How to improve your communication skills

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Communication is an essential part of life – not only professional but also personal. To become an effective communicator, you need keep in mind some fundamental guidelines that can be used while interacting.

Here are some tips to improve verbal communication:

Avoid multiple conversations at a time

It’s good to be able to multitask but when it comes to giving attention to someone, expectations will always be high! No one likes to divide your attention when you are communicating with them. If too many things are going on, there is a high possibility that you miss some important details which can lead you to failure instead of success. If you just focus on one conversation at a time, believe me it will be better in quality and shorter as well; allowing you to sooner to return back to your other important jobs.

Make eye contact

Do you remember your school days where your teacher just kept writing on whiteboard and you were chatting with your class mates behind their back instead of studying! Now, if your teacher would be teaching you by making eye contact with you, you won’t have any other choice other then to study. Making eye contact is important for any verbal communication. Some people feel it quite awkward but believe me that it makes a strong connection with other party and helps in understanding his emotions while communicating.

Focus on the desired result

Just imagine that you just feel that you want to do a meeting with your team members and you ask them to get together for it in 5 mins. After 5 mins they are all staring at you but you are thinking from where to start and how to start! Some of them remind you that they have some urgent jobs to do so they need to get back to their work ASAP. And finally you just talk about some matters here and there and finish the meeting. Neither you are satisfied nor your team members. Instead you could have given a thought on what you want to communicate to your team members before calling them for a meeting. You should have listed down an agenda on paper and also circulated to them with a draft schedule of the meeting. Now whilst running the meeting, you know what you want to discuss and where to start, how to start. Your team members are also ready with their points. So you will get the result as you want.

Listen and do not interrupt

We often think that what we have to say is more important than what others have to say! We always want to rush and make our point. But we should not forget that others also think the same way as we do. Would you like to be interrupted by someone when you are talking? I guess no one would likes that. It’s very disrespectful of someone’s thoughts. Always try to communicate with an open mind. Value the viewpoint of others. You may not always do as others say but there is no harm in listening!

Maintain positive attitude

This is very crucial for any productive communication. If people ever feel attacked or criticized during communication, they will try to either stop the communication straight away or will go on the counter attack. Any of this will be enough to ensure failure at the end of the communication. Even if you want to express concerns or displeasure, be constructive and encouraging rather than complaining.

Follow ups

Before you complete any communication, clarify actions that need to be taken. You may want to set any deadlines, assign responsibilities or accountability as part of that communication; do it before you flag off your communication as completed. Try to make such records in written form as they are always clear and concrete than verbal agreements.

Feedback at the end

We often face the situation where we think that we have conveyed our message properly and then look forward to getting the results eagerly. But what we get is different from what was expected. This is because we didn’t confirm what we had tried to convey was actually understood or not. It is very important to get asked for input or feedback at the end of the communication to confirm if it was communicated successfully.

Here are few tips to improve written communication:

Identify Format and Audience

First step is to choose format in which you will be communicating in. Are you sending an email, writing a letter, creating a detailed report or presentation?

Next is to identify audience with whom you are intending to communicate to. It could be your team mate, your leader, your senior manager, your client or your supplier or anyone else. Depending on audience you should decide how formal the tone should be.

Attitude and Perspective

Do you think that once you identified and audience and format and you are done? That’s not correct. It is also equally important to know the layers of meaning of what you are writing. Your words, sentences and viewpoints reveal your attitude about what you are writing. You will be judged based on what recipient understand from your email or letter, not from what you want them to understand.

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) philosophy 

Don’t just keep your readers in suspense. Everyone is very busy today; already overloaded on emails, texts, reports etc. and you think that they will have some extra time for you to read your complicated email and identify the context from it? No way! You need to keep it simple and make sure that context is clear to audience so that they can continue reading further rather than ignoring it.

Be professional and stay professional

Sometimes you feel it’s may be ok to make some funny comments on a manager’s email and forward to a friend. Sometimes you feel its ok to discuss a new policy change with your team mates by email. Do not forget that you are communicating in writting and this means you are effectively on record! You never know when your emails or messages could be forwarded.

Check and check again

Don’t just hit the send button once you are finished writing. Always give a second review to anything you send to anyone in written. You might be feeling its waste of time. But believe me it’s worth spending time in proofing then spending time in giving explanations when something goes wrong!

Read and interpret

Reading in written communication is equally important to listening in verbal communication. Never start providing a response after just reading just the first few lines. Go through the whole letter or email few times. Try to understand the context of the email without taking anything personal. It’s perfectly alright to ask for clarification you are not clear with anything rather than just replying anything.

These are just few among number of techniques to improve your communication skills. You just need to identify what you are lacking and then keep practising in this area. Never stop putting in the extra effort because no one can ever be perfect in any area.

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