Communication skills are some of the most utilized and the most sought after in the workplace. They’re essential for leaders and individual contributors to hone. – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
Looking at our largely remote and hybrid work environments, great communication skills make the difference between connected, agile teams, and teams who fail to collaborate, stay aligned, and achieve common goals.
Whether it’s getting a promotion, landing a new job, or discussing an important topic with a friend or loved one, learning how to communicate effectively is a key soft skill that can be utilized in all aspects of life.
By developing effective communication skills, you can establish trust, resolve conflicts, give better direction, and improve productivity. The easiest way to begin developing your communication skills is to understand best practices and start to utilize them in the real world. – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
The good news is that improving communication skills is easier than you might imagine.
What Is Effective Communication?
Being an effective communicator means being able to both actively listen and clearly express yourself to those around you. Unfortunately, there is no one skill or technique that will make you a better communicator. Effective communication requires a diverse skill-set that covers both verbal and nonverbal communication cues, as well as close listening.
Importance Of Communication Skills
Communication is basically the grease that makes any business or relationship run smoothly.
If you’re in a supportive company where everyone knows what’s going on, what the business is aiming for in terms of long and short-term goals, and more importantly, why you have the best possible place to work.
With good workplace communication, staff feel engaged and enthusiastic, and they feel a part of something. They work without needing to be micro-managed, and they come up with ideas and solutions, because they know they will be heard and that there’s a very good chance what they suggest will be implemented.
Here are some basic principles worth following in order to communicate better.
1. Know Your Audience
It is okay to use acronyms and informal language when you are communicating with a buddy, but if you are emailing or texting your boss, “Hey,” “TTYL” or any informal language, has no place in your message. You cannot assume that the other person knows what the acronym means.
Some acronyms have different meanings to different people, so don’t make yourself misunderstood. Effective communicators target their message based on who they are speaking to, so try to keep the other person in mind, when you are trying to get your message across.
2. Cohesion and Clarity – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
Good communication is much more than saying the right thing; it is about communicating messages clearly and concisely.
Before you start a conversation, type an email or begin a discussion, have in mind what the purpose of the communication is and what information you hope to obtain as a result.
Lack of clarity and cohesion can result in poor decisions and confusion.
3. Practice Active Listening
Communication nearly always involves two or more individuals.
Therefore, listening is just as important as speaking when it comes to communicating successfully. But listening can be more challenging than we realize.
The goal of active listening is to ensure that you hear not just the words the person is saying, but the entire message. Some tips for active listening include:
- Giving the speaker your full and undivided attention.
- Clearing your mind of distractions, judgements, and counter-arguments.
- Avoiding the temptation to interrupt with your own thoughts.
- Showing open, positive body language to keep your mind focused and to show the speaker that you are really listening.
- Rephrase or paraphrase what you’ve heard when making your reply.
- Ask open ended questions designed to elicit additional information
4. Active Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is the art of using words and language effectively to convey your thoughts, emotions, and ideas.
It’s a fundamental skill that plays a pivotal role in various aspects of life. It will help you improve your communication in personal and professional relationships. Additionally, you can also excel in public speaking engagements.
Speaking clearly and deliberately is the cornerstone of effective verbal communication. The way you articulate your words can significantly impact how your message is received and understood. For this, you must:
- Pay close attention to how you pronounce each word.
- Practice pronunciation exercises to improve your expression.
- Speaking too quickly can make you difficult to follow, while speaking too slowly may lead to disinterest.
- Incorporate pauses strategically. Pauses can be used to emphasize key points. It will also help you to allow your audience to digest information or give yourself a moment to gather your thoughts.
- Expand your vocabulary to have a broader range of words. The practice will help you to express ideas more precisely and fluently.
Another important consideration here is learning how to tailor your pitch and tone. The tone and pitch of your voice are powerful tools for conveying emotions and establishing rapport with your audience.
Effective verbal communication requires you to adapt your tone and pitch to suit the context and purpose of your conversation or presentation.
