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20 Proven Ways to Improve Communication Skills in 2020

Communication is the key to human success on this planet. The survival of social animals like ourselves would be impossible without the development of ways to exchange ideas and knowledge. Communication is as important for survival in modern days as it was for our cave dwelling forefathers. Improving communication skills is the modern equivalent of making better flint tools. In this article, we are going to talk about 20 proven ways to Improve Communication Skills.

 

It’s pretty basic. To live you have to work. Working means working with others. And face it, you can’t work together without talking it out. Goes without saying, that communication is still the largest pillar supporting our way of life.

 

Communication skills are the first thing you get sorted by in a world where opinions are endless. You can’t get much out of a conversation if you are not in control. How well you communicate may as well make the difference between you and your competitor down the corridor. 

What are Communication Skills?

Having to learn what communication skills are may seem as a waste of time, and with good reason. We’ve been communicating ever since we said our first words. You have learnt to communicate ideas from people around you. It is very possible that you’ve developed communication in a particular way to fit in with your people which may not fit in with a standardised environment such as, work or education. 

 

Communicating with your family is very different from talking with your boss. Your professor expects a better approach than what you give your buddies. Knowing the difference is key. This blog is written to be your one-stop-guide to understanding communication skills. So let’s start with some definitions,

 

Originally from latin, communication literally means “To share”. Wikipedia defines communication as, – “the act of conveying meanings from one entity or group to another through the use of mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic rules.” 

 

Communication skill is just a fancy name for the different ways you use to convey ideas to the people around you. Relaying messages compactly without mistakes, in an engaging manner is probably the most simple explanation for efficient communication. However, knowing only this doesn’t make you a master communicator. The list of essential communication skills can span pages especially since we keep finding new ways to speak out our minds. The next section is on why being good at communication is important.

 

Why are Communication Skills important?

The corporate world we live and work in today is the frontier of communicating ideas. Apart from day to day communication in the office, sectors such as marketing, customer care, brand management, advertising, and event management rely heavily on the communication skills of the people involved.

Effective communication is all about getting your idea heard. The more easily you do it the better. As you already know, we learn to express ourselves based on how we see others do it. Which is why many find themselves in a situation where improving communication skills means picking up new traits consciously. 

Issuing simple instructions, managing insubordination, boosting morale, communicating productivity targets, and customer feedback all fall under work environment communications. Yet, each is a bit different from the other involving different methods. Improving on these is a good place to start your development in communication.

 

Ways to Improve Communication Skills

Knowing how to communicate helps in many ways. To only list a few,

  • Deepen your connections. 
  • Builds trust and respect. 
  • Improves collaboration. 
  • Easier problem solving.
  • Improve emotional health.

Types of communication

It’s no surprise that us humans communicate in more ways than one. The different ways we communicate in help us add colour to our complex emotions and thoughts. Sometimes without even parting our lips. 

 

To keep it short, we’ll look at the 3 primary types of communication we use.  

 

1. Verbal communication

 

We use a number of ways to communicate and verbal communication is one of the prominent ones. Verbal communication depends on spoken language and related symbologies. 

Language itself is a system of symbols and the rules of manipulating them. Verbal language uses distinct patterns of sound or gesture as symbols which help communicate ideas and information. Dialects are special branches that do not have much distinction from languages.

 

A number of rules shape our way of communication. Phonological rules govern the sounds we make. Syntactic rules maintain the order of words and pauses. Semantics is the agreement that we are talking about the same fruit when we say Apple. Lastly there are Pragmatic rules that govern the contextual meanings.

 

2. Nonverbal communication

Nonverbal communication is non-linguistic representation of concepts and ideas. Haptic communication and Chronemic communication are the lesser known forms of non verbal communication. Gestures, body language, facial expressions, eye contact are nonverbal communications we use day in and day out. 

 

Although simple, nonverbal communication is enough to convey intent and notions. We give off all sorts of information both voluntarily and involuntarily. Shaking hands, a welcoming smile, sweating in discomfort all convey messages to the people around you. 

 

American psychologist Paul Watzlawick argued that, “you cannot not communicate”. As long as we are aware of our surroundings we keep taking in information and that is one of the reasons nonverbal communication is a major way humans communicate. To add on the matter, strongest features nonverbal communication has are multifunctionality, omnipresence and being understood universally.

 

3. Written communication 

 

Writing was invented for the most part to communicate over time rather than place. Technology redefined this feature so we can speak without even looking at each other, and that too in real time. 

