Effective communication is essential at work, education, home and in relationships. The following are some tips and guidelines on how to improve communication skills:
To begin, we ought to understand what communication entails. Communication is the means through which signals or messages are transferred between the sender and the recipient, via different methods (written words, spoken words or nonverbal communication). It is also the system through which we formulate and modify interpersonal relationships.
Using your Words
Spoken word is a key component of the communication process. Knowing how to use your words will significantly improve your communication skills. Below are some guidelines:
– Articulate your words: Be clear when you speak, do not mumble your words. Note that if your listeners are always asking you to repeat your statements, then it is high time you put more effort in trying to articulate yourself better.
– Pronounce words in the right way: your listeners will always judge you by how good your vocabulary is. Never use a word if you are not sure how it is pronounced.
– Use your vocabulary correctly: if you are not sure about the meaning of a particular word, do not use it in a sentence. To improve your vocabulary, make a habit of learning a new word each day, and use it in your conversations in the course of the day.
– Do not talk too fast: talking too fast not only makes your words unclear, but it makes you seem nervous as well. However do not talk too slow; your listeners might get bored very easily!
Using Your Voice
The right tone of voice makes it easier for you to engage and captivate your listeners. Remember that you may have very rich vocabulary, but if you do not have the right voice to match, all of it will go to waste. Below is some useful information:
– Developing your voice: avoid whiny or high voices; they are not authoritative and most people will not take you seriously. Perform some exercises to lower the tone of your voice. Listen to some great orators such as: Winston Churchill, J.F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barrack Obama. Try and match the pitch of their voices to yours.
– Voice animation: use dynamics and avoid monotones. Raise and lower the tone of your voice from time to time. Preachers are very good at this.
– Use a suitable volume: the volume of your voice should match the setting you are in. for instance, when are communicating up-close with someone, use a softer voice. On the other hand, when you are communicating to larger groups of people, use a higher but deeper voice.
Engaging your Audience
Communication is a two-part process. It involves the sender and a recipient. The sender must always ensure that his/her message gets across effectively. The following are some tips:
– Make eye-contact: whether you are the one talking or listening, maintaining eye contact with the other party will make the interaction more effective. Eye contact shows interest and persuades your partner to become interested in you as well.
– As much it is always nice to maintain eye contact, ensure that you do not stare. One technique that you may try is to look into one eye of your listener then switch to the other eye. Doing it several times will make people believe that your eyes sparkle!
– Gesticulate: this entails gestures with both your face and hands. Let your whole body communicate. For smaller groups of people, use fewer gestures, while for larger groups, more gestures will be ideal.
– Congruency: your tone, words, gestures and facial expressions should all match. For instance, giving a warning or punishing someone while smiling sends the wrong signals and renders your intent ineffective. Therefore, if you have to deliver a strong message, your tone, words and facial expressions ought to match the message.
– Convey positive beliefs and attitudes: the attitudes incorporated in the communication process play a huge role in the way you others perceive you as you interact with them. It is always good to be sincere, patient, honest, optimistic and respectful of others. Understand others, be empathetic and believe in their competence.
Body Language (Non-Verbal Communication)
It is always said that body language constitutes up to 55% of the communication process. This is why it is imperative for us to have a strong body language – one that reflects competence, charisma and confidence. Poor body language can halt the communication process, even before it begins. It may also make it difficult for conversations to flow smoothly. Below are some key body language points to note:
– An open posture with your arms relaxing at your sides shows everyone in your surrounding that you are an approachable person, and that you will be willing to strike up a conversation with them.
– Conversely, crossing your arms and hunching your shoulders is a clear indicator that you are not interested in conversation or you are unwilling to communicate.
– Always raise your head high and face the world; do not stare at the ground. In addition, raise your chest a bit higher, but do not make it so obvious! These show self-confidence and assuredness and people would want to interact with you.
– Do not touch your face too much while speaking. Touching your face a lot while speaking is a sign of low self-esteem and uncertainty. Your listeners will not believe in what you have to say.
As a good communicator, you should not only have the ability of speaking effectively, you must also be able to listen to the other person and engage with them on what they are communicating about. A good listener has to do the following:
– Do not interrupt the speaker while they are talking. Interrupting others while they speak is rude and disrespectful. Pay attention to both what they are saying and what they are not – watch their non-verbal clues to establish their state of mind.
– Ask questions. This is the only way you will fully understand what the speaker was saying, and it also avoids any misinterpretations.
– Be responsive when you listen to others. For instance, nod your head in agreement, or use expressions such as “uh,” “ooh,” or “I understand you.” Such expressions show that you are keenly listening.
Conclusion – Practice Makes Perfect
Lastly, improving your communication skills will require lots of practice. Begin with simple interactions both in the professional and social settings. Refine yourself each day and be open to new opportunities and partnerships.