Developing Communication Skills

Communication is essential. Effectively communicating is a foundational skill for a healthy and complete personal and professional life. Communication needs to be clear and concise for both you and your audience. You want to be understood and you want to understand. There are three forms of communication, written, verbal and nonverbal, however for right now we are going to discuss some simple techniques which you can easily implement in your daily verbal conversations. These techniques will help you, and others, develop more effective communication skills.

First, when engaged in any conversation, whether it is with a child, a spouse or a co-worker, always make eye contact. Let them know you are present in the moment and you are acknowledging their presence and the importance of the conversation. Look at them – do not let your eyes wander around the room. Be involved in what they are saying and looking the person in the eye helps you actively listen to what they are saying and trying to get across.

Secondly, monitor your body language. Show them you are interested in what they are saying by sitting up and leaning forward. Resist the need to fidget, or tap your fingers or feet. By stilling your body language you can create a comfortable atmosphere for the conversation. To practice, you can always try mimicking the person’s behavior when speaking with them – this will help bring your awareness to body language and what yours is saying about you

Thirdly, practice, practice and practice. Yes, practice speaking – both conversationally and for public events. Be conscious of your volume and of your pace. Be conscious of making eye contact and your body language. Practice makes perfect – becoming aware of how you speak and your language will help you feel more comfortable when that big presentation comes up.

Finally, work on developing your writing skills. These skills, especially in today’s world full of emails, blogs and memos, are a key form of communication. Always proofread your emails, your letters and even your notes. Learn correct spelling and proper grammar techniques (or use the spell and grammar check features in the writing software). Be concise and clear, not elaborate and intricate. Get to the point in your emails and work correspondence. Find the balance between “short and rude” and “wordy and long-winded.”

No matter how you choose to communicate, verbally or in writing, effective communication needs to be organized. Always try to organize your thoughts before communicating. This will insure that you don’t miss an important point which you want to cover. And never assume someone understood you, or that you understand what someone said. It is ok to ask for clarification when someone is speaking (“So what I hear you saying is…..”). And it is also ok to ask for confirmation to make sure everyone is on the same page.

I suggest that you try these techniques, in all aspects of your life, for effective communication and to eliminate misunderstandings.