The key in any successful relationship is possessing the ability to communicate. This applies to all relationships – from our families to our friends, to work and other professional settings. Communication skills are essential in all walks of life. Below are ten basic tips on How To Improve Communication Skills that you can build on.
1. Let the person who is talking finish what they are saying before you speak. First things first because this one is super important! If you speak before they have had their say then you could miss a valuable point. Likewise, if you break into their conversation it also shows that you think what you have to say matters more than what they are saying. Not only is it bad manners but it causes you to lose clout with the other person.
2. Likewise, listen attentively to what the other person is saying. If you are thinking about how you are going to reply or what you want to say next, then your attention is really not focused on the person you should be listening to. Planning your response is means you have only “half-listened” and that you have also make assumptions. You will usually miss what the other person is really saying.
3. Stay focused on the here and now. This is a good one for when you communicate with people on an ongoing basis, such as a spouse or other family member. Bringing up past issues of contention, however related they may seem, is usually only going to be detrimental to the conversation resulting in a flair up of upsetting emotions and be detrimental to the overall progress of the conversation. By bringing up things from the past, it makes the present issues you are discussing more difficult and more confusing.
4. Don’t blow things out of proportion. Avoid starting sentences with “you always” or “you never.” There are very few things people “always” or “never” do and we are usually wrong when we make such generalizations. Further, these phrases are accusatory and when we are accusatory, we immediately cause the other person to become defensive.
5. Really listen. It is so easy to drift away with thoughts of your own. This is especially true if you do not agree with what the other person is saying to you. But really listen and hear what the other person is saying.
6. Give A Little. Instead of trying to “win” an argument or be right on all points, think of where you can compromise to appease the other person. If you give a little, they are likely to back down and give a little as well. Oftentimes people find themselves in disagreement and it turns into a battle just for the sake of battling, but when this occurs there is never a winner.
7. Take a break. If you cannot come to a reasonable agreement in a conversation when at odds, taking a break is a great idea! It allows both people to cool down and reflect on thoughts before communicating again. Time has a way with creating more reasonable thinking. During the break, take your mind off the subject matter momentarily. Then, when you think about it again, think of things in terms of how you can be solution-oriented.
8. Count to Ten. Similar to #7 above, take a minibreak by counting to 10 if you become emotional. When we get emotional there is a part of our rational brain that literally turns off and does not work. If you take a deep break and slowly count to 10, you will reengage that rational part of the brain helping you to stay calm, focus and think clearer.
9. Acknowledge. When it comes to more specific conversations, be sure to acknowledge and repeat back in summary form what the other person has said. Then ask if you got it right and listen for their response. Do this again and again til you have it right and you really do understand what they are saying to you.
10. Refrain from Judgment. Even if you don’t like what other person is saying be respectful of their opinion and do listen. Everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how wrong or off we might think it may be.
11. Take Responsibility. Taking responsibility for our own “stuff” or admitting a mistake can work wonders when communicating. The simple words of “I’m sorry” can have an amazing effect on the overall tone and direction of the conversation.