What initially started off as a sign language, eventually transformed into words and sentences, by which humans could communicate their thoughts and feelings. And in today’s competitive world, where everyone is vying for success and fame, the people who possess excellent communication skills, always stand out. After all, who doesn’t want to listen to a persuasive communicator?!
I remember, how, as children, we were always asked by our teachers to participate in debates, speeches, MUNs, plays, so we could fine-tune our communication skills because people who master this art in their formative years turn out to be great, successful leaders in future. They come across as confident and influential to everyone around them. That said, we are all capable of becoming good communicators, provided, we push ourselves a little, get the right guidance, and implement it earnestly.
Communication is an active process of giving and receiving ideas, thoughts, and feelings via a written or verbal medium. Communication is incomplete in its truest sense if either the recipient or the speaker is unable to convey his/her ideas most adequately. Hence, there arises the importance of communication that transcends all the barriers and is effective in nature.
Listening, speaking, reading, and writing is the key communication skills that you should strive to master. Let me give you a quick rundown on how you can communicate in the best possible way and leave an indelible impression on others in the room.
TIPS FOR IMPROVING COMMUNICATION SKILLS:
1.) Listen attentively: The importance of careful, non-judgemental, patient listening cannot be stressed enough. Many a time, we listen to what we want to listen (selective attention), and not to what the other person wants to say. Sometimes we are so engrossed in our own imaginary worlds that we don’t bother to listen at all to what others have to offer. This creates a lot of misunderstandings that drive people apart. When you listen attentively, you imbibe some new ideas and reassure the speaker that he/she is being listened to and valued, thereby fostering better relationships. So, it’s important to focus on empathetic listening, that is, try to look at things from the speaker’s perspective instead of your own.
2.) Work on your Non-verbal communication: According to research by Salesforce, 93% of communication is non-verbal. Nonverbal communication is an umbrella term that encompasses facial expressions, body posture, eye contact, gestures, hand movements, tone of voice, etc. Let me quickly explain this by giving an example.
Example: You are a speaker at a conference. You are standing in a slouched posture while giving your presentation. Your content is outstanding but, when you start speaking, you are fumbling and are not making eye contact with the others, thereby coming across as a nervous wreck to your counterparts. This will make the audience easily lose interest.
So, now you know that working on your non-verbal cues is half-work done. Your non-verbal communication plays the most important role in how others perceive you as a communicator.
P.S. Don’t use hands too much while communicating. It can be distracting.
3.) Prepare your speech well in advance: Many of the flaws while communicating stem from unpreparedness. Weird as it sounds, it’s important to have a mental frame of what you’re going to speak in front of the others in case you have an important presentation or discussion so that those long, unwanted pauses don’t creep in. For that, you need to structure your speech and prepare the draft. It’ll clear up your mental cobwebs, give you logical clarity, and make your work a lot easier for the time when you have to deliver the actual speech. If need be, you can rehearse or give your mock speech in front of the mirror.
4.) Ask for feedback: Sometimes, a feedback from a trusted person is all you need to improve your communication. Once you know what the loophole is, work towards improving it. So, make sure to regularly solicit feedback from your trusted ones.
5.) Engage the audience: No matter how interesting your content is, you can’t hold everybody’s attention for long unless you find ways of engaging the audience. Read the room and try to do away with the drabness. Ask questions from the audience, encourage them to put up questions for you. Engage them in brainstorming sessions, or do some activity with them. Also, use some interesting anecdotal references that the audience can relate to. People really like to listen to the speaker who talks about relatable stuff. Give some real-life examples too. It’s a known fact that the references to real-life examples always draw people’s attention. So, try to make your presentation as interesting and relatable as you can because the ultimate goal is to see the audience’s smiling faces in the end 🙂
THE BOTTOM LINE:
We often tend to overlook these aspects and fail to understand the very essence of communication. The above-mentioned skills are a thumbnail sketch to guide you in the right direction. These are quintessential if you want to succeed in the workplace as well as in your personal lives. These skills cannot be acquired overnight. One needs to persistently and assiduously work for and towards becoming a powerful communicator, as they say, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
I would like to introduce the concept of Mental Models here. It will not only aid you in communication with others but also bring clarity your mind. It’ll help you think better and make rational decisions.