Effective communication skills are key to success in life, work and relationships. Without effective communication, a message can turn into error, misunderstanding, frustration, or even disaster by being misinterpreted or poorly delivered.
Effective communication is a process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, knowledge and information such that the purpose or intention is fulfilled in the best possible manner.
But, what does it mean to be a good communicator? In today’s society, communication can mean anything from body language to talking to someone face-to-face to sending them a string of emojis.
Being a great communicator is one of the most important skills you can have , and is essential to forming strong relationships, within and outside of work.
Conveying a message effectively is an art as well as a skill developed after continuous practice and experience.
It is a two-way process. In other words, it involves both the sending and receiving of information.
It therefore requires both speaking and listening, but also—and perhaps more crucially—developing a shared understanding of the information being transmitted and received.
An effective communication is an amalgamation of verbal and non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication is all about what we say, which is an important way of getting our message across. The words that we choose can make a big difference to whether other people understand us.
Reflection and clarification are both common techniques used in verbal communication to ensure that what you have heard and understood is what was intended. Reflection is the process of paraphrasing and restating what the other person has just said, to check that you have understood. Clarification is the process of seeking more information to inform your understanding, for example, by asking questions.
Using our voice is only the tip of the iceberg
We actually communicate far more information using Non-Verbal Communication. This includes non-verbal signals, gestures, facial, expression, body language, tone of voice, and even our appearance. These can serve to either reinforce or undermine the message of our spoken words, so are worth considering carefully.
In today's highly informational and technological environment it has become increasingly important to have good communication skills.
While many individuals still continue to struggle, the inability to communicate effectively will hold them back not only in their careers, but in social and personal relationships.
You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere
How to improve your communication skills?
With experience and practice, you can learn and improve communication skills. Start by identifying your strengths and then practice and develop those areas.
Ask a close friend or colleague for constructive criticism. It can be hard to know how you are perceived as a communicator. To get an objective opinion, ask a trusted friend for their honest feedback. Understanding your areas of improvement for communication can help you identify what to focus on.
Practice improving communication habits. Many communication skills are habits you have developed over time. You can improve those skills by practicing new habits that make you a better communicator. That might include being more responsive to communications when they are sent, reminding yourself to make eye contact, practicing giving positive feedback and asking questions in conversations.
Attend communication skills workshops or classes. There are several online and offline seminars, workshops and classes that can help you become a better communicator. These classes may include instruction, role play, written assignments and open discussions.
Seek opportunities to communicate. Seek opportunities, on and off the job, that require you to use communication skills. This will help you improve existing skills and allow you to practice new ones.
Listening: Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. No one likes communicating with someone who cares only about putting in her two cents and does not take the time to listen to the other person. If you're not a good listener, it's going to be hard to comprehend what you're being asked to do.
Confidence: It is important to be confident in your interactions with others. Confidence shows listeners that you believe in what you’re saying and will follow through.
Empathy: Using phrases as simple as "I understand where you are coming from" demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.
Active listening: can help you tune in to what your conversational partner is thinking and feeling, which will, in turn, make it easier to display empathy.
Respect: People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Simple actions like using a person's name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.
Feedback: Being able to give and receive feedback appropriately is an important communication skill. Managers and supervisors should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, be it through email, phone calls, or weekly status updates.