“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn
Communication is key to navigating life’s many challenges. Everyone should know how to communicate effectively, from romantic relationships to friendships to work situations. Not everyone is the best at communicating. This is because communication is a skill that needs to be developed and practiced.
If you find you’re a little lacking in the communication department, have no fear. Developing a few simple habits can help you become a better communicator. Here are some of the best ways to learn and foster your communication skills.
Here Are 5 Habits That Give You Better Communication Skills
1. Start asking questions
Communication is about listening just as much as it is about talking. When someone is speaking, you want to take note of what they’re saying. No, you don’t need a clipboard or a notebook and pen. A good way to do this is to ask questions about what the other person is saying. Of course, you don’t want to bombard them with questions about every detail of what they’re saying. At the same time, when you identify parts of the conversation you want to know more about and ask follow up questions, you are on the way to better communication.
2. Say what you mean and mean what you say
Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S, says that having a more precise vocabulary will help you improve your communication skills. You want to make sure you’re not leaving room for misinterpretation when you speak. Two good rules to stand by are: don’t say things that you think other people want to hear, and don’t say things that you don’t want to stand behind. Part of having good communication skills is saying what you mean and meaning what you say. You will be able to communicate your ideas much more clearly when you use precise language and don’t waffle on what you mean.
3. Use your body language
Body language is an amazing tool when it comes to communication. Thankfully, our bodies are usually pretty good at communicating on their own. Still, if you want to have better communication skills, you should have an idea of what types of body language will help you express yourself clearly. For example, try to avoid crossing your arms when talking. This can make you seem very closed off, and not open to new ideas. Another way to use body language is to subtly copy the person with whom you’re speaking. It helps put the other person at ease and develop a rapport.
You really want to actively listen when other people talk. Listening is key when it comes to becoming a better communicator. Don’t just wait for your turn to talk. A lot of people confuse “listening” with “hearing.” Sure, you hear what another person is saying, but are you taking in what’s being said? What is the emotional state of the person talking? Can you tell the things they’re not saying, despite what they are saying? It’s important to learn how to listen if you want to improve your communication skills. After all, you need to be able to respond accurately in order to communicate in the first place.
5. Acknowledge first; speak second
When it comes to communicating, a good communicator always knows to acknowledge what has just been said before taking the opportunity to speak. For example, you can simply say, “Yes, I hear what you’re saying…” And then go on to speak. Better yet, acknowledge specific parts of what the other person has said to show that you’ve been utilizing your listening skills. “I understand that…” or, “So, what you’re saying is…” are good phrases to practice when it comes to this part of communicating.