Advice | Self Improvement

4 Vital Ways to Develop Effective Communication Skills

Effective communication skills are fundamental to success in many aspects of life. Both personal and professional relationships lie in your ability to communicate well, it’s not just the words that you say but your nonverbal cues or “body language” that speak the loudest. Virtually everything in life requires strong communication skills. People with good communication skills usually enjoy better and healthy interpersonal relationships with friends and family.

Effective communication is a key interpersonal skill and learning how to improve your communication has many benefits. However, many people find it difficult to know where to start. This articles points out the most common ‘problem areas’ and suggests where you might focus your attention.

 

Are you communicating effectively? Each time you speak or send a message; do you always get misunderstood – or perhaps your message isn’t conveyed properly. communication isn’t complete if the receiver cannot decode the message sent.

 

What then is communication?

A two-way process:

Communication is a two-way process which involves the “sender” and the “receiver”. How we receive and decode a message but however, the majority of the problem lies on how messages are received rather than the sending.

 

Ways to Identify Problems

Truth is many people honestly know that they have a problem with communication skills, but struggle to know where to start to improve. There are a number of ways that you can identify particular problem areas, including:

  • Seek an honest opinion from family, friends and colleagues. Most people will be happy to help you with your journey towards self-improvement. They may even have been waiting for just this opportunity for some time. A great way to get their honest feedback if you are really serious about improving self is to ask them to tell you one to two things you need to stop doing or that you need to start doing. Be open-minded to their feedback no matter how unpleasant it might sound because that is how you can truly get to know the most important areas you need improvement.
  • Try self-assessment tools like Interpersonal skills Self-Assessment. If used correctly, this tool will help you identify important areas in your life in which you need to improve upon.

 

FOUR VITAL AREAS OF COMMUNICATION SKILLS TO IMPROVE

  1. Listening

One of the most common and overlooked areas to improve is listening.

Often too many people are talking and no one is listening. Most of what some of us call listening is actually hearing. Even though both processes are received through the ears they are different.

Truth is we all have a tendency to forget quickly that communication is a two-way process. We fall into what is commonly called broadcasting, where we just issue a message and fail to listen to the response. Often times, we are not really listening to what others are saying in a conversation, but thinking about what our reply would be. But then improving your listening skills is likely to pay off in other areas of your life like in your relationships both at work and at home. What, however, is listening? Listening is not the same as hearing.

 

Hearing Vs listening

Hearing is to simply perceive sound by the ear – if you are not hearing impaired, hearing simply happens – it is a passive bodily process. Listening, however, is perceived by the mind – it involves active mental process and it is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain can process meaning from words and sentences of the speaker. It is not just giving your attention to the words been said but also how they are being said and that includes the non-verbal messages sent with them.

Hearing is natural or God-given however, listening is an acquired skill, which only a few people possess. Hearing is Physiological whereas listening is psychological.

Good listeners are attentive – they make good eye contact with the speaker and do not interrupt what the other person is saying; rather they show interest in what is being communicated.

 

  1. Understand Verbal and Non-verbal Communication.

Verbal communication includes both face-to-face conversation and exchange of information with other people. It includes sounds, words, or speaking. But the tone, volume, and pitch of one’s voice are an important factor that can contribute to effective verbal communication.

But for an overall effective communication to take place; the combination of both verbal and nonverbal communication is key to effective communication with other people.

Predominantly people seem to notice nonverbal communication more than verbal. It is, therefore, an important aspect for one to understand non-verbal communication – particular when the mode of that communication is in writing or by telephone.

Non-verbal communication is anything done without speaking. It includes gesture, facial expression, body movement, timing, touch and so on. But yet it goes way beyond that and for this reason, it’s important to control yourself nonverbally. The tone of voice, volume, and pitch are all ways to effectively communicate nonverbally. Your nonverbal communication cues – tell the person you’re communicating with whether or not you care, if you’re being truthful, and how well you’re listening.

When your nonverbal signals match up with the words you’re saying, they increase trust and clarity. When they don’t, they can generate tension, mistrust, and confusion. For you to understand other people better you have to pay close attention to their non-verbal communication – ensuring both your words and body language is consistent. Find out more about non-verbal communication

You can improve how you communicate nonverbally by learning to manage stress and developing your emotional awareness which takes us to the next point.

 

  1. Emotional Awareness and Management

Another vital area of communication is the awareness of our own and other people’s emotions, and the ability to manage those emotions. However, the understanding of our own and others’ emotion is what is referred to as Emotional intelligence. Thus Emotional intelligence (also known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.

Emotional awareness in communication is often misunderstood and rarely ever discussed or taught.

Feelings play a vital role in communication. Emotional awareness guarantees successful communication with other people. If you are emotionally aware, communication becomes easier and better. You will notice the emotions of other people and the way they are feeling influences the way they communicate.

You will also gain an understanding of what others are communicating to you and why. Sometimes, understanding how a person is communicating with you is more important than what is actually being said.

It is pretty hard to try to hide your feelings – and that’s because emotions don’t lie. Instead of trying to hide or ignore your feelings, become aware of your feelings and the feelings of those around you in order to be a better communicator.

You can improve your emotional awareness by focusing on these five skills

  • Consider other people’s feelings
  • Consider your own feelings
  • Have empathy
  • Operate on trust
  • Recognize misunderstandings

 

  1. Questioning skills

This is the area where many people struggle a lot.

Questioning is a crucial skill in communication. It ensures that you have understood a message correctly. This is also a very good way of obtaining more information about a particular topic, or simply starting a conversation and keeping it going. Those with good questioning skills are often also seen as very good listeners because they spend far more time drawing information out from others than broadcasting or trying to air their own opinions.

 

Are you communicating effectively?

Communicating isn’t always easy. At first, some of these tips may feel unnatural or awkward, but they will help you communicate better if you keep practising the necessary skills that are required for effective communication.

 

Recommended reading

10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills – Easy tips to improve communication skills (ThoughtWire)

Six Techniques for Effective Communication – Use these techniques to communicate effectively. (brighthubpm)

Effective Communication Techniques (PDF) – Tips for effective communication in a peer support setting. BCNA National Summit 2017, bcna.org.au 1800 500 258

 

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My name is Juliet. I am a learner and I love to learn Just anything at that lol!

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