How to Develop Excellent Communication Skills

Communication skills are a pre-requisite for success in many professions and avenues of life. They help you develop great relationships at work and elsewhere. Here are some useful tips to guide you in polishing your ability to communicate.

When you communicate with a person, there are three elements at play. A sender, a receiver and a message are integral components of any act of communication. The process involves the transfer of a message (signal) from a sender to a receiver. The transfer can be done in a number of different methods including writing, speech and nonverbal cues.

In many situations, it takes courage to say what you think. Trust yourself and believe that you have something of worth to contribute to the conversation. To communicate your feelings and opinions to others with clarity, you need to be aware of them. Some people feel hesitant because they fear that what they think may not be a worthwhile contribution to the conversation.  Keep in mind that what someone considers worthwhile may not hold the same value to another. It is all relative.

Communication is a skill that we develop over time. It does not grow all by itself. Start with small and simple interactions and work your way from there. Practice communication every day in social and professional settings. It takes a lot of time to polish a skill but it is well worth the investment.

Lack of self-confidence may cause some people to avoid direct eye contact with their interlocutor. This avoidance could make the communication less effective. Whether you are speaking or listening, you should always maintain eye contact with the person you are communicating with. It shows that you are interested in what they have to say and calls for further interaction.

Communication is partly verbal, partly non-verbal. The conscious use of non-verbal cues and gestures reinforces the message you are trying to get across and makes you a more convincing communicator. It is important that you keep your gestures and talk natural. If your facial expressions are out of sync with your words, you may get confused responses from your audience. This will produce a mixed message which is quite ineffective.

Keep an eye on your body language. Your body communicates as well. The posture you assume and the stance you take tell a lot about you.

When communicating with others, the attitude you have can make all the difference in the outcome of the communication act. Decide to communicate honestly, sincerely, patiently and with optimism. Show respect and acceptance of others. Don’t underestimate other people or their competence. Be sensitive to their feelings.

Listening is a communication skill that many people overlook. They unwittingly assume that improving their communication skills has to do only with their ability to speak and affect people. A good listener is able to soak in what the interlocutor is saying and grasp the meaning. Do make an effort to listen for the sake of understanding and not just to prepare your response. Stephen Covey put it this way: “seek first to understand and then be understood.”