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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.