If you think your way of communication is not that good and you want to take it to the next level. This is a step by step guide to improve your communication skills. Follow this guide to become more successful in your life with better communication skills.
In this article, you will know the root-cause which is holding you back to become a better communicator. You will able to figure out what you need to do to improve that. Before knowing how to improve communication skills, let’s understand what actually communication skills are?
What Are Communication Skills?
Your ability to deliver a message in a way that others can understand and respond back to you are your communication skills. It can be in any form like voice, written-words, an expression, or a gesture.
The whole purpose of communication is to share and receive a certain piece of information to get intended results. The better way you deliver a message or ask for information the higher your communication skills are.
Benefits Of Improving Your Communication Skills
Let me first remind you of the benefits of improving communication skills. Let’s have a vision and see what would be the impact on your social, personal, and professional life after improving communication skills.
The higher you’ve got in communication skills the better you will be able to influence and lead this world. It means your level of success most of the time depends on your communication skills.
Have you ever noticed the way people communicate in different stages of life?
Let me explain,
Take your organization for instance and see different levels of employees. Try to interact with them one by one and you will see the higher the position people have in the hierarchy the better their communication skills are.
In a family, whether the husband or wife is good in communication than others; always leads the family and takes decisions. His or her decisions always implies to other family members and become the success pillar of that particular family.
It means you will start getting success right from your family life after improving your communication skills.
Take a friend circle for instance, the stronger your one of the friends is in communication the more you or your other friends ask him or her for certain suggestions or recommendations. It could be for ordering in a restaurant, approaching a senior for certain help, or even in a different situation you ask him or her to talk to your parents or other elders.
You know what, this is all because of his communication skills which make him take decisions at the right time in the right way.
The purpose of this article is to remind you of the value of communication skills and help you to improve them to move to the next level in your life.
Now you got it, right? And your desire to improve your communication skills has become stronger.
Don’t worry, before reaching the end of this article you will have a complete guide to improve communication skills. Make sure, you don’t skip anything.
To know more about the benefits of good communication skills in your life, you can read this article, Importance Of Good Communication Skills In Life
Remember, “A great leader is a great communicator.”
Basics Of Communication Skills
Basically, there are two ways of communicating; verbal and non-verbal. Let me put them in order and describe one by one:
1. Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is sharing or receiving the information through words. It can be both spoken or written. Most of the time people will understand you by your words and ask you to say in words to make them understand what the information is.
Verbal communication includes listening, reading, understanding, and speaking to communicate. You can’t say someone is a good communicator if he or she is only good at speaking and writing words. Listening and understanding are also equally important in verbal communication.
It is a must to listen to the speaker, understand him or her, and then express your thoughts through certain words in the form of oral or written communication.
Essential Parts Of Verbal Communication
Verbal-communication is consists of the following parts:
How you say your words impact others how they listen to you. Pronunciation is one of the major parts of verbal-communication.
Incorrect pronunciation of a word can be misinterpreted and can throw you in trouble. You have to know the proper way of saying a word in a specific language before you speak it.
Most of the time you will be ignored for your sighs or puffs of air when expressing grief, stress, pain, and so on. So, it is better to tell it in proper words to make people understand your situation.
2. The Tone Of The Voice
The tone of voice is equally important to deliver your message. It consists of how you phrase your message with the combination of the right words. You might sound rude to others when delivering a simple message with the wrong choice of words.
So, it is important to take care of our choice of words when communicating.
The choice of words is required in both vocal and written communication. You might have spoken or written in a correct way as per the language perspective, but if your choice of words and structure of phrases is not matching as per the situation, you will be failed in communication.
3. Rate Of Speech
You must match the rate of speech keeping another person in mind you are interacting with. You have to understand when to speak fast and when to slow down, when to raise your voice, and when to let it fall.
People must distinguish whether you are asking a question or telling something informative when communicating with them. Your voice should not be monotone so that people become interested to listen to you and get your message right.
You have to maintain the rhythm and pace of your voice to deliver your message the way you want. Otherwise, it may confuse people with your words and intention.
The appropriate frequency of sound is important to make others feel comfortable about your message and listen to it.
5. Language And Grammar
It is not possible to understand a voice without language and putting the phrased in the right way as per the rule in the language.
So, take care of language and grammar, and if possible always speak in a complete sentence.
2. Non-Verbal Communication
Non- verbal communication is equally important to make you a better communicator. Non-verbal communication means what your body language speaks about you. What people understand by your physical behavior, your facial expression, and most of the time your manners without saying a single word.
You might realize someone when his or her body language explains everything. This type of communication happens automatically without our conscious efforts.
Here are some ways of non-verbal communication:
1. Expression Of Your Face
Your face tells everything about you. It explains your current emotions. Your facial expression will tell people whether you are happy or sad, whether you are angry or calm. It will confirm whether you are confident or nervous.