5. Nonverbal Communication – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
Communication consists of much more than just speaking. It involves body language, posture, gestures, eye contact patterns, and facial expressions, among others.
This type of communication often helps more in inciting trust among your coworkers, or from clients, than verbal communication. At the same time, it makes it possible for you to see beyond what a person is saying and right into what they mean, or feel.
As you can imagine, nonverbal communication is a skill that comes in handy for the vast majority of professions (especially sales or leadership roles), not just the world of business.
Instead of adding it to your resume, aim to demonstrate your nonverbal communication skills during your job interviews. This includes maintaining eye contact, and controlling your facial emotions.
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6. Get Your Audience Involved
If you’ve ever worked as an instructor, manager, trainer, or coach, you’ll know that there are few better ways to learn new information than to teach it. Ask them for their input or to take a role in explaining new concepts and policies to their colleagues.
Friendly traits like honesty and kindness can help foster trust and understanding when communicating works. Try to communicate with a positive attitude, keep an open mind and ask questions to help you understand where they’re coming from.
Small gestures such as asking someone how they’re doing, smiling as they speak or offering praise for work well done can help you foster productive relationships with colleagues and managers.
You can practice friendliness by remembering small, thoughtful details about your colleagues or past conversations.
For example, if a colleague tells you their child’s birthday is soon and you connect with them again later, you might ask them how the birthday party went.
8. Speak With Confidence
Confidence is crucial because if you sound like you do not believe in what you are saying, neither will your audience. You want to establish that you have credibility or authority, which makes people trust you and feel more interested in listening to you.
There are a variety of ways to convey confidence, including the way you hold yourself during conversations and the tone of voice that you use.
One way to build confidence before planned conversations, presentations or speeches is to make mental or physical notes about what you will discuss. These notes do not have to be a script but should highlight the main points you want to make.
Your notes provide a direction for your verbal interaction, showing you know what you need to focus on or where you need to steer the conversation. Having a plan will make you feel much more prepared, boosting your confidence.
9. Use Respectful Languages
Choosing your words wisely is one of the most important things you can do to improve your communication. Using inclusive, considerate language shows you respect your colleagues and helps to portray a positive, professional image.
Referring to colleagues by their name helps to build respect while using ‘us’ and ‘we’ rather than ‘you’ and ‘me’ helps to develop a spirit of collaboration and teamwork
Thinking about the words you use can give time to allow others to finish, help you to be concise and present yourself as a calm and consistent presence in the workplace. It can also help to avoid conflict.
Carefully considering your words can help colleagues to understand you better and help you to develop a reputation as a strong and clear communicator.
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10. Patience – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
During your communications with others always give them time to communicate their issues as well. Remaining focused on what they are trying to communicate will show them that you are indeed open to assisting with their issues.
Many of people’s communication lines tend to break down on the side where impatience is in a rush to get out of the conversation. Since you cannot control the other side, do yourself a favor and take a breath. The conversation you’re involved in is important.
If you are confused as to what someone may be requesting, than repeat back to him or her what you think they said and ask if that is correct. Often this will inspire the speaker to be more in-depth about their needs, which will help you to understand them fully.
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11: Keep Stress In Check
How many times have you felt stressed during a disagreement with your spouse, kids, boss, friends, or coworkers and then said or done something you later regretted? If you can quickly relieve stress and return to a calm state, you’ll not only avoid such regrets, but in many cases you’ll also help to calm the other person as well.
It’s only when you’re in a calm, relaxed state that you’ll be able to know whether the situation requires a response, or whether the other person’s signals indicate it would be better to remain silent.
In situations such as a job interview, business presentation, high-pressure meeting, or introduction to a loved one’s family, for example, it’s important to manage your emotions, think on your feet, and effectively communicate under pressure.
12. Ask The Right Questions
To better understand the other’s thoughts and their meaning, ask questions — either to learn something new about that person or to clarify something the other has said.
Closed-ended questions are those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Think of the questions asked in a courtroom: “Is it true that…?” We ask these to get the information we need quickly and with minimal word padding.
