Communication skills are the abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. Some examples include communicating new ideas, feelings or even an update on your project. Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathising. It is also helpful to understand the differences in how to communicate through face-to-face interactions, phone conversations and digital communications like email and social media. When you improve communication skills, you can even master the art of public speaking.
How to achieve effective communication:
1. Develop a habit of listening:
People want to be heard but do they listen to what the other person is saying. The answer most of the time is a big NO! At that moment, listening to the person speaking should be your primary motive. If you can’t listen to someone with patience, you cannot become a good speaker. Therefore, you should listen carefully and understand the body language of that person.
2. Body language:
Make sure that you appear accessible, so have open body language. Always make eye contact with your audience so that people get connected to you and listen to you more actively. Maintain a positive attitude and smile on your face. Your body posture should be straight, chin down and looking at the audience only. This will show your confidence.
3. Simplify and stay on message:
Always try to be as specific as you can, so that you provide enough information for the other person to understand what you are trying to say. Don’t bore people with unnecessary stories . Do use storytelling to make your talk interesting but come to the point soon. With enough practice, you will learn not to revolve around the topic and stay on your message. Simplify your message so that every person listening can understand what you are saying.
4. Noting Down:
Take notes while you are talking to another person or when you are in a meeting and do not rely on your memory. Send a follow-up email to make sure that you understand what was being said during the conversation.
5. Practice, practice and practice:
There’s no doubt in the famous saying that “Practice makes a man perfect”. If you want to develop communication skills, you need to practice a lot. Do you remember learning to drive? How did you learn it. Did you just watched someone driving and become excellent at driving? Of course not. We all learnt driving by practising a lot. No matter how many times we were close to hitting someone and got our heart into the mouth. You might be thinking why I am talking about this. Well! Public speaking is more or less similar to driving. You have to practice many times before you actually speak in front of an audience. Also, if you want to become an effective public speaker, you should know how to develop communication skills. If you want to master the art of public speaking, check out this blog.
6. Think twice before you speak:
Always think and decide properly before you speak. Words are the most powerful weapon. Use them wisely. Take a little pause before you speak, not saying the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t be in a hurry to express your thoughts. Be patient, take a moment and think properly what you should speak and in what manner. This one habit of yours can save you from embarrassments.
7. Engage your audience:
A good speech should be interactive and it engages the audience. If they are well engaged, they will not feel bored and will be interested in listening to you. Also, it is very important to know the audience that you’re presenting to. Regardless of how compelling the speaker is, the audience has limited attention span. To become a more effective communicator, make your speech interactive and interesting. Read the next point to know how to make it interesting.
8. Make it interesting:
A presentation is more effective and engaging when it doesn’t feel like a presentation. You should know how to tell your story to your audience. If you can transform an ordinary story into an adventure and create a memorable experience for the audience, you can get a lot of attention from your audience. Ask the audience a question, encourage people to call out their thoughts during a brainstorming session or at the very least ask them to repeat something after you. To ensure that the audience understands the key takeaways from a presentation, summarize key points at the end of every segment.
What are effective communication methods?
Communication is a very important skill and art. Achieving effective communication is very important. There are four effective communication methods:
It refers to printed or recorded materials such as plans, contracts, memos, minutes of the meeting, documents and other related written materials. It is used to provide well-thought and well-planned details. These are easier to be reviewed than verbal communication because everything that has been written cannot be altered right away. Also, they can be kept for future reference. Written communication can be time-consuming, but is extremely essential for formal scenarios which require approvals and having legal implications as well.
It involves the exchange of message or information by using words verbally through face to face or telephone conversations. It is the most common type of conversation as it paves the way to get feedback right after receiving the message. In verbal communication, the ability to listen and think carefully before speaking is critical. A person must be careful of the words or expressions to be said. Any word that has been spoken cannot be taken back, so it is important to formulate expressions or sentences carefully and give an impactful speech.
Non-verbal communication is sending information without the use of words. It is mostly through one’s body language, gestures, eye-contacts, appearance and voice modulation etc. You can communicate feelings and emotions through non verbal communication. Non-verbal communication includes body-language, paralanguage (pitch and tone of voice), appearance etc. Research has shown that nonverbal cues or body language along with facial expressions, tone of voice and body stance account for almost 55% of all the communication that takes place.
4. Visual Communication:
“A picture is worth a thousand words”. Visual aids such as animation, colour, illustration, graphs & charts, drawing, signs and logos immensely enhance written communication. Visual communication is also used in the right balance for making information sharing more effective and efficient.
What are the barriers of communication
The use of jargons
Lack of interest or attention
Improper structure of the message
Differences in perception
Echo or noises
How to improve listening skills
1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.
- Look at the speaker directly.
- Put aside distracting thoughts.
- Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
- “Listen” to the speaker’s body language
2. Show That You’re Listening
Use your own body language and gestures to show that you are engaged.
- Nod occasionally.
- Smile and use other facial expressions.
- Make sure that your posture is open and interested.
- Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and “uh huh.”
3. Provide Feedback
Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect on what is being said and to ask questions.
- Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is… ,” and “Sounds like you are saying… ,” are great ways to reflect back.
- Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say… .” “Is this what you mean?”
- Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
4. Don’t Judge immediately
Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions. And don’t interrupt in between with counter arguments.
5. Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by attacking the speaker or otherwise putting her down.
- Be candid, open and honest in your response.
- Assert your opinions respectfully.
- Treat the other person in a way that you think they would want to be treated.
Benefits of communication skills
Having good communication skills always helps a person to grow in his business or in his career growth. Communication skills give you the confidence to speak on stage. Check out this blog to improve public speaking skills. Here are some benefits of good communication skills:
Building a Team
Effective, honest communication can bind employees together. If the staff are talking with each other on the job, that’s a major step towards building a good team. Employees who look forward to talking with their colleagues are more enthused about coming to work.
If they know they can talk to the boss about problems and that the boss will listen, that binds them to the company. Good communication builds teams and increases employee loyalty.
Clarity of mind
Confusing instructions and unclear guidelines are bad for everyone. When communicating with employees, managers have to be clear about what they want and expect. That applies whether the communication is through meetings, instructions, performance reviews or employee handbooks. If workers understand their duties and responsibilities, everything flows more smoothly.
Surviving Difficult Situations
When the going gets tough, employees get nervous. Will they have a paycheck in six months? How long should they wait before jumping ship? Is the boss leveling with them about how bad things are?
If management hides their discussions and just imposing the decisions, then it can kill employees’ faith in the company. Talking honestly about the situation can strengthen their trust. The best companies don’t wait until disaster strikes to start communicating. If the company’s been honest and communicating effectively all along, they will have trustworthy and honest employees which will eventually help in company’s growth.
Managing Different people
Good communication helps to manage people at the workplace. There are always different kind of people with a mix of different races, nationalities, genders or faiths on the job and in it’s easy for people to accidentally offend each other. If promotion and employee review rules aren’t clear, minority workers may feel they’ve been discriminated against.
Policies that clearly spell out how the company applies rewards and penalties can clear things up. Clear guidelines telling employees how to treat each other helps avoid unwanted conflict and creates a healthy working environment.
Dealing With Problems
Bad communication causes all sorts of problems. Two employees receive conflicting instructions. HR issues a warning without finding out what the real issues are. A supervisor doesn’t respond to questions or avoids discussing employee issues.
Communication is a process which can’t be learnt in a day. It needs patience and a lot of practice. The complete communication process has a lot of elements.