting those of the other person. When you communicate assertively, your manner is non-threatening and non-judgmental, and you take responsibility for your own actions.”
According to The Mayo Clinic, learning to be more assertive is a healthy skill that can help you control feelings of anger and stress while boosting your self-respect.
Assertiveness is a good thing!
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Summary: How To Improve Communication Skills
Learning and implementing effective communication skills can help you prosper in life. Knowing how to effectively communicate is a crucial part of improving your relationships at work and with friends and family.
Plus, having these skills can help you enjoy better health, less stress, and more confidence.
What are your tips for improving communication?
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