Being able to communicate effectively – inside or outside of the office – is a critical life skill to learn. But, unfortunately, many people do not put an adequate amount of effort into improving their communication skills due to various reasons ranging from busy schedules to being comfortable with the way they communicate and allocating their time learning different professional skills. However, communication is one of the most important skills to learn continuously throughout your own life and should be prioritized over most other skills. Here are some ways you can learn to communicate more effectively:
First, body language is crucial when it comes to communicating well with others. Whether you’re having a personal conversation with your significant other about your relationship, or you’re giving a presentation in front of your entire office, the way you position your body can play a large role in how well others interpret what you’re saying. For example, if you tell your partner that you are willing to hear what he or she has to say, but your arms are crossed and you are avoiding making eye contact, he or she will probably assume that you really aren’t willing to listen. In addition, if you are in a work environment, standing up straight and using appropriate hand gestures every so often will help you seem confident and will give the audience the perception that you are able to persuade your audience and know exactly what you are speaking towards.
On the other hand, if you are slouching and positioning your body away from the audience, your work peers and advisors will probably get the impression that you do not want to intellectually involve your audience, and could even put your career in a sticky situation. That being said, body language is key for effectively communicating. In order to improve it, work on a “power pose” that you are comfortable with that will help boost your confidence before a presentation at work. In addition, develop strong eye contact with whoever you are speaking to so they know you are engaged and serious.
Another way to improve your communication skills is to ask questions and repeat information that was given to you. Many times, we zone out during conversations, which is perfectly normal. But, in order to stay focused on what other people are saying, make an effort to ask questions pertaining to what they are talking about – and better yet, repeating the last few words of a sentence will further indicate that you are listening effectively and actually care about what they are saying.
According to an article published by Lifehacker.com, asking questions and repeating phrases has many benefits to help improve your communication skills:
“It also helps for small talk and to fill in awkward silences. Instead of trying to stir up conversation on mundane topics like the weather, ask the other person questions (eg.g., ‘Got any plans for the summer?’ or ‘What are you reading lately?’) and engage in their answers. It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting,” (Pinola, Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills).
Lastly, living in this technologically advanced world, we are often distracted by our cell phones, ipads, fitbits, beepers, buzzers, and what have you – so please, when you’re having a conversation – put them away. There’s nothing worse than going out to a restaurant and watching dozens of adolescents and adults fixated to their phones and not having any conversation at all. Let’s face it – it’s just rude. So put away your distractions and look up at the person you’re talking to, this could help our communication skills vastly as a larger population.