Effective communication is a critical part of our world. Whether in the workplace, at home, or running errands, the ability to understand other people and be understood influences your quality of life and your relationships with other people. To cultivate a healthy reputation for yourself and good relationships with others, the best thing you can do is develop your communication skills.
How to Communicate Effectively
Good communication involves both verbal and nonverbal cues in different capacities. More importantly, effective communication is a two-way street. Demonstrating to others that you care about what they have to say will earn their respect and make them more likely to listen to you in the future. To improve your communication skills, try these simple steps:
- Practice active listening
- Use multiple communication channels
- Speak clearly
- Be courteous
1) Practice Active Listening
Anyone can just listen to another person talk, but active listening involves more care and consideration. Maintain eye contact and show you’re paying attention. When the time comes, ask questions to clarify anything you didn’t understand. Show the other person that their words are important to you.
Pro Tip: Studies show that repeating something aloud helps you remember it later! Try summarizing the other person’s words and repeating it back to them to show you understood and are making an effort to remember.
2) Use Multiple Communication Channels
As critical and commonplace as face-to-face conversations are, take advantage of other methods when you can. Practice writing clear and professional emails, conducting phone conversations, and sending courteous private messages. Take advantage of a phone answering service if you can. In today’s world, you can’t afford to rely exclusively on a single communication channel.
Additionally, keep your tone in mind. Your boss will probably appreciate a professional tone of conversation much more than your friend, who likely prefers a casual talk. What kind of tone and attitude does the situation call for?
3) Speak Clearly
This doesn’t just apply to pronouncing your words properly. Sometimes, your explanation of a concept may make more sense to you than to your audience. If someone asks you to clarify what you mean, explain in a way that makes more sense and allows them to keep up with you. Even before any questions are asked, if you notice someone looking confused, try rephrasing. Not only will this help you improve your speaking choices, but it will also make active listening easier for your audience.
4) Be Courteous
Finally, one of the biggest factors in effective communication is just being courteous. Treat people with the respect they deserve. Even if you don’t feel like being polite to someone, extending basic courtesy will simply portray you as a good person and skilled communicator during conflict.
Develop Your Interpersonal Communication Skills
Communicating is a universal activity that you’ll need in work, school, friendships, relationships, or even at the store. The stronger your interpersonal communication skills, the better you can understand other people and be understood yourself.
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