Your smile, way of frowning, tells everything about your feelings.
2. The Posture Of Your Body And Body Movement
Your body posture can tell whether you are listening to someone or just trying to listen and ignoring. It explains whether you agree with them or have different opinions.
You can communicate with some certain physical gestures as well like, saying ‘hi’ or ‘bye’ by waving your hand, crossing your fingers saying good luck, and so on. Yes, some gestures might vary as per the culture.
4. Eye Contact
You might have analyzed people responding with certain eye contact. Your eyes show your interest in someone, your respect, love, anger, and so on. Your eye-rolling, looking, blinking, and staring convey different types of messages.
Your handshake, your way of touching others, hug, holding someone are some ways of non-verbal communication, which tells how you treat the person you are communicating.
We maintain a certain distance from person to person while communicating. Some allow small or some big gaps when interacting with them. Some feel uncomfortable when you come closer and some feel love and affection.
This all depends on your relationship with the person and some other cultural differences.
Your certain dressing sense shows whether you’re going to the party or in a professional meeting. And your appearance might quite casual when you are at home.
Certain dress code tells what profession you are in like, a white coat of a doctor, a uniform of a policeman, etc.
8. Picture And Graphics
There are some specific pictures and signs for telling something, like a sign of danger, sing of a hospital, and traffic signals and signs. There are some specific pictures that define the place you are in.
Relation Between Verbal And Non-verbal Communication
Your both ways of communication always relate to each other. Like, the relationship of facial expression with your tone of voice.
A good communicator always matches his tone of voice with his facial expression and gestures. By matching your body language with your words you can make your communications skills more effective.
Verbal communication can relate many ways to non-verbal communication. It means the same message can be conveyed through both the ways of communication.
Sometimes, you can use an alternative to each other as per the situation. Like moving your head up and down when saying ‘yes’ or showing frowning eyes when you are disagreeing for something.
When you want to force your message, you deliver it both ways like, saying something in appreciation and clapping at the same time, showing happiness for someone, it is clearly shown in your eyes when you say to them, “I am glad to meet you.”
By delivering the information verbally with non-verbal expressions, people listen to you with more attention and take your words seriously.
Sometimes, your verbal way of communication contradicts with your non-verbal way of communication.
If you say something and your body language shows something else, people might get confused and don’t understand what you are trying to say. This happens most of the time when trying to tell a lie or you are nervous to deal with the situation.
“To make your communication stronger and if you want people to listen to you, your verbal and non-verbal ways of communication must deliver the same message.”
Communication Skills In Different Stages Of Life
We communicate differently in different places of life which is very important. We can’t use the same language or choice of words at work which we do at home or vice-versa. Our way of communication differentiates our personal and professional relationships.
Changing the form of words is necessary to manage work-life balance. If we don’t have good communication skills like that it can spoil our personal and professional life.
To improve the communication skills you need to understand where to use formal words and where you can use casual or informal words.
Basically, we need to use a different tone of voice with different relations around us. Let me explain these common terms.
Communication In Personal Life
As we know we need variety in communication to maintain our relationships. In our personal life like in our family, we understand each other and can communicate more with non-verbal communication.
Our love and care for our family members mostly shown by our actions by keeping our loved ones in mind.
The more strong your communication skills are, the less will be a conflict between you and your family members. So, it is important to acknowledge and understand each other by showing love and affection, and by fulfilling the responsibilities as per your role in your family.
The same goes for friends and society. You need to distinguish how to communicate when you are in a friendship, and when in different relationships in your society.
You have to differentiate who all are your well-wishers and to what extent you can socialize with them.
Also, you need to understand how to communicate with unknown people. Where to be so protective and defensive with your words and expressions.
You might be trustworthy and generous but you have to understand other people as well before showing friendliness. Like; you can’t share your personal information or offer some eatables with someone in your first meeting with them.
Communication In Professional Life
This is most important for many people to be good at communication in their professional life. It might be for you as well that you are facing some inferiority due to the lack of communication skills. Here, you need to be conscious enough.
Don’t believe people too much in your work life as you do in your personal life. You cannot treat people emotionally or with some personal grudges in professional life. It is good to enjoy some official activities and crack jokes but you can’t dwell on that feeling after the occasion. Because it will spoil your personal life.
Yes, there might be some people who are like friends but in the end, when it comes to a promotion they become your competitors. Your success in your career most of the time depends on the communication skills you have.
This starts from the day of your interview with the recruiter. They judge your expertise but over that communication skills as well.
Communication skills become more important when you step up the ladder of management. Like when you become a supervisor or team manager and need to handle people under you. When it comes to team meetings and play the role of leader you must reflect with good communication skills.
