Personal development and communication skills go hand in hand. Therefore, excellent communication skills are a must have for a personality that stands out.
Effective communication can help you tackle all kinds of difficult people and situations. It’s fundamental to success in every aspect of life, be it personal or professional. Learning to communicate effectively can strengthen your relationships with family and friends.
Moreover, it builds greater trust and respect, improves team work and your overall social life.
It’s no surprise that communication skills are highly valued by employers. In fact, according to a 2016 survey, employers ranked verbal communication skills as the number one quality they look for in candidates.
5 Reasons Why Communication Skills Are Important in Personal Development
1. Improved Relationships and Social Life
Inability to express yourself properly and not being able listen to others are some of the major reasons why a number of relationships and partnerships fail. Good communication skills help you work on both. As a result, you understand others better and are also understood.
Communication is vital in maintaining good relationship with family, friends and colleagues. Whether you want to grow close to your children, spouse or parents, you have to improve your communication.
2. Your Chances of Securing Your Dream Job Improve
As already discussed above, employers are on the lookout for people who demonstrate the ability to verbally communicate both inside and outside the organization.
So, if you’re applying for jobs or looking to get a promotion at your current organization, you most certainly have to master the art of communication.
3. You Become an Important Team Player
Honest and effective communication is necessary for building strong teams. Employees collaborate better when they consult with each other, consider varying opinions and are open to criticism.
Moreover, it creates a relationship of trust among each other and makes all team members feel valued. The lack of secrecy will lead to all teammates performing well and will keep the entire team in the loop.
4. You Are Able to Deal with Conflicts
Conflicts are present in every setting and are a part of all relationships. You are surrounded with different personalities at home, workplace and everywhere else. No two people can be exactly the same so a conflict could even arise between the closest of friends.
In such a case, it’s important to look beyond the issue at hand and try to understand the other person’s thought process. In order to do that, you have to keep your emotions in check and identify the other person’s needs and empathize with them.
All of this is a part of effective communication.
5. Hidden Talents Can Be Discovered
When parents encourage open communication with their children, they’re more likely to discover their child’s true potential. Kids will feel more confident in expressing their interests, point of view and liking.
In the same way, when managers learn how to effectively communicate with their employees, they can identify their hidden talents. Once identified, they can take steps to tap into these skills and talents and enhance them.
As a result, everyone benefits – the employees, the organization and the business.
The 7 C’s of Effective Communication
The 7 C’s or the 7 principles of communication can help you improve both your written and oral communication whether at work, home or anywhere else.
Your message should be exact, appropriate and should demonstrate clarity of thoughts. Short sentences and concrete words can help you achieve it. Don’t try to use fuzzy language, complex sentences or achieve too much at once. As a result your audience will receive a clear message.
Complete communication helps in persuading the audience by leaving no questions in their mind. Hence, you should provide all necessary information and facts required by your audience to aid better decision making.
Make your messages specific, brief and to the point. Avoid the use of irrelevant information or needless words in your communication. It will save your time as well as your receiver’s and the message will be more appealing to the receivers.
Choose words that show exactly what you mean and avoid your message being misinterpreted. You can do this by supporting your points with factual data and examples so that nothing is left to the imagination.
Effective communication should be free of errors related to grammar, spelling, facts and figures etc. It has a greater impact on the audience and helps to build your credibility. When speaking, take a moment to think through your message. For written communication, always proofread your message!
It’s important to relate to your audience and consider their viewpoints, emotions, mindset, circumstances, background etc. Focus more on the “you” approach. Additionally, highlight benefits for your audience.
Being polite and thoughtful is crucial to be an effective communicator. Courtesy can help you build a positive image for yourself so that you’re more likely to achieve your desired outcome. Your communication style should be respectful and free of any bias.
7 Things That Are Stopping You from Communicating Effectively
1. Lack of Focus
If you’re communicating in the middle of doing ten other things, you are sure to miss important non verbal cues and points. Constantly checking your phone, daydreaming or watching TV while talking, are some of the easiest ways for losing your listener and also the purpose of your conversation.
2. Unchecked Emotions and Stress
When you’re overwhelmed with stress, anger, disappointment or even happiness, you’re more likely to misinterpret people, convey a false message and send off-putting signals. To avoid misunderstanding, it’s advisable to keep your emotions under control and calm yourself before continuing with the conversation.
3. Failing to Listen
Communication is never a one way process. As much as it’s important to know how to express yourself, being an attentive listener is equally important. If you only speak and don’t give the other person a chance to express themselves, it’s bound to result in resentment and misunderstanding.
Moreover, listening doesn’t just mean letting the other person talk. It’s about how well you’re able to relate to their point of view and understand where they’re coming from.
4. Too Much Filler Information
The more unnecessary information you add while speaking, the higher the chance your listener will miss your point or misinterpret it. Therefore, be very specific and stick to relevant details when you’re in a conversation. This is especially important during work meetings and presentations.
5. Not Paying Attention to the Other Person
Playing with your devices, looking away or just disregarding the other person’s feelings and thoughts are some of the ways to make them feel unimportant.
Not only that, it also goes to show that the person is impolite and their communication skills are extremely poor.
6. Inconsistent Body Language
Nonverbal signals are important in reinforcing what’s being said. If you agree with something but your body language says something else, the listener will likely feel that you’re not being honest.
7. Being Passive Aggressive
If you’re feeling angry, frustrated or disappointed but you don’t speak up honestly, you will only create more problems. Passive aggressive behaviors such as sarcasm, smiling when angry, denying there’s a problem etc. kill the purpose of communication and ruins relationships.
10 Ways to Develop Effective Communication Skills
1. Learn to Be an Active Listener
Effective communication is more about listening than talking. Also, being an engaged listener and simply hearing the other person speak are two different things.
