5 ways to improve your communication skills

There’s a reason why we say communication is key. It’s because communication is how we connect to others. It’s how we express our thoughts, feelings and ideas to the people around us, and it’s also how we come to understand them.

Unfortunately not all of us have the ability to convey our message clearly. Still, there is good news – communication is a skill that we can all possess if we are willing to learn and practice!

So for those who are uncomfortable with communicating or often struggle to get your point across, here are 5 ways you can brush up your skills and become an effective communicator.

1. Listen

Paying attention and truly listening to someone underpins good communication. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by your own thoughts or by what’s happening around you. Listening can help your understanding and it shows respect to the speaker.

Sometimes it helps to repeat what the other person is saying: try repeating the main points or phrases of their conversation. This can help you remember the discussion later and outwardly shows the speaker you are paying attention. Remember not to talk over people or interrupt them, wait until they’ve finished speaking before responding to them.

2. Be aware of body language

The way our body is positioned when we talk to someone is a form of communication. Body language sends a message to the person we’re talking to; it can signal if we are listening or not, or show our interest.

Simple body language like eye contact can show someone respect and signify that you’re listening. Eye contact can also help you stay focused on what the person is saying. Crossed arms or looking down can sometimes make us seem unapproachable to others, and can signify an unwillingness to engage in conversation.

3. Ask questions

It’s okay to clarify! Asking questions is one of the ways we learn and improve our understanding. Poor communication and miscommunications can be a result of misunderstandings. Clarifying a point with someone can also demonstrate to others that we are listening.

4. Be brief and to the point

The best way to achieve clarity is to be concise. To ensure we are understood by others it sometimes helps to know what we are going to say before we say it. It’s best to think about the main message we want to convey and write a few short, sharp sentences that expresses this. Remember it helps to be specific!

5. Take notes

Writing things down is a good way to ensure nothing is forgotten or miscommunicated. If it’s appropriate, take notes while someone is talking (but keep good body language in mind). If unable to take notes, write the main points of discussion down straight after it happens. Taking notes can reduce instances of miscommunication and mistakes, and you avoid having to go back to the person to ask them to remind you.

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