Without being efficient in communication, your people won’t understand and listen to you. And being poor in communication will lead to underperformance.
You have to keep polishing your communication skills as you need a level up in your career. Your communication skills make you a good team manager, a good leader, and a great influencer.
Lacking Communication Skills
When you want to say something but not able to express your thoughts. When trying to say it but people misunderstand your message because of mispronunciation or wrong choice of words.
People respond to your query but you have to ask it again because they misinterpret the language you use and answered differently.
It might happen, you don’t understand where to speak and where to remain silent. When it is not right to crack jokes or come up with your sense of humor. Yes, your intent isn’t that bad but due to the lack of communication skills, people might not get right.
Sometimes, you might convey your message in a strange tone of voice due to low confidence or nervousness. You are not sure whether it is right to show your opinion or not.
Often in a class or training with an expert, you don’t understand something but didn’t ask because you are thinking about what others will think about you. Or you ask many questions, but couldn’t make other people understand what you don’t understand and what you want to know more about.
When you purchase something and negotiate the price, you don’t understand whether it is good to bargain or not.
Many other situations in your life might bother you and make you feel offended about your past decisions.
No more stress, I will guide you right here.
Before jumping right into the solution, let’s first understand the obstacle in your way of good communication.
Barriers In Communication Skills
Let me help you to find your answer to this most important question.
Let’s figure out the weak point which leads you to ask, “how to improve communication skills.”
There are many reasons which might stop you to become a good communicator. Here is the list to figure it out:
- You might be using big fancy words to impress people or slang words that are not commonly used. You might be using taboo words which are not supported by the culture-specific people.
- Sometimes, your own habits like not paying attention to the speaker, lacking interest in the subject, or assuming the message and thinking or forming your response while listening.
- Sometimes, you might have the opposite points of view for the same subject you are discussing and don’t want to listen to the speaker.
- In some cases, the mental and physical disorders may be the challenge, like listening or stammering problem, or any other disability.
- You might be not well in non- verbal communication and can’t identify certain cues of body language.
- Sometimes, language and accent issues and different non-verbal cues in a different culture can be the barrier in communication.
- Lack of trust and openness, like, hesitation when communicating to your seniors, or you don’t want to maintain transparency with juniors.
- Some psychological factors like fear of inferiority, fear of judgment, too much self-consciousness, lack of self-esteem, fear of socialism, the nervousness of approaching strangers, and so on.
Now, you have understood what is the main cause, and what needs to be improved, right?
Let’s jump into the resolution:
How To Improve Communication Skills
No more beating yourself up, no more offensiveness about mistakes you have been making so far. No need to worry about deficiency, let’s work upon communication skills from now.
Here is the guide to help you to understand what to focus on and what to ignore to make your communication effective.
Remember, communication is a skill and can be master by practice. So, don’t worry just focus on the key points below and practice them consistently until you involve them in your habit.
These practical tips will help you to deliver your message clearly and effectively to get the intended response. Also, you will able to know the certain emotion behind a message.
Let’s start the journey of better communication:
1. Learn Non-verbal Communication Or Body Language
The topmost step to improve your communication skills is by understanding non-verbal cues or body language. Learn the meaning of different kinds of body posture, gesture, eye contact, and facial expression.
Show the interest, give the importance to others, don’t close the arm, or slouch in the chair when interacting with someone. Avoid shaking your leg, don’t look down when communicating.
By understanding the non-verbal cues better, you will able to know about people and develop a relationship and better communication skills.
Know the action with different types of emotions. Learn the type of smiling, tears, and sweating with different emotional situations.
But don’t judge everything, if you are not sure; communicate verbally by asking questions.
Always try to match your words with your expressions and gesture. At the same time mind your posture. Maintain adequate space, don’t make others uncomfortable. Understand cultural differences. Try to keep a positive body language even if you are nervous or not feeling well.
Always give a firm handshake with a positive smile with eye contact. Giving a good handshake shows your positivity and genuineness.
Hold your head up with tall shoulders and show confidence when interacting with people.
“Studies show that our body language matters 55%, our voice matters 38%, and our words only matter 7% in our overall communication. That means, what you say doesn’t matter, but how effectively you say it matters a lot.”
2. Be An Attentive Listener
Never ever jump into the conversation without knowing the proper information. Learn to listen to people. A good speaker is always a good listener first and if you master both listening and speaking, nothing can stop you to become a good communicator.
Don’t just hear, but listen. Learn how people are using certain words to convey their message and at the same time mind their non-verbal message. Always give attention to the speaker and avoid distractions while communicating.
Understand, ask a question, paraphrase to avoid confusion, and then reply.
If you think you have less to talk and you are not able to speak about your field of expertise; just start listening and reading more and you will have the stuff to speak on.
