Communication is a skill that can be improved on like any other skill. Everyone needs good communication skills to have smooth personal interactions and a more trouble-free professional life.
When you communicate effectively, misunderstandings and conflicts are avoided. Effective communication is a teachable skill. Following the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be able to hone your communication skills, making you more productive.
Tips For Improving Your Communication Skills
- Be a Good Listener
You become better at communicating when you’re an active listener. This means you’re not just listening to reply quickly but paying attention to understand what’s being said. People want to know they’re being heard, so pay close attention when someone speaks to you. When you’re not clear on certain things, request clarification. In addition, when you listen, ensure to get the idea of what the person wants. You can achieve this by asking open-ended questions.
- Express Your Personal Views when Appropriate
Communication is a two-way street. When both parties participate, a better outcome is achieved. Even as you actively listen, you need to make your thoughts and opinions known during the conversation. There’s no way anybody can know what you think unless you express that. Being open about your position on specific issues sets a precedent for others to follow. It also makes compromise possible. If you’re speaking to a supervisor, you will need to choose your words carefully so you aren’t insubordinate.
- Avoid Making Assumptions
Avoid assuming you know what a person wants. Making assumptions could lead to misunderstandings. It’s necessary to clarify anything that may be subjective or not 100% clear. Misunderstandings could sometimes progress quickly into conflicts. When you ask more detailed questions, you’ll get the clarity you need. This helps to reduce the occurrence of misunderstandings and, in turn, conflicts.
- Be Succinct and Go Straight To The Point
Clarity and brevity are helpful. Good communicators stay on the message. Have you ever had to sit through a long boring lecture? Avoid superfluous or unnecessary information that can lead to confusion. Your message should be clear and focused on the subject matter.
- If It’s Possible, Plan Ahead
Conversations may be impromptu, but not always. For scheduled meetings and appointments, practice what you’re going to say. You can prepare your talking points, then go over them until you’re comfortable with what you want to say. This trick dramatically improves your communication skills.
- Maintain Eye Contact
This is one way of showing that you’re paying attention to what you’re hearing. Maintaining eye contact indicates to the speaker that you’re giving them your undivided attention.
- Maintain Open Body Language
Try not to be stiff with crossed arms and angry facial expressions. Instead, be open and neutral to show you’re not pre-judging the conversation to come. If your body language comes across as hostile and negative, that can damage the conversation before it begins.
- Let your sentences be brief.
Keep it simple. Ideally, written sentences shouldn’t be longer than two lines. If they are, make them shorter. For example, you can break the sentences into two parts. Also, try to avoid using jargon or words that are subjective. The essence of communication is to make sure both parties understand what’s being said.
- Don’t Reply When You’re Upset
When you receive a digital message that bothers you, don’t reply immediately. Instead, use the next ten minutes to simmer down. We can do irrational things when we’re upset. So naturally, we respond based on how we feel at that moment. That’s why we have regrets over certain actions from time to time. So calm down, think, then respond. Perhaps the sender meant something different than how you interpreted the message. Try to see if the message could have a different context.
- Present Issues in an Objective Manner
Good communication skills minimize the risk of conflicts. One way you can address conflicts is through dialogue. Even if you’re convinced that a person’s actions are wrong, don’t be accusatory. Accusations trigger a defense response. So when you begin a conversation with an accusation, chances are it won’t end well.
As your communication skills improve, conversations will flow better. However, there may still be conflict from time to time. If you have an issue with a supervisor that you feel is unjust, contact the local APC steward at your campus.