Communication skills involve speaking, listening, writing and reading effectively. Being a good communicator is a necessary skill to succeed in the workplace. The communication process begins with the “sender” communicating to the “receiver.” The various channels of communication are:
- Face to face
- Voice to voice
- Written word
Those with poor communication skills have a higher probability of struggling in the workplace than those who are skilled communicators. This article will address how to develop good communication skills.
Ten Steps on How to Develop Good Communication Skills
Step 1: Become a Good Listener
Listening is an important factor in maintaining good communication. If you are constantly speaking and not allowing the other person in the verbal or non-verbal conversation to transmit information as well, you are not participating in productive communication. Hearing what another person is saying is not enough. You need to actually retain, understand and process that information during the communication experience.
Step 2: Maintain Good Eye Contact
It is important to maintain good eye contact while communicating with others. If you have shifty eyes—even if you’re not trying to avoid someone—you will be perceived as non-engaged in the communication process. Taking the time to fully engage with another person, by shutting off outside distractions like cell phones etc., will express to the receiver in your conversation, that you value his or her time. In addition, this person will be confident that you hope to have a productive communication experience.
Step 3: Be Personable & Friendly
Maintain open body language. Don’t cross your arms, but rather be free to gesture with your hands. Be yourself and try to interact in a friendly manner. If you are impersonal, that will be perceived in a negative way by the receiver and this person won’t feel comfortable.
Step 4: Be Specific & Not Convoluted
Having a productive conversation involves being specific rather than convoluted. Don’t waste too much time with chit chat. Know what your goals are in the conversation. Try to stay focused and don’t allow yourself to go down the rabbit trail with stream of consciousness conversation. If you get off track, quickly regroup so that the receiver knows you are not actively trying to waste his or her time.
Step 5: Focus on Contributing & Receiving
There is a fine line between contributing to and receiving from a conversation. Find that perfect balance and don’t allow yourself to become a conversation hog. No one likes to speak with someone who continues talking and doesn’t let you get a word in edge-wise. Productive communication happens when the receiver and sender, are both permitted equal speaking time.
Step 6: Be Open-Minded & Not Rigid
Go into the communication process with an open-mind. Those who are rigid and have the, I’m-right-you’re-wrong mindset, never achieve successful communication. Only frustration and annoyance follow their communication processes. Even if you disagree with the person you are speaking with, allow him or her to share a different point of view. That is part of the communication process. No one agrees all the time. That’s part of human nature. We are all individuals and should be free to express our opinions unhindered, but in a polite manner.
Step 7: Let Go of Your Ego & Be Empathetic
Don’t be what I like to call a conversational ego-maniac. I dislike speaking with such people. They are argumentative and usually dominate the conversation. Put your ego behind you and learn to become empathetic. Train yourself to listen to what the other person is actually saying.
Step 8: Read Between the Lines
Step seven directly correlates to this next step. As you are learning to be empathetic to the situations of others, you need to learn how to read between the lines. For example, if someone is telling you that they are fine, but their facial expression and body language is telling you otherwise; take the hint. You need to dig deeper to ascertain the real issue.
Step 9: Talk About Topics You Know About
This step is vital to communication, especially as it pertains to the business world. Talk about topics you know about and don’t make up facts or figures. If you don’t know something, that’s fine. Address the issue and make a point to do your research and reconvene at a future date to finish the conversation.
Step 10: Never Allow Your Conversation to End in Anger
Conversations should never erupt into arguments. This rule is important in your personal communications and is especially true in your business dealings. Arguments are not effective forms of communication and they are never productive. If you follow steps one through nine, then you have a higher probability of keeping your conversations argument free.
Resources to Assist in Developing Good Communication Skills
Now that the steps have been outlined, let’s go back to the original question in the title of this article. Do you have good communication skills? If you’d like to find out how you rate as a communicator, take this free online communication quiz from MindTools.com. Respond to the 15 statements and then find out how you rate.
Good communication skills are vital to the workplace and are a learned skill. Remember to follow the simple steps outlined in this article. Be a good listener and maintain eye contact. Always remain friendly and empathetic. Find a balance in contributing to and receiving from the conversation and Don’t allow your communication to escalate into an argument.
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