9 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Communication is a key element in many parts of life.  If your communication skills aren’t where you’d like them to be, there are ways to improve them.  You may be surprised how easy it is to sound more intelligent and confident.  These nine tips will help you learn those skills and more.

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. Be informed before you speak.  Trying to communicate a point that you don’t understand is, well, pointless.  When it comes to communication, sometimes less is more.  If you don’t know something, it’s best to avoid that topic or admit you’re uninformed.  Whenever possible, research the subjects you will be discussing beforehand.

. Listening is just as important as speaking.  Communication is a two-way street.  If you expect to be heard, you must listen.  While listening to what the other person is saying, it’s important to show them you’re listening by looking interested and staying attentive.  This way, they’ll be more likely to listen to you in return.

. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Sometimes people tell you things that seem weird or untrue, and you may not understand why they’re telling you these things.  Try putting yourself in their shoes and you may be able to react in a more helpful way.

. Ask questions if you don’t understand.  If you don’t know what someone is trying to convey, it’s OK to ask questions.  It can even be beneficial to ask questions even if you aren’t curious.  This will make them believe you’re interested in what they’re saying and want to know more.

. Adapt to the feel of the situation.  Everyone has their own conversation style.  If you want to come across as friendly and believable, take on some of the traits of the person you’re talking to.  They will likely feel more comfortable and be apt to trust you.

. Don’t dwell on past negative interactions.  If you’ve had a negative interaction with someone in the past, try not to let it affect future interactions.  It’s important to realize that people can change, and they might not react the way they had in the past.  If you don’t give people the chance to change, they may see you as unapproachable and unforgiving.  This will only make it more difficult for you if you’re attempting to converse with them.

. Stay focused and on topic.  If you’re in a professional setting, it’s important to stay on topic.  If you start talking about something else, you run the risk of not being taken seriously.

. Do your best to stay calm.  Staying calm, especially if someone upsets you, is crucial.  If you react without thinking, you might cause the situation to escalate.  This could lead to both of you yelling and no one being heard.

. Remember that nobody is perfect.  If you slip up and forget any of the above mentioned techniques, don’t beat yourself up over it.  Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how you recover from them that matters.  When you make a mistake, acknowledge it; it’s OK to laugh about it, but don’t dwell on it.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to communication.  Try to relax and do your best.  Over time, these skills will become second nature and you’ll feel communication savvy.

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