How to Develop Your Communication Skills Employment
Communication skills are one of the most – if not the most – important skill you can bring to your workplace. Whether you’re talking to customers in a shop, or emailing the accounting department about a document, effective communication skills are not only a coveted skill on the job market, they are also a great skill to have in life. Having these skills and knowing how to use them can quickly help you to get the job you want, and they can also help make your job a lot easier.
In this article, we’ll be going through 10 ways you can improve your skills – 5 for verbal communication, 2 for non-verbal communication, and 3 universal pieces of advice. Together, these pieces of advice will help you to become a better communicator.
Verbal Communication Skills
Think About What You Want to Say
Before you speak, take a second and think about what you want to say. Think about who you’re talking to and the tone that you want to project to the person you’re talking to. Think about what they’re saying, and if they’re asking any questions. If that’s the case, make sure you have an answer for them. It doesn’t have to be definitive, but make sure it’s an answer they can go away with.
Thinking about what you want to say will allow you to structure your communication in the best possible way, depending on the situation. For example, you may need to answer a superior’s questions which you don’t have a complete answer. Thinking about what you’re going to say before you say it allows you give a reply which may not be what they asked for but will allow you to save face.
Learn to Listen
Another great tip to remember when talking to people is to remember to listen to them and respond to their actual points. One particularly helpful tip is Active Listening – a technique wherein you make the other person you’re talking to aware that you’re listening to them. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, however, the easiest is to simply repeat what the other person says. For example:
Interlocutor 1: I need that report by 4:15.
Interlocutor 2: I’m hearing that you need that report in by 4:15. However, I have another project going on at the minute, which I’ve been told has top priority. I’m happy to get your report done, but could you speak to management about me getting off this project for a bit in order to do it?
Interlocutor 1: That project’s not my problem.
Interlocutor 2: I know that project’s not your problem. However, at the moment, I’ve been asked to give it my top priority.
Interlocutor 1: Okay, I’ll talk to management.
As you can see, the conversation – which could have gone dramatically differently – was resolved quickly because Interlocutor 2 was showing interlocutor 1 that, even though they were opposed, they were listening to Interlocutor 1.
Listen To Feedback
Related to the above, it’s important to listen to feedback – particularly positive feedback – and pass it on. The reason for this is that effective communicators are often charismatic communicators – people who are positive and make other people feel positive. The easiest way of being charismatic is to push positivity. Compliment people you interact with; make them feel better for having interacted with you.
It’s important not to overdo this, of course – as that may put some people off – however, if done in moderation and in the right circumstances this technique will dramatically make communications more effective and much easier.
Pick Up Some Other (Complimentary) Skills
At the same time you’re improving your communication skills, you should also take the time to learn some complimentary soft skills, such as leadership skills or time management. The primary reason for this is that you will be able to bring knowledge and experience from one skill onto the others.
If you’re unsure about your progress, you can record yourself communicating and gauge your progress based on how you perform. Through this you will be able to view your progress from an external point of view and modify your behaviour as appropriate in order to improve.
In this next section, we’ll be moving onto techniques which will help you with non-verbal communication. According to Albert Mehrabian, 55% of communication is non-verbal – so if you’re trying to improve your communication skills it’s important to brush up on these, too.
Keep Track of Your Body Language
When communicating with people, you’ll want to keep track of your body language and make sure that you’re giving off the right signals at the right time. For example, you don’t want to appear stand-off-ish when speaking to a potential employer, nor do you want to come across as subservient when dealing with a friend.
Read What You’ve Just Written. Edit It As Necessary
Moving onto written communication, our next piece of advice is to read everything you write and then edit it as necessary – this is particularly important on social media, where, ideally, you’d be reading everything over before reading it.
To finish up, there are some pieces of advice that cover both verbal and non-verbal communications.
Learn to Manage Your Emotions
Our first piece of universal advice when it comes to being an effective communicator is to make sure that your emotions are in check when communicating, The expectation used to be that people would be fairly emotionally withdrawn and rather stoic at work, and while times have moved on since then it is still recommended that you maintain a neutral state and tone while in the presence of your employer.
It’s important to not give up if you find yourself stalling. Continued practice will help you get better.
Our last piece of advice is to relax. The truth of the matter is that no one is an expert in communication: no one does it right 100% of the time. The more you practice and the more awareness of the situations where you need to be an effective communicator you have the more effective you will be. But those times where you find yourself to be less than effective shouldn’t get you down.
Remember: part of being a great communicator is having charisma and being easily approachable, and no one is more charismatic or approachable than the person who doesn’t let little mistakes get them down.
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