Writing didn’t just come into existence. It developed in waves or, information revolutions as we like to call them. It started as paintings (pictograms) on cave walls. After quite some time cave paintings became scribbles on paper. And then we sent the first telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean. In less than fifty-thousand years we went from cave walls to digital screens. Emoticons replaced pictograms. Writing is still the 

most efficient way to convey messages across distances and across time.

 

List of professional communication skills

Communication skills are both universal and specific at the same time. Which is why some environments have special requirements when it comes to communicating. The modern work environment is one such environment. To manage across all your daily activities at work, the following professional communication skills are crucial. How to improve communication skills comes later on in the post so keep reading.

1. Public speaking

Presentations and board meetings are activities you have to face. There is no way around it. It’s only normal that you will be asked to speak in front of the whole office or at least your own team. Being able to speak in these settings is down right essential if you want to be taken seriously. It is by far the most important professional communication skill everywhere.

 

A lot of people suffer from anxiety when facing public speaking events. Stage fright sets in, words start flying in your head and the next thing you know you’re being gracefully guided away from the stage. If you want an office career then public speaking is something you need to master. Period. 

 

2. Soft skills

The age is digital and so is your work space. To make professional communications easy, corporations and industries use diverse softwares and services. These can be either specialised or general communication platforms. 

 

The ability to use these software based communication systems are called communication soft skills. Companies, specially management divisions rely heavily on soft skills to sort assignments, submissions and quotas. Knowing the necessary soft skills has no substitute. 

 

3. Articulation

Articulation is the quality of speaking with clear sounds. Slurring words, unusual lisps make it difficult for listeners. In an official setting where everything you say matters that is something you just can’t ignore. 

 

Being articulate is a key factor that may as well land you your dream job or get you that promotion you’ve been anticipating. Being articulate helps avoid misunderstandings and being misquoted. Good thing to work on if you want to be better at communicating.

 

4. Language

This one’s obvious. Maintaining a professional language is one of the best practices you can maintain. Doesn’t matter whether you have a dialect or not. Choose formal words but keep them easy enough for the average person. Avoid slang and remember, language shows where you come from. Wear it proudly, but don’t let it come in the way of your or others productivity.

 

5. Non-verbals

As you’ve already read about these in the section above, we’ll keep this brief. What you say is definitely important, but how you say it matters more in some cases. Body gestures, eye contact and other such cues are enough to make the difference between a request and an order. Use them properly.

 

Also, keep in mind that public settings mean your nonverbal communications are open to interpretation. It’s good to be conscious of your own gestures and better to be conscious of others.  

 

20 ways to improve communication skills

 

We’ve researched the web to get a compilation of the ways to improve communication skills. To make it easier we sorted them out into 4 subsections;  

For Your Audience

1. Know your audience and show respect

Show your audience proper respect. Underestimating the person in front of you could just be the last mistake you make. Always pay attention to the people listening to you. Try and understand who they are and then deliver what you have to say accordingly.

2. Truly Listen: Empathise

This can’t be stretched enough. Communication isn’t just about saying what you have to say. Being a good communicator means you have to be a good listener. Always. You can’t make conversations fruitful without understanding the person in front. However, understanding and empathizing are different things. Understanding why someone did or said something from standing in their shoes will give you clarity and make your approach with them much more genuine.

 

3. Get feedback on understanding and repeat if necessary

Asking for feedback at a regular pace is important to make sure your message is not lost in the air. If you need to repeat what you said, do not hesitate. Help your audience understand with more attention. You need to make them feel important and included in the conversation.

 

4. Respect trump’s Laughter

Yes, we all know some light hearted comments make small talk easier. Heck, it can even make you the popular one. However, that shouldn’t be the goal since you would also want yourself to be taken seriously. Give respect to earn it back. Use it to establish trust and commitment

 

5. Novelty holds attention

Putting in novel attractions helps draw focus and makes it memorable. Novelty does not necessarily have to be funny. They can be interesting facts or gestures that seem unique. The point is to help the audience remember exactly what you want them to. 

 

6. Nobody cares 

Don’t be anxious. Yes, how you interact matters. But that doesn’t mean everything you’re doing in public is under a microscope. People are too engrossed by themselves (and not necessarily in a bad way) to notice your tilted head or a slight accent at the end of words. Understand that people don’t care to that extent and just relax. 

Work on Yourself

7. Prioritise

We hope this to be the reason you visited our blog. Because you have set priority to becoming a master communicator. Being conscious about your surroundings as well as yourself is key. If you can objectively judge your and others actions then you’re already half way there. Setting priority to improving communication skills 

8. Body language 

It is a broad term involving a lot of things related to communication using our bodies. Body postures are important in setting the flow of the conversation. Some gestures are acceptable and others are to be avoided varying on the environment. To improve your communication skills, maintain a strong yet receiving posture. Use eye contact to draw focus and declare emphasis. Hand gestures are good when used in explaining things. Consequently, too much hand movement can become distracting. Use your body to convey messages consciously.

