Effective communication is a fundamental skill in both personal relationships and the business world. Improving both written and verbal communication skills is essential to success in the workplace, as you will use these skills every day on the job. The benefits of effective communication skills are plentiful, and there are a few key components of effective communication that are important to keep in mind. Below are just some of the ways you can improve your communication skills.
Be Mindful of Your Body Language
What you don’t say can be just as important as what you do say. Mastering the art of body language can help you make the most of your conversations, interviews and presentations. Tips for improving your nonverbal communication skills include the following:
- Try to hold yourself in an open posture so as not to appear closed off, defensive or unconfident.
- Maintain an appropriate level of eye contact, but be careful not to overdo it.
- Face the person you’re speaking with and be mindful of your posture.
Learning to interpret the body language of others can be equally valuable. One of the biggest potential pitfalls of a conversation is failing to read what a person is trying to say with their body.
Practice Active Listening
Listening is just as crucial to good communication as expressing yourself is. Great listeners not only make sure they understand what the other person said, but they make it very clear to their conversation partner that they are being heard. Tips for improving your active listening skills include the following:
- Don’t interrupt.
- If you find yourself having trouble understanding what the other person is telling you, ask for clarification.
- Never be afraid to ask questions: Not only does this avoid miscommunication, but the other person will feel all the more heard and valued.
- Nod your head to show that you’re listening.
Remember — conversations are a two-way street. When it is not your turn to talk, make sure you are really absorbing what the other person is saying rather than focusing on what you want to say next. Also, be sure not to be distracted by other conversations or stimuli and give the person your undivided attention.
Communicate with Empathy
A key component to becoming an effective listener and communicator is developing empathy. Being empathic allows you to consider the other person’s point of view without being judgmental or dismissive. Expressing empathy and recognizing the validity of differing points of view are essential to resolving conflicts, whether in one’s personal life or the workplace. Tips for communicating with empathy include:
- Set a positive tone.
- Admit when you’re wrong, and try to find common ground.
- Be mindful of the other person’s perspective.
People who communicate with empathy understand that conflicts do not have to become arguments; if every person feels that their point of view is being heard and respected, all parties can work together to compromise on a solution that works for everyone. If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your communication skills, learning to communicate with empathy is a crucial step.
When it comes time for you to speak, make sure to do it clearly and simply. Jargon, slang and overly technical language complicate communication. Other tips for speaking succinctly include the following:
- Avoid “fillers” like “um” and “like.”
- Take time to think about what you want to say before you speak.
- Don’t be afraid of pauses. Most pauses in conversation sound much more natural to the listener than they do to the speaker.
Additionally, be sure to treat everyone you speak to with equal consideration and respect, but tailor a presentation, conversation or negotiation to your audience. For example, informal language, texting acronyms or slang terms are appropriate for a casual conversation with friends but not for a business email. Finally, always have a positive attitude and smile. A winning smile can make all the difference!
Earn an Online Master of Communication Management and Improve Your Communication Skills
Those who practice effective communication skills have proven to be highly successful in the workplace: They are masters of the art of the interview, they speak publicly with ease and they write clear and concise business letters and professional emails. If communication is of particular interest to you as an academic topic or career aspiration, you might consider a college major in communications.
A number of universities offer bachelor’s degrees in communication that can be used as a launching point for careers in business, journalism, multimedia, entertainment, technology and more. Those who are especially interested in the field can specialize further, seeking a graduate degree in the field to polish their skills. Are you ready to take the next step toward advancing your communications career? Discover how completing an online Master of Communication Management degree at USC can help prepare you for a rewarding career.
- The “7 C’s” of Communication: This list is a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their communication skills.
- Effective Communication: Tips and tricks for improving your listening, speaking, and writing skills can be found here.
- Tips for Communication Skills with Groups: Learn to communicate effectively in a group-project setting.
- Professional Communication Skills for Leaders(PDF): Find more than 500 pages of communication lessons to help you take leadership roles at work here.
- The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People: Learn six things anyone can start doing today to improve their empathy skills in the future.
- Five Steps to Develop Empathy: This article contains several tips to keep in mind in order to be a more empathetic and compassionate listener.
- Conflict Resolution Skills(PDF): This document highlights important aspects of conflict resolution and how to make sure everyone involved feels heard.
- Quickly Improve Your Ability to Make Small Talk: Some love small talk, and some hate it! This article outlines some good strategies for improving your small talk and getting more out of these conversations.
- Office Telephone Etiquette: Read about how telephone conversations can differ from in-person communication.
- Questioning Skills and Techniques: Learn how to ask the right questions and gather information more efficiently and effectively.
- Types of Listening Skills with Examples: Find out more about possibly the most important communication skill: listening.
- The Effect of Positivity and Transparency on Trust in Leaders(PDF): This study demonstrates the importance of being positive and honest in your interactions with coworkers, especially your subordinates.
- Different Communication Styles of an Audience: Learn more about the different ways people communicate with one another and how to effectively engage all types.
- What Can You Do with a Communications Degree?Explore the career possibilities with a college degree in communications.