There are few things more critical than effective communication skills. This is true both in regards to your personal life and your professional one. If you cannot communicate to those around you what you want and need, then it is going to lead to frustration for both you and them. Many of the disagreements and difficulties in life can be traced back to poor or ineffective communication.
What Might Be Stopping You from Communicating Effectively?
1. Stress and Out-of-Control Emotions
Everyone deals with stress in their lives, which is normal. However, if you cope with that stress badly, it can harm your relationships and professional advancement. Stress and out-of-control emotions can be closely linked. When your stress becomes overwhelming, you cannot control your feelings rationally, emotionally, and constructively.
2. Lack of Focus
You should attempt to be focused on everything that you do. If you are lack concentration and find yourself unable to remain focused on one particular task at a time, then it will be hard for you to get things done, whether you’re at home, work, or school.
3. Inconsistent Body Language
Some individuals fail to realize how much body language matters. Body language goes hand-in-hand with how we communicate verbally. You should keep careful track of what your body language is saying. If it does not convey the same message as what’s coming out of your mouth, then people will find it hard to trust you.
How to Develop Effective Communication Skills
Why is communication important? Without it, no one around you will be able to tell what you want, nor will you be able to determine what matters to them or what they expect from you. Let’s go over a few ways of improving communication skills.
1. Become a Good Listener
There is a practice in which you should engage called, “active listening.” This is one of the communication techniques where you pay careful attention to what the other person is saying. You are trying to digest what they are telling you rather than simply waiting for your chance to speak. Once they are done, try to provide constructive feedback to what they have said. Make sure you have heard the emotion behind their words, and that you’ve paid attention to nonverbal signals. Was the person speaking upset with you? Were they happy, sad, or nervous?
2. Simplify and Stay On-Topic
If you are wondering about how to improve communication skills, one way to do it is to stay on-topic. In both, your work relationships and personal relationships, it’s helpful to convey what you’re trying to say in as concise and as straightforward of a manner as possible. If you have something that you need to say to someone, do so without getting sidetracked. People often appreciate the direct approach, as long as difficult matters are brought up respectfully and tactfully.
3. Take Time Before You Respond
If you’re thinking about how to communicate effectively, this is another tip to which you should pay attention. If someone communicates something to you that was hard to hear or that has made you upset, be sure to take a little time before you respond to them. Try to look at the situation from both your perspective and theirs. Even if you feel differently about what they said then they do, are you at least able to see the validity in their viewpoint? But make sure not to a very delayed response either as that can cause the other person to feel uncomfortable or ignored.
4. Make Sure You Are Understood
Another effective communication technique you should engage in is making sure you’re understood. It’s best if there is no ambiguity about what you are trying to say. When miscommunications happen, it’s usually because one or both people didn’t make an explicit declaration of their viewpoint. Make yourself understood by speaking plainly and directly. That way, the other person may not always agree with you, but they will at least have a clear understanding of the way you feel.
5. Maintain Eye Contact
To be an effective communicator, work on keeping eye contact when you address someone. Not maintaining eye contact with an individual when you speak to them can be seen as being evasive. Meet their gaze as you talk, but also don’t look at them too intensely. That can be interpreted as being confrontational. Despite being one of the more important communication techniques, most people struggle with maintaining eye contact. Here’s a video on why maintaining eye contact is a problem:
6. Improve Your Nonverbal Communication
Another tip on how to communicate better is to practice your nonverbal communication in different situations. If your movements are calm, then you will be seen as being in control of yourself and your emotions. By contrast, if your movements are erratic, then it might make the people around you nervous. The importance of effective communication is easy.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
7. Keep Your Stress in Check
Another good communication skill that you should be aware of is stress management. Find healthy ways of dealing with stress, like yoga, other exercises, meditation, or reading a book. You should be able to communicate more effectively if you can stay calm under pressure. Recognize when you are becoming stressed, and try to keep away from those stress triggers. If you can become known as someone who keeps their cool, then that is a leadership quality that can serve you well both professionally and personally.
8. Control the Volume of Your Voice
There are very few situations that you might encounter where you’ll ever need to raise your voice. Yelling and screaming to try and communicate are techniques that are very seldom going to be effective. In fact, doing such things is often counterproductive. You’ll get your point across just as well if you stay calm and speak clearly, articulating without raising your voice any louder than what it normally is.
9. Look for Humor in the Situation
Even in situations where there is a lot of tension, defusing the heightened emotions is an ability that can serve you well. Attempt to think of ways that you can bring everyone down a few notches if emotions are running high.
10. Assert Yourself
You should not be confrontational, but you shouldn’t be meek, either. Tell people how you feel, or they aren’t going to know. Don’t allow them to invalidate your feelings. Insist on them. Your opinions are valid, and they deserve to be recognized.
11. Presentation & Writing Skills Can Help You Develop Communication Skills
When you learn how to write, part of that is putting your thoughts down on the page in an ordered and coherent format. Presenting in front of others will further allow you to sharpen this skill. You might not necessarily realize it, but to improve communication skills, there are few things better than writing and presenting. When it comes time to tell someone how you feel about something crucial, you’ll be able to do so in an orderly and persuasive fashion.
What is effective communication?
Now, you should have some idea of the answer. Whether your job is in the area of project management, making physical products, selling them, or anything else you can think of, the better you can communicate, the easier it will become for you.
In your personal life, the better you can formulate your thoughts and convey them, and the more you can actively listen, the likelier it is that you’ll stay on good terms with your family and friends. Remember to be assertive, but also attentive to what others around you are saying. Those are the keys to successful communications.