9. Confidence

There is no exception in this. You are either confident or you’re not. There is no way to fake it. So might as well develop confidence in yourself. A good way to do that is, prepare for the important interactions. You can’t be confident walking into a room blindfolded.

10. Prepare

Being prepared means a lot of things in communication skills. Prepare your response only after processing all the information available. Consider variety in explaining. Try to use appropriate metaphors in describing things. This makes conveying concepts easier. Format what you say before you say it. Cause we all know that the bullet one shot can never be put back in the cartridge.

11. Develop empathy 

To develop empathy you should try two ways, if possible. One is think to yourself. Reflect on your activities and incidents. Imagine situations and put yourself in them. Try to develop an idea about how you react to certain things in your head. 

The other way is to read a lot. Reading exposes you to others experiences making it easier to empathise. Learning about fictional characters is good too. It helps you build a reserve of appropriate responses and understand how to properly use them.

Content Matters

12. Say the right amount 

Avoid talking unnecessarily. Assess how much you need to say to clearly describe or explain something. Set that as your working limit and then gain better understanding to shorten the narrative. Try and keep it straight forward. In a world obsessed with time it is good to not waste any of it beating around the bush. Say what needs to be said without being impolite.

13. Over communicate

Over communication may seem counter productive, but trust us when we say it is important. People usually never remember facts in one go. Make sure to convey a message on several occasions if possible. The average person has a low information retention rate on single event exposure. Best way to do this is try a followup approach to see how much got through in the first attempt.  

14. Time it right

Timing is key. Even good news seems frustrating delivered badly. When you choose to say a certain thing has a huge impact on how or whether it gets accepted. Time it right and you can get the most out of any situation. Not all moments are good or bad. Improving communication skills means knowing the difference.

15. Keep it positive

We all have bad days. Sometimes we are just angry out of hunger or, hangry as the internet calls it. It is very important to snap out of the grogginess when communicating in an office setting. 

You may have had a bad day, but that doesn’t give you the right to misbehave with a fellow colleague or ruin their day. No matter what the case, always greet with a smile and listen intently. Most of all, keep the interactions positive for both you and your audience.

16. Lead with key points

This one’s similar to not beating around the bush. The highlights of your topic need to be clear from the very start. People pay more attention when they know what it is they are learning and whether it is important or not. It also helps people pick where to focus and where attention isn’t necessary. It makes the conversation relatable helping audiences remember ideas better.

17. No one needs to know everything

This one applies everywhere. You will always have things to talk about. But it is important to understand who needs to know what. Too much information is never good in any relationship. Keep your talking points on topic. Avoid wandering around.

Don’t go into unnecessary details cause that’ll just make things too complex for some and down right useless for others. Always try to keep it relevant. Remember that “knowing everything is not always good.

18. Classify information

Being able to tell apart sensitive information is key to improving communications. It doesn’t help to leak unnecessary or even unpleasant information for the sake of being a good communicator. Moreover, it will serve to create a bad impression for you. 

 

Maintain confidentiality at all times. Sensitive information is never a good starting point. Avoid addressing them as much as possible. Always respect the privacy of others.

Technology 

19. Write texts

Writing texts has been shown to improve thinking capacity and written articulation. Texting makes you abide by a word limit. Explaining complex concepts over text messages helps build better understanding of the topic as well as reducing words needed to describe it properly.

 If you want to make it more effective try the twitter 130 character tweet challenge. Take an idea and type it out in 130 characters. You’ll be amazed by how efficient you become in overall communication.

20. Use visual aid but don’t depend on it exclusively

Visual aids are great. We all love them, especially while presenting for a large audience. However, it is not always a good practice to depend on them. Experts say, poorly timed visual aid can sometimes do more harm than good. Don’t use visual aids if they aren’t necessary. You want your audience to focus on your voice and your expressions. The idea is to become the content instead of presenting the content separately. 

Conclusion

After reading such a long post you must be spent. Some of the things you probably knew already, others may have slipped. The key to being a good communicator is being conscious about yourself and the people around you (or people you need to communicate with).

Improving your communication skills is one of the easier ways to gain a professional advantage. Relations between your superiors and subordinates all depends on how well you communicate with them. There is a sweet spot between being taken seriously and being unapproachable. Most people never find this spot and either become unnecessarily friendly or just plain rude. Find the sweet spot and your work environment will turn into your comfort zone.

 

April 14, 2020

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