10 Practical Things You Can Do to Improve Your Communication Skills

By Krista

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Last Updated: January 21, 2022

Tony Robbins has said,

“Communication is power. Those who have mastered its effective use can change their own experience of the world and the world’s experience of them. All behavior and feelings find their original roots in some form of communication.”

Miscommunications can quickly be the death of any relationship. And you’ve likely heard before that improving your communication is essential for healthy relationships. But how can you do that? Are there books or other tools you can use? 

In this article, we’re going to dive headfirst into interpersonal communication and how you can improve your interpersonal skills. So, let’s start with the basics.

 

What is Good Communication?

Good communication comes down to a variety of factors. And yes, it’s up to both the message-giver and receiver to make communicating effective. 

Essentially, healthy communication is the ability to communicate in a clear and honest way, helping you navigate conflict and convey your feelings, all while considering the receiver’s feelings. Yet, it’s not just about what’s being said. 

The listener should use active listening to receive the message being said. This means attentively listening to the message being conveyed and not thinking about a knee-jerk response. You want to first understand. From there, you should reflect, then respond. 

Sometimes, the response involves a simple acknowledgement. Other times it requires something a little bit more in-depth. 

When it comes down to it, being a better communicator is about improving your listening skills and improving your ability to express yourself to others. So, let’s look at how you can do all of that.

 

How to Improve Communication Skills

Interpersonal communication is called interpersonal communication because it’s taking place between two people.

Maybe you grew up in a family that was just bad at communicating or you’ve picked up some bad habits along the way. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to brush up on your communication skills and remind yourself of how to do so in a healthy and effective way.

And it’s important to again note: It’s between two people. Both parties involved have to be committed to improving communication for any relationship to work. It’s a two-way stress. 

Now, with that in mind, here are 10 ways to improve your communication:

1. Practice Active Listening

Misunderstandings are all-too-common. Yet, many of these misunderstandings could be well avoided by simply listening. And this doesn’t mean listening and responding with the first thing that pops into your head. It means actively listening.

As previously stated above, this means looking to understand the message being said, rather than just reacting. If you don’t understand after some reflection, it can help to ask questions (more on this in a bit).

Related Article: Mindful Listening: What Is It & How To Do It

2. Take Into Account WHO You’re Talking To

Is it your mom? A mentor? Your S.O.? These differences matter!

And not in the way you might think. Just because you’ve had a bad day, this doesn’t mean you have leeway to say whatever you want to your S.O. They have feelings too!

But knowing your audience can help you convey your message in a way that the other person will understand, which is, undeniably, important, when talking or trying to solve a problem with others.

3. Pay Attention to Your Body Language

If you’re speaking nicely but your arms are crossed and you’re frowning, this probably won’t come off how you intend it to. Body language matters!

In most cases, talking with your legs and arms uncrossed and maintaining a neutral expression can help navigate through and also avoid someone else from interpreting the opposite of your intention. 

4. Ask Questions

Not sure what someone else meant?

Are you making assumptions?

These are good questions to ask yourself. Then, once you have the answers, you’ll want to probe the other person. What did they mean when they said ____? Ask! Assumptions never help anyone.

5. Think Before You Talk

Many of us are very reactive creatures. And if you tend to respond without thinking, this is your sign to take a breath, acknowledge you heard the other person, and take a moment to think about your response. (This is also why it’s never best to dig into conflict in a rush.)

Thinking over what you’re going to say can help you course-correct. This means you can determine the possible outcomes, decide what you want the outcome to be, and try to make that outcome happen through the words you choose.

The same goes for text conversations or email. Always read over what you’re about to say before pressing send.

6. Be Specific

Generalized statements tend to confuse people.

Thus, the more specific the better. Instead of saying “that thing,” name the object. If you’re recalling an event, be specific about the when and where. Again, the more info, the better — at least this is true in most cases!

In some situations, being overly specific (such as during an argument) can come off as “blaming” which usually doesn’t help with reaching a solution or getting a message across. Use this one wisely!

7. Remain Positive and Optimistic

This is basically a rule for life in general. If you’ve ever heard of the law of attraction, you might know that most of the time you get what you put out into the world. If you’re giving someone rude vibes, chances are, they might be rude right back.

Going in with positivity and optimism will probably give you the same back. Try it out!

Related Article: Understanding the Law of Attraction: How Can You Attract What You Want?

8. Make Eye Contact

Eye contact is part of the whole body language side of things with good and effective communication. Yet, you don’t want to be giving too much. You want just enough to show trustworthiness and credibility. 

Generally, you want to maintain eye contact for about 50% of the time you speak, for about 4-5 seconds each time.

9. Don’t Bring Up Past Conflicts

This is mostly to do with disagreements, and you’ve probably run into this one a few times before. When has it ever helped to bring up past conflicts or disagreements? Basically never. Stick to the topic on-hand and avoid tangents. Tangents just confuse and muddle things. 

10. Use “When you ____, I feel _____” Statements

This is another great communication technique when experiencing disagreements. Use this as your template to convey your feelings without blaming the other person. Rather, this indicates that they influence how you felt but it doesn’t put full blame on them. Instead, it helps them understand.

 

Use Effective Communication Techniques

Alright, so you’ve got 10 ways to communicate better. What else is there?

Try using the 7 Cs of communication:

  • Clear
  • Correct
  • Complete
  • Concrete
  • Concise
  • Consideration
  • Courteous

Additionally, practicing empathy can go a long way. This means being able to understand and share the feelings of another. This can especially help with personal communication so that you can more clearly understand one another and avoid stepping on one another’s feelings.

 

Tools to Improve Your Communication Skills

What else can you turn to for improving your communication skills?

Try these books:

Alternatively, there are also a variety of podcasts outlining effective communication techniques. Grab little snippets each day from them and try them out in action!

 

Start Communicating Effectively Today!

Effective and good communication isn’t a secret. There are endless resources to choose from. After learning a bit more about it, the next step is taking action. Use the above tips to improve communication in the workplace and at home. Things start getting so much easier when communication is crystal clear.

Read Next: Tough Time Talking It Out? Maybe It’s Time To Learn Better Communication Skills

Photo by Jud Mackrill on Unsplash

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