When communicating, we often start issuing messages from our end without really paying attention the response. Moreover, we don’t really give much thought to what the other person is saying, rather we start planning our replies.
Engaged or active listening allows you to recognize and appreciate the other person’s feelings and emotions. Your intention should be to fully understand and connect with the person in order to have more fruitful interactions.
Good listeners also clarify and confirm what the other person has said rather than jumping to conclusions. They also try to set aside judgment, blame and unnecessary criticism so that the other person feels comfortable.
Another thing to remember as an engaged listener is to not interrupt when the other person is speaking or redirecting the conversation to just your own concerns.
2. Understand Non Verbal Communication
Much of a message is put across via non verbal communication. The way you look, move, and react to another person tell them more about your feelings rather than your words. That means you have to pay attention to both delivering and reading nonverbal cues.
Learning the ability to understand and use non verbal communication can help you express what you really mean. Accordingly, you form better connection with people at work and home.
This includes facial expressions, body movements, gestures and posture, eye contact, tone of voice and even your muscle tension and breathing.
Be consistent with your body language for example, sitting or standing with crossed arms or shaking your head tell the other person that you’re either uncomfortable or not really on the same page as them.
A slight smile, firm handshake, straight posture and eye contact are very effective in demonstrating confidence and assertiveness. You should also adjust the tone of your voice according to the context and setting. For example you should sound louder and authoritative when delivering a presentation as compared to a lighter tone when meeting with a client.
When reading body language signals, it’s important to take into account the differences in age, culture, religion and emotional state.
3. Keep Your Calm
Too often, we find ourselves in a regretful situation after saying something wrong during a disagreement with our partners, friends, kids, and coworkers. Similarly, an important job interview, a business presentation or a crucial meeting can get on our nerves and we have to communicate under pressure.
Being aware of our own and other people’s emotions is called emotional intelligence and it’s a very important part of effective communication.
When communicating under pressure don’t rush to respond. Take time to think, ask for questions to be repeated or clarify a statement before you speak. Make one point at a time followed by relevant information or examples instead of confusing the listener with disconnected thoughts. Speak clearly, maintain an even tone and eye contact.
During a disagreement, when the conversation starts to get heated you have to bring down the emotional intensity. If you’re feeling too stressed at that moment, you should consider postponing the conversation.
Alternatively, you can use some quick stress relieving activities like taking a few deep breaths, squeezing a stress ball or popping a mint. Besides that you can find ways to lighten the conversation if possible. Sensible humor is a good way to diffuse a negative situation.
Most importantly, be willing to compromise in such situations. Think in a long term manner and be sure that your relationship is more important than the issue at hand.
4. Make Clarifications as and When Needed
During conversations, you shouldn’t just keep nodding silently. Asking questions, clarifications and repeating the other person’s last few words not only shows that you’re interested in what they’re saying but it’s also important to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation.
Questioning is a crucial skill that helps you engage in effective communication. It’s a great way of obtaining more detailed information, gaining greater clarity and to keep the conversation going. People who are good with questioning skills are also better listeners as they take out more information from the other person rather than just broadcasting their opinions.
Moreover, questioning and clarifying things helps in initiating small talk, avoid awkward silences and increase the bonding between the parties involved. So instead of talking about overdone topics like the weather, ask interesting questions about the other person’s interests and plans and then in their answers.
5. Tailor Your Message According to Your Audience
As a communicator, you should master the skill of customizing your message based on whom you’re talking to. You should adopt varying communication styles when talking to your coworkers, boss, your spouse, kids, friends and elders.
Always keep the other person’s perspective in mind when trying to convey a message and express yourself. It’s wise to gauge the other person’s attitude, make any necessary changes in your message and then deliver it.
Additionally you should keep in mind that you have to keep changing your communication behaviors with respect to your audience. It’s okay to use informal language, slang and acronyms when talking to your friends or close coworkers, but definitely not with your boss or college professors.
6. Avoid Distractions
Checking your messages or email while in a meeting or when another is talking to you looks pretty rude. It gives the other person the feeling that they aren’t important. Consequently, they might feel like ending the conversation or not provide detailed information. Moreover, you will also miss important messages if your mind is present somewhere else.
Avoid the use of technology and keep all distractions away unless it’s something absolutely necessary. Making an effort to give your full attention to the other person can significantly improve your communication with each other.
7. Be Assertive
Being assertive means standing up for yourself by expressing your feelings, thoughts and needs in an open, clear and honest way, while giving others due respect. It helps in building your self esteem, integrity and also improves your decision making.
You should value your own ideas in order to convey them effectively to others. At the same time, you should take feedback positively and learn how and when to say no.
However, assertion doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive, hostile, or disrespectful. Effective communication is not about being selfish, fighting to win arguments or forcing your opinions on others.
8. Don’t Differentiate Among People
Discrimination of any kind is never taken well no matter what the situation is. The same applies to communication. Avoid differentiating people when you’re talking to a group. Don’t make any favorites, talk people down or take someone’s side.
When you treat everyone equally and with respect, you are more likely to build trust and your message will be understood better.
9. Choose the Right Medium of Communication
A wide variety of communication mediums exist from talking face to face to phone calls, emails, text messages and many others. Thus, it’s important to select the right medium for the right, message.
For example, when talking about serious matters like layoffs at work or a family dispute, it’s more appropriate to communicate in person rather than sending emails or making phone calls.
10. Show Empathy
Empathy is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Demonstrate the ability to identify others’ feelings, thoughts and experiences in your communications. By doing so, you’ll be able to strengthen your relationship and comprehend the unspoken aspects of communication.
You can try being empathetic by being an active listener, letting the other person start first and making sure that you understand the other person’s point before you begin with yours.
So take note of these communication essentials and learn to become an effective communicator.