The other day I was listening to The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. I’ve heard the song many times, but one line caught my fancy. It was the part that goes “…people talking without speaking” and I realized how our innate capability to communicate sets our race apart.
Verbal, or non-verbal – communication goes a long way in creating and sustaining interpersonal relationships. Good communication skills are very important at both work and play.
In this post, I’ll give you a 101 on communication and what you can do to become better at it.
What are Communication Skills?
Let’s start from the basics: communication skills can be defined as the ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively.
Communication is a two-way street. Good communication skills allow you to be understood and to understand. It involves speaking, observing, listening, and empathizing. Communication skills are not limited to face-to-face interactions only. They also include phone conversations and digital correspondence.
Being able to effectively communicate is a life skill that you, I, and everyone else needs.
At a workplace, communication skills are an exceptionally prized skill. It can encourage better interaction with managers, superiors, colleagues, and others. If done right, it can actually help in professional success.
How to Improve Your Communication Skills
Communicating effortlessly is a necessity but not everybody is blessed with effective communication skills.
The good thing is if you’re not the best at communication, you always work on your communication skills and improve it.
Here are a few ways that can help make the process of improving your communication skills easier:
- Be mindful of your emotional quotient
- Keep a check on your body language
- Cultivate the ability to observe and listen
- Be positive
- Treat people with respect, no matter their standing
- Be clear and concise
- Be focused
- Take feedback from your peers
- Identify your weaknesses
How to Develop Communication Skills
Develop your skills by understanding what constitutes them. These are the key communication skills that you need to be aware of and improve upon:
Listen, Listen, Listen
Effective communication skills require you to be adept at listening. You have to actively engage with the people who are speaking. Answer their questions, give inputs and replies, ask questions, and keep the interaction alive.
People like to know you’re interested in what they’re talking about. Make sure you give them your undivided attention.
Center Your Focus on Non-verbal Communication
When it comes to communication, not everything has to be said out loud.
You have to focus on the non-verbal aspect of communication. Some studies suggest non-verbal communication can constitute up to 80% of the total communication!
Pay attention to the person’s body language and facial expression when engaging in a discussion. Look out for eye contact, posture, facial expression, and voice fluctuations. They could tell you a lot about how a person feels about a certain topic.
From cues to body language-learn to decipher all possibilities of communicating without speaking.
Be in Control of Your Emotions
We are emotional beings. It would be a big mistake to assume we can leave our emotions by the door before we communicate with someone. Our safest bet is to be emotionally aware.
In any setting, make sure you put a check on your emotions and manage them effectively. You don’t want to come across as too emotional or too stoic. Letting your emotions get the best of you in public communication can be problematic.
When a person talks, it’s important that you pay full attention to them.
When you’re unable to understand something, don’t be ashamed to ask them for clarification. Better to ask them to repeat themselves than fall into the pit we call miscommunication.
Make sure to ask lots of questions to get more information on a particular topic or to understand the speaker’s standpoint better.
But, unless you have a query, don’t interrupt the speaker. Remember-focus more on getting information than giving it.
How to Improve Communication Skills in A Workplace
Communication skills can make or break your career. In most cases, it is the number one skill employers look for in a potential candidate.
Key communication skills can help you lead, get better positions, and succeed at your workplace. According to Forbes, up to 85% of an individual’s success comes from their ability to effectively communicate, lead and negotiate.
Here are some steps you can take to strengthen your communication skills in the workplace:
Don’t establish a view on someone unless you’ve walked in their shoes. When it comes to effective communication, you need to be adept at being non-judgmental. That’s non-negotiable.
Above all, make sure you don’t insert elements from your life into the conversation. Keep it light and positive. Professionalism is an attitude you need to maintain.
Employ and Practice Active Listening
Listening is a conscious decision. It involves a certain degree of focus.
In a work setting, you have to make the person speaking the center of your attention. By doing this, you cancel all the chances of miscommunication and ambiguity.
Your listening skills also determine just how much information you’re able to derive from a certain conversation. Be responsive.
Get Better at Presentations
I don’t think we truly understand how important speaking skills are until we’re standing in front of a crowd.
Whether you’re talking to a person one-on-one or a crowd of a considerable side, follow tact. Your presentation should not be boring. It should engage the members in a fun and interactive way while still delivering all the essential information.
Master the Art of Feedbacks
Conversations sometimes require feedback. What do you do? Do you deliver your feedback based on the speaker’s status and position in the company? No.
When someone communicates effectively, be sure to leave them positive feedback. It helps more than we think it does.
Similarly, if you feel like someone can do a better job, or their objective was not clear, leave negative feedback. Remember, there’s a right way of going about it.
You don’t want to come across as too harsh and judgemental. Frame it in such a way that your feedback falls under constructive criticism. You can always disagree without being disagreeable.
How Can Communication Skills Help You?
Communication skills are a staple. They let you interact with people in any given setting. Good communication skills act as a stepping stone to a successful career.
For that to happen, you need to know what you want, what you should do to achieve it, and how to attain it. It may sometimes require you to put your point across.
The thing is, good communication while being one of the most included skills in CVs and resumes, does not just include listening and speaking. There are a lot of factors at work here. Factors we overlook because we fail to understand the importance they hold to the overall skillset.
Some communication skills examples that you must work to develop and improve are:
- Ability to adapt
- Use tech related to communication
What Are The 4 Communication Skills that You Need?
There are four basic communication skills that everyone needs to hone. To be good at overall communication, you must be good at these foundational skills.
Communication skills hold a special importance, both in a person’s public and private life. No matter where you go, it is bound to come in handy.
These are the examples of communication skills you need:
This type of communication is all about using the written word to convey information. It is the perfect form of communication as it usually comes with proof, which works all too well in a work environment.
You can send any number of emails, texts, reports, and the likes without missing out on crucial information.
This is the most commonly used type of communication. It involves the use of spoken words to share information. It can happen through various channels: face-to-face, video conferencing, etc.
Non-verbal communication involves the use of body language. It’s a sort of passive communication that employs the understanding of hand gestures, voice modulations, facial expressions, and few other things to express feelings and thoughts.
Visual communication like graphs, images, and maps simplifies communication. It usually comes paired with either verbal or written information. It helps the audience understand complex data in an easy way.
On an Ending Note
We live in a world that fosters competition on a global scale.
Good communication skills don’t just help you in your work life, they also help you overcome various personal barriers and focus on a healthy private life.
Now that you know its importance, you can work towards bettering your communication skills. If you can talk well, you can do wonders.
Remember, practice makes perfect. All you need to know is you can rule the world, as long as you believe in yourself.