Do you want to develop the ability to communicate clearly and accurately, so that your audience can fully understand you? Do you want to know how to build instant rapport when you speak to people? Listen to this – developing your communication skills will help you in every aspect of your life, both in your private, in your professional life and everything in-between.
Note that this series is available in multiple formats, depending on how you prefer it. At your convenience, you can check it out on our YouTube channel or as a podcast (Self-improvement Podcast) wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.
Good Communication Skills
In the last episode of this podcast, we talked about why you should learn about good communication skills and that was an interesting topic on our monthly communication series. Let’s expand on that today by learning how to improve our skills.
First thing first, reflect upon your own communication style. How would you like to engage the people in your life and in the business arena? These are going to be very important for you as you go about your experiential exercises to further develop your communication skills.
We have all come to understand that better communication skills are the fundamental requisites for success in many aspects of our lives. So, let’s find out how to do that, how to keep on refining our tools so we can claim our rightful position in the marketplace.
Develop Effective Communication Skills
By now, you would have understood that what we are talking about in this series is not just communication, but effective communication. And learning how to improve your communication has many benefits to you, personally and professionally. However, many people find it very difficult to know where to start from and this is what we are going to be considering shortly.
A couple of years ago, The Conference Board of Canada, an independent and nonprofits research organization, developed the Employability Skills, which lists the important skills employees of different industries need to possess in other to succeed in their respective workplaces. In that list, communication skill was on top; meaning communication was considered a fundamental requirement to succeed in workplaces.
Now, I am going to make a shortlist. It’s not that the other communication skills are not important, but here, there are mainly four areas we need to develop to get a better result in today’s workplaces and they are:
- Emotional intelligence and
Ok. Let’s see these vital communication skills, one after the other and how we can develop them in our everyday life.
Friendliness as a Communication skill
Friendliness simply means the quality of been friendly. It’s an important skill you need to develop to make you appear to people like an open and warm person to deal with. I know that a lot of people might enjoy saying that they are bold and therefore do not need to take any nonsense from anyone.
Well, that might be ok at a point, but if you allow an overstated ego to come between you and the people you are dealing with, there will be consequences.
One disadvantage of overpricing yourself is that you will find that many people will tend to avoid you for not wanting to offend you because you are too far beyond their reach. And that can quickly translate into several setbacks on your road, especially in today’s service-based economy where an interpersonal relationship is the name of the game.
The good news is that even if you are not a very friendly person, because some of us are not, depending on the experiences we have had in the past, you can develop the skill. It is called a skill for this purpose.
To develop your friendliness as a communication skill, start by practising openness. Start by being less judgmental to people and try to see the good in people. There are a lot of good things about people even among those who might sometimes appear bad or behave badly to you.
Remember that you will always deal with people. If you are in business, you are going to talk to people you have never met before and that means they come with their own different characters, some of which might not particularly be appealing to you. But this is the point – you are going to deal with it, overlooking their shortcomings so you get a better result from the communication.
Learning to be friendly and open-minded to different people, including those you might not agree with their personal philosophies is advantageous to you. It will help you whether you are in your workplace or in a social environment. Think about that.
The Art of Clarity in Communication
With all simplicity, good communication should be a meaningful exchange of information between two or more parties, and for your message to be well understood, it needs to be clear and concise to the point.
This is a very important skill of communication to learn in today’s social life with a lot of fusing and confusion information all over the places.
At one time, there was a lack of information or the ability to collate and analyze them, but today, we have tonnes and tonnes of information, reaching us from different places and through different devices. What this implies is that the ability to be precise, to be straight to the point and be really clear in our communication is such an important skill we cannot afford to ignore today.
Do people understand you when you talk? You really need to ask yourself that question.
In the first month of this year, in the very first discussion on soft skills, I gave an instance of a person who wanted a task to be executed by his collaborators, but he went there and communicated only half of what he really wanted and therefore did not get the job done as expected.
That is what happens when you are not clear enough about your communication. And like the other skills, we have talked about in communication so far, lack of clarity can be very costly depending on the situation.
On this, I remember mentioning on the third week of last month how NASA, lost a spacecraft worth millions of dollars for a simple communication error. So, the lack of clarity in our communication can have different consequences.
Now, how do you develop clarity in your communication? Remember that the whole purpose of communication as we have said in our previous discussion in this series is to send and receive a message. Alright, let’s consider a few tips on how we can be clearer in our communication:
Always Consider Your Audience
To be clear in your communication, and easy to be understood, you need to tailor your message to your audience. Like who is your audience, what is their level of ability to process the information you are giving to them?
One thing is to pass a message to a crowd of uneducated people who are agitating for a change, and another is to give the same identical information to a group of enlightened fellows who are protesting for the same course. You cannot address the two audