Improving your communication skills will enhance many aspects of your life. Good communication skills are beneficial to both personal and professional environments. Becoming a better communicator will open up a multitude of doors that were previously closed.
Contained in this article you will find multiple tips for improving your communication skills. Hopefully, many of these tips are new to you and you gain some valuable information from this article. Even if you have heard many of these tips before this article should be a great refresher and you should still see a boost in your communication skills.
Tips for Mastering Communication Skills
When it comes to communication skills, listening is one of the most important skills a person requires. Too often, we are thinking about what we are going to say next instead of listening to what the other person is saying. When we do this, we don’t truly hear what is being said and our responses might be just a little off. This causes wires to get crossed during conversation and a lot of miscommunication. It is better to listen to what the other person is saying then respond naturally when they are finished.
Body language is a huge part of communication. It is said that 93 percent of communication is non-verbal. 55 percent of which is body language. Our faces, hand gestures, and even the way we stand can give up a lot of information about the way we feel even if our words say otherwise. People pick up on these little clues subconsciously and even consciously. For example, looking down at the ground could be a sign of nervousness. The way a person’s body is positioned toward another person is a very good sign of how interested they are. Standing up straight can be a sign of confidence. Being aware of yours and other’s body language can increase your communication skills.
Important Factors of Body Language in Communication
Smiling can help put the other person at ease during a discussion. Now, this should only be used when appropriate. We shouldn’t be smiling while we give somebody bad news because that could be very confusing for the receiver and may send the wrong message.
You want to maintain good eye contact with the person you are talking to. This displays not only shows confidence but also shows them you are interested in what they have to say. Don’t get too carried away if you stare into their eyes without looking away, it can get awkward. When you do look away, look to the side and avoid looking at the ground because that could be a sign of lack of interest.
You should have an open posture and be relaxed in most conversations. Doing things like crossing your legs or arms can show that you are closed off and may even appear as aggressive to the other person. Also, face the person you are talking to because this shows interest. If you are ever in a group of people and someone is talking, take a look at where people’s feet are facing. If they are interested their feet will normally be facing the person talking. If they are not interested one or both feet will be facing away from the person talking.
While it’s ok to use hand gestures while talking, you don’t want to go overboard. Going overboard can make you seem excited or agitated when you are not. Also over the top hand gestures can be distracting for the person you are talking to.
Understanding body language and how it interacts with communication can be a great tool to learn. For more examples and tips check out click here.
The other 38 percent of non-verbal communication is tone. Changing the tone of words can change the whole meaning. Without tone, there would be no such thing as sarcasm. Many factors go into a person’s tone. Speed, volume, and pitch are all factors when it comes to tone of voice.
Important Factors of Tone in Body Language
How fast or slow you talk can mean different things. For instance, if you talk faster than normal it could show excitement or agitation. On the other hand, if you talk slower than normal it could mean you are trying to make sure the other person understands. When talking to others you want to maintain the right speed for the message you are trying to convey. Keeping to slow of a pace may allow the other person’s mind to wander.
The pitch of the voice can also mean a lot of different things. For example, a higher than normal pitch could mean lying or uncertainty. Whereas a lower pitch typically means confidence. A deeper voice is also more soothing to others in most situations. Whenever possible you want to try to keep your pitch on the lower end without it becoming too unnatural.
The tone of voice is a very important factor in communication. For more information on the tone of voice in conversation check out this article.
Mirroring is a technique used to build rapport with the person or persons you are communicating with and can increase your communication skills immensely. This can be an extremely powerful tool if you use this correctly. To mirror somebody you match their tone and mannerisms. For instance, when someone is talking fast because they are excited you talk a little faster than normal with excitement in your voice.
You can also do this with physical attributes like mirroring the way somebody is standing. When you mirror other people in conversation, you build subconscious connections. Just be careful not to go too overboard with it to where the person consciously sees you copying them. These acts of mirroring should be subtle and natural.
Know Your Audience
Have you ever told a joke that you thought was hilarious but the person you were telling it to, found it rude or offensive? This an example of not knowing or understanding your audience. This is a vital piece of communication that many people overlook. You should be talking to your boss differently than you talk to your friends. There are a million different ways to say the same thing, so before you start talking think about which way is best for the person you are talking to.
