Communication Is Central To Success
Having excellent communication skills is one of the most important soft skills that you need if you want to build a successful career and, some would say, a happy and successful life. Co-workers regard the great communicators as successful individuals. Being a great communicator will get you places and promotions, but this means you have to be highly versed in all the elements associated with communication. Many people do not communicate effectively; they take turns talking. They may act like they’re listening, but may really just be thinking of what they will say when it’s their turn to talk. Whether you are the sender or the receiver of communication, you have to be comfortable in dealing with all the different channels that exist. These include voice to voice, face to face, written and many more. If you have poor personal communication skills, you will struggle to have interpersonal effectiveness and you will find it very difficult to further your career and personal life.
The Communication Test
There are a number of very quick communication tests that you can use to determine how effective you are in communicating with others.
“Think of a recent important conversation. How many of these questions can you answer YES to?”
How to Improve Your Communications Skills
Some of the questions you will encounter include whether you were prepared for the conversation, if you knew your own communication style and that of the other person, whether you followed up the conversation and more. These questions are designed to help you see where you strengths are and those areas where there is a need for some improvement, so make sure they are always answered honestly in order to enable you to actually become better at what you do. Let’s take a look at some of the best hints and tips out there to help you become the best possible communicator.
Plan the Message
The first thing you need to learn is how you can plan to deliver the message you are trying to communicate. There will be many occasions in which this is not possible, as you will be put on the spot, but if you do have time to plan you should always use that opportunity to your advantage.
“Don’t waste your time conveying information that isn’t necessary – and don’t waste the listener or reader’s time either.”
How Good Are Your Communication Skills? – Speaking, Listening, Writing, and Reading Effectively
Remember, you are not necessarily saying more by using more words. What you need to be able to do is deliver a message in as few words as possible, rather than filling it up with fluff that only puts people off. Ask yourself why you want to communicate, who you are communicating with and what you want to say. Always get feedback afterwards to review how well you have done in achieving your personal communication goals.
Learn How to Listen
Too many people see communication as a one way street. They have a message to convey and expect others to sit back and listen, finding themselves convinced by intelligent discourse. However, communication is a two way street; it requires talking and listening. Just as you expect people to listen to you, you should learn how to listen to them, too. Great communicators are the best listeners because they listen to others to gain a deeper understanding of another person’s perspective.
“Active listening makes the communication process easier. Give your attention to the speaker, watch his face, and make eye contact. Let him finish before you respond.”
Activities to Improve Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills
Some people achieve this by paraphrasing what has been said. This tool has come into question to some degree but this is mainly because people have started to repeat rather than paraphrase. If you get paraphrasing right, you demonstrate that you have heard what the other person has said and this is an invaluable tool in communication.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to smile when you communicate.
“Smile often. The positive energy you radiate will draw others to you.”
Tips to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills
It has been demonstrated through research that smiling even works when the other person cannot see you. Hence, even if you communicate over the telephone, or if you are writing a letter or email, you should still make the effort to smile. This will reveal itself in the tone of your voice, or the tone of your written communication.
Avoid “You” Directives
Avoiding “you” directives can be very difficult, as it is about finding a balance. Some people believe that you should never start a sentence with “you,” but this is not entirely true. If the rest of the statement is positive or neutral, then using “you” at the start of the sentence is perfectly acceptable. However, if you use it as a directive, then the conversation will turn sour.
“Directives are statements that either pass negative judgment, or order another person around.”
Communication Success – Be Ultra-Effective At Home, Work, And In The World
This type of communication simply pushes people away. In order to have excellent interpersonal effectiveness skills, your goal should be to draw people in towards you, getting them to listen to what you have to say and appreciate the message you are trying to communicate. Even if something is someone else’s fault, pointing this out will not undo whatever damage has already been done and can no longer be undone. Hence, you need to watch how you communicate with others, thereby avoiding situations in which you lose someone.
Tone Down Your Expectations
One final and very important part of great personal communication is to lower your expectations. Many of us make the mistake of entering in a conversation with the goal of a certain outcome. This can make us forceful and can lead us to focus almost solely on our message, rather than listening to what the other has to say. It is far more important to keep your expectations out of the conversation.
“We cannot control or change anyone else. This is an easy concept that we all forget often. After all this work we put into structuring an interpersonal communication, there are no guarantees how the person we are speaking with will react.”
7 Steps to Effective Interpersonal Communication
This does not mean, however, that you should always keep your expectations low. This will immediately express defeatism and a lack of respect in the other person. You simply need to focus on your message, as well as listen to the other person. You cannot know what the outcome of that conversation is going to be until you get to the point that the conversation has ended, at which point you can decide how to move on from there.