8 Communication Skills To Improve Your Relationships

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Last Updated on July 26, 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.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree‘s author, Eric Barker outlines the basics of active listening:

  • “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).”

Find out how to be a better listener with 10 easy tips.

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.

a man with his arms crossed showing closed body language
Using open body language shows that you’re approachable. Keep your palms up and arms and legs uncrossed.

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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.

Related: Healthy Teeth: How Loving Your Smile Can Be So Simple

Here’s a quick video on how to improve your communication skills in both work and social situations from Linda Raynier.

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…

5. Ask questions and paraphrase.

So I’ve been told I ask a lot of questions.

(I’ve also heard curiosity killed the cat, but that’s another story.)

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?”

#therearenostupidquestions

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6. Don’t finish people’s sentences for them.

I know it can be tempting to help someone out when they’re struggling for a word or thought, but please avoid this temptation.

I’ll 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 earns either of you the respect you desire.

There are simple ways to show kindness to others but it’s also important to be kind to yourself.

Want to find out what to do when you say something you regret? Learning these important strategies will help you forgive yourself more easily and flip the script on negative self-talk.

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!

Related: 5 Simple Ways To Relieve Stress And Relax

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8 Strategies To Improve Your Communication Skills LoriGeurin.com

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? Share below!

 If you enjoyed these ways to improve communication skills, you’ll want to check out:

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20 thoughts on “8 Communication Skills To Improve Your Relationships”

  1. The last tip is so powerful, but it is the probably the hardest tip to implement into one’s own communication style. Expanding on how to communicate assertively would be a great follow-up post to this one!

    1. It’s definitely the hardest one for me to implement, so I would agree with you here. There are a couple of people in my life who seem to have this one down pat though, lol. I should probably take some lessons from them on being more assertive but it’s definitely something I’m working on.

      I love your blog post suggestion and I’m definitely adding this to my blogging calendar. Thanks so much, Erin!

  2. These are all such wonderful suggestions – and all ones I need to work on. I have the terrible habit of interrupting. I’ve been working so hard to allow others to finish their thought and be present in listening but it’s so hard to change bad habits!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Christa! It sounds like you’re doing great! More power to you for recognizing changes in your life that you want to make and making them happen. #inspiration

  3. Great tips, Lori! Communicating effectively is so vital in our everyday lives! I had never heard the one about not finishing others’ sentences before but it makes sense, and I will definitely be more conscious about it now!

  4. I will admit, I do struggle with finishing other people’s sentences. I have even had a couple of really honest friends tell me I do it, too. I try to make a really conscious effort to hold my tongue until they are done talking.

    1. Hey Cat, Thanks for being real!

      We all have communication issues from time to time, myself included. It sounds like you’ve been able to take your friends input and grow from it…what a great example for us all!

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