Don’t discuss what you are not sure about, because incomplete knowledge can be harmful and cause of making fun by others.
When communicating, don’t interrupt others and if someone does that with you, listen to him or her first.
3. Learn To Take Initiatives
Just start communicating, don’t expect others to start the talk. Because other people also think you will start first and if you think the same, the conversation will never start.
Start saying ‘hi, how are you?’ to people, and see the results. By doing this you will see yourself in the habit of interaction.
The more you communicate the more you will learn from people and get experience. Communicate with people you meet frequently and you will see continuous improvement in your conversation skills.
4. Learn To Engage In A Conversation
Storytelling is a great way to attract people and maintain a conversation for longer.
A compelling story always makes the conversation more interesting, so learn to tell stories. If you are not good at something, doing it over and over is the only solution to master it. Therefore, communicate more to improve communication skills.
While telling stories, don’t forget to ask the questions to know whether people are listening to you or not. Know their point of view about what you are telling them, and what they think about your opinion.
The more you engage with people with your storytelling and questioning, the more you will see people taking an interest in the conversation with you.
5. Take Feedback For Continuous Improvement
Being open to feedback always helps. Never feel offensive with feedback, it is an opportunity to analyze, learn, and grow.
Also, learn to evaluate whether the person is deliberately putting you down or it’s genuine feedback.
Ask people what they think about you, your attitude and behavior, your talking sense, and so on. This will help you to know about your presence in surrounding and understand the gap what you think about you and what others think.
After taking continuous feedback, you will able to know your weak points to improve.
6. Follow The Timing And Situation
Learn to know when to speak and when not. Take care of your and other’s valuable time. If someone has no time to listen to you or he or she is in not a situation to communicate, avoid long conversation but never avoid greetings and farewell.
7. Be Clear With Your Word
Speak with clarity and confidence. Learn the art of voice modulation. Don’t use heavy words and taboo slang words, mind the culture you are in before using odd words, and making any gesture.
8. Find Like-minded People
Your friends or colleague who is trying to improve their communication skills, so practice with them.
Hangout with the people who are better in communication than you and learn from them.
9. Don’t Decide Everything
Don’t worry about other people’s opinions of you. Overcome psychological pressure of fear, self-consciousness, and fear of being judged by others. Don’t think that others will be laughing at you or make fun of your way of communication.
Nobody cares that much about others, so just focus on yourself and keep improving.
10. Friendliness And Sense Of Humour
Laugh and make others laugh. But take care of this properly and use a sense of humor in an appropriate situation. Don’t show the opposite reaction or seriousness when other crack jokes, just laugh.
Stay positive with a smiling and welcoming face. Develop generosity and calmness. Try to avoid conflict and help people to come out from a negative vision about things in their life.
Don’t criticize others and don’t talk negatively at someone’s back. Try to know the cause of certain reactions or decisions of someone, before giving your opinion.
If someone makes you uncomfortable, don’t stress out, take a long breath, and pause to prepare a positive response to avoid argument and anger.
Don’t try to win the verbal fight, avoid the conversation by redirecting the topic, or staying silent. Build trust by helping people, and sacrifice that doesn’t harm you.
11. Work On Other Soft Skills
Improve your other soft skills like decision making, self-confidence, problem-solving skills, emotional intelligence, self-motivation, positive attitude, teamwork skills, time management, leadership skills, and others.
Develop the habit of judging the situation when to speak and when not. You have to know what is the right time for questioning. First, understand the situation and then converse in the right way, so you don’t annoy others and not considered as a fool.
You have to understand when to crack a joke and when it right to advise or suggest something so that you don’t hurt others.
12. Have An Impressive Voice
Learn to produce deep voice, the correct pronunciation of certain sounds in a specific language. Learn intonation the rise and fall of voice while speaking, try to match the rate of speech, volume, tone of your voice.
This will help you develop an attractive voice and people will listen to you with more attention.
You can shadowing techniques listening to public speakers, TV anchors, and a trainer in your organization. Listen to audios and observe, like rising and fall of the voice, the pronunciation of words. Your attractive voice will be an add on to improve your communication skills.
13. Develop The Habit Of Proofreading
To improve written communication skills, always proofread before sending a message. You might be perfect in language but many times our thoughts and action don’t match and we make typos.
So, it is always good to read the message before clicking the send button.
Develop reading habits because it helps in vocabulary building and writing. Read books, articles, blogs, and other sources of written material you find interesting.
I hope you’ve understood the basics of communication skills and why they matter. You have understood the role of your spoken words and body language to make communication more effective.
You’ve gone through this guide and have got an idea to improve your communication skills. Now it is time to implement the knowledge you got from this article. Implementation is the only way to improve and get results.
Follow the complete guide and start implementing it by today itself. Also, put in the comment box below how it helped you.