Take a sincere interest in what other people are saying. If you honestly don’t care what the other person is saying it will show. This is one of those things that can be catastrophic to the conversation. Most people are very good about picking up either consciously or subconsciously when someone doesn’t care what they have to say. This means when you are talking to someone, give them your full attention the best you can.
Look for Feedback
You always want to look for feedback that your message is being received. Feedback from a receiver can be head nods, repeating the message, questions being asked, or anything else that shows you they are listening and understanding what you are saying. If you aren’t receiving this conversational feedback ask for it. Depending on what the conversation is about you can ask the person if they understand what you are saying or you can ask them if they have ever had an experience like the story you’re telling them.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Closed-ended questions are great for making sure the other person is listening but open-ended questions are great for keeping conversations going. Closed-ended questions are questions that can normally be answered with short answers like yes or no. Open-ended questions are questions that require longer responses to answer. An example of a closed-ended question is “Do you like the beach”? Whereas an open-ended question is something like “What is it about the beach that you like”? Using more open-ended questions in your daily life will not only keep conversations going longer but will also help you learn more about the person you are talking to.
Start and End with Key Points
When trying to make a point it is best to start and end the conversation with your key points. This helps reinforce what you are saying. For example, I often go up to my employees and ask them to get something taken care of that I need completed. Then I may ask them how their day is going. The last thing I say before walking away is don’t forget to get xyz taken care of for me. A little reinforcement keeps my points fresh in their mind. This can be very good for your communication skills when you are trying to prove a point.
Lose the Script
Sometimes we try to plan out what we are going to say when we talk to somebody. This can hurt us in a few ways. First, when we have a conversation scripted out in our mind we tend to think about what we are going to say next instead of listening to the person we are conversing with. Secondly, if the person we are conversing with says something we weren’t expecting we get thrown off. Having key points that we want to hit in a conversation is great but don’t script out how the whole conversation is going to go. Just getting a little better at ad-libbing will increase your communication skills.
Like I discussed earlier mirroring is a great tactic for building rapport but that is not the only way to build rapport. Finding common interests is another great way to build rapport with others. Talking about various topics until you find something that peaks both of your interests. When you find a topic that peaks both of your interests dig a little deeper and let that be your building block for the conversation. Learning to build rapport with people is very important when it comes to communication skills.
Utilize the Power of the Pause
The power of the pause is an amazing tool. If you don’t currently know what it is or how to use it, it’s something you need to put into your toolkit immediately. When you believe somebody is not telling you everything or is not telling you the truth, take a long pause after they stop speaking. Normally silence makes people very uncomfortable in conversation so most of the time these people will start talking more to fill that silence. This is when the truth or the rest of the story will come out. That extra pause can be extremely helpful in extracting information from people.
Focus on the Other Person
Most people love to talk about themselves. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they know best. If you want a conversation to keep going continue to ask a person questions about themselves. Ask them about what they do for a living, what they like to do for fun, or how they feel about certain things. Getting people to talk about themselves shows that you take an interest in them.
Put the Phone Away
This one should be a no-brainer but it needs to be said. To have a good conversation put your phone away. Not only is it really rude to constantly check your phone in the middle of somebody else talking but you will lose your train of thought during the conversation. If you have to check your phone apologize and excuse yourself for a second.
Similarly to being sincere, you should be authentic in your conversations. Be yourself. It’s okay to show a little bit of vulnerability to others. Don’t try to be like someone else just to fit in. Trying to be something you’re not is exhausting and unsustainable. Eventually the real you will come out so why not just be yourself from the start.
Final Thoughts on Communication Skills
Good communication skills are vital in so many aspects of our lives. I hope you gained some valuable information from this article to improve your communication skills. The important part is to keep working on improving your skills as a communicator. The best way to do it is through experience. Look for opportunities to talk to people more. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more your communication skills will increase. Now get out there and become the master communicator you are destined to be.
Mastering your communication is one way to achieve personal growth but click the link to find 16 more ways for personal growth.
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