Five Simple Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills
Being able to communicate effectively is key to maintaining good relationships at home and at work. Consider these five ways to improve your communication skills.
1. Listen as much as you talk.
Communication involves more than just talking. Of course, when you are talking, the other person is listening. But if you stop listening while focusing on what you are going to say next, you break down this loop and make the conversation less effective. Focus on what the other person is saying. If you have trouble doing this, try mirroring their statements before you launch into your own. For example, you can reply, “You are saying that we need to have a schedule for taking out the trash” instead of just jumping in with reasons why the idea won’t work.
2. Don’t multitask.
In our over-connected world, it is tempting to check messages, surf the Internet, or even watch television when someone is trying to talk to you. To improve your communication, keep your multitasking to a minimum. Turn off the television and radio, put down the phone, and walk away from the computer.
3. Clarify often.
If you are confused by what the other person is saying, don’t just forge ahead with the conversation. State that you need more information or clarification before jumping to conclusions. Ask questions if you need to or restate some of the other person’s arguments.
4. Watch body language.
Instead of being a passive listener, watch for clues in body language to try to further understand. Someone who is frustrated or bored will often convey this using body language clues. Also watch yourself. You may find that you are displaying body language or a tone that goes against what you are trying to convey.
5. Handle those difficult situations.
If you find that your discussion is accelerating into an attack or is getting heated, it may be best to take a short break. Respond more slowly with some extra thought and look for common ground to get back on track.
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