Open-ended questions are those the other person can’t answer with a simple yes or no. Answers to these questions take longer and provide more detailed information.
We ask questions out of curiosity and to engage the other person. We also ask to keep a conversation going and to give us another opportunity to pick up on both verbal and nonverbal cues — which leads us to the next communication technique.
In the workplace, people are more likely to respond to ideas that are presented with confidence.
There are many ways to appear confident, including by making eye contact when you’re addressing someone, sitting up straight with your shoulders open and preparing ahead of time so your thoughts are clear and you’re able to answer any questions.
Confident communication is useful not just on the job but also during the job interview process. Additionally, to display confidence, avoid adding filler words.
14. Be Honest and Open-Minded
Going back to the positivity, being open-minded and open to possibilities will get you much further forward than nay-saying every idea before it’s had a chance to work.
Along with that, being honest is a must. Trust is hugely important in any situation, and when people are working in a team, they need to know they can rely on each other to do what they say they will, and be honest about it.
And yes, that includes when you’re the one who made a mess of something. It happens, but it’s not the end of the world. Remember, people can’t help you fix it if they don’t know about it.
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15. Use Positive Body language
Body language significantly influences how others understand you and your message. Maintaining a friendly persona lets co-workers know you are amenable to hearing their ideas and opinions about projects or new designs.
Body language displays empathy and encouragement. Be sure to maintain eye contact when speaking, and using hand gestures can help inform clearer thoughts. Smiling is incredibly dynamic and creates a noticeable difference in perception. People who smile more are considered more approachable and trustworthy.
While many of these good communication skills occur naturally in individuals, some may need to be learned and practiced thus becoming second nature.
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16. Use The Right Medium Or Platform.
Using the right medium or platform to communicate matters. Effective communication requires you to consider whether you need to meet in person or if Zoom would suffice.
Is your message casual enough to use WhatsApp, or would a formal email be more efficient and thorough?
If you are catching up with a friend, do you two prefer to talk on the phone or via old-fashioned letters? Whatever you choose should be intuitive and appropriate for you and your current situation.
You might assess the priority level and the type of communication needed. In a marketing campaign, is there a visual component on Instagram or is it a spoken podcast ad?
Will the platform be a Facebook post, product placement in a film, or a printed poster hung in cafes?
For a university lecture, do students prefer to be online or meet in person? Will there be a discussion afterward, and would it be fruitful to conduct it in a pub, cafe, or in a field outdoors?
By considering your audience, practicing active listening, clarifying your communication, and choosing the right medium or environment, you are well on your way to exercising communication effectiveness.
17. Read Regularly – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
If you want to develop your written communication skills, or you’re interested in learning from books written by effective communicators, reading is a powerful way to cultivate your skills in this area.
Reading is also a good way to stay informed and to learn interesting news and facts that you can then work into a conversation. You’ll also improve your vocabulary which helps make you a better communicator.
Whatever your immediate goal, good reading is a potent catalyst for personal growth.
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18. Good Communication Skills for a Great Career
Succeeding in your career requires good communication skills. You need to know what you want and how you are going to attain it. Being an excellent communicator can help propel your career.
Good communication skills can aid in helping you land an interview and pass the selection process. Being able to articulate well provides a significant advantage. To do your job effectively, you have to discuss problems, request information, interact with others, and have good human relations skills – these are all part of having good communication skills. They help in being understood well and in helping understand the needs of those around you.
Conclusion – Practice To Help Communicate Effectively
Effective communication is a useful skill in all aspects of life but it’s increasingly a huge factor in the workplace, with many organizations ranking it the top soft skill.
Becoming an effective communicator relies on being a great listener and utilizing the common C’s of communication in conjunction with one another. Focus on the problem areas you have and set goals to help you achieve success over time.
Remember, communication is a skill that requires practice and continual development to master.
Interested in learning how to communicate effectively, you might need to join my Effective Communications Online Certification Course the program is designed to help you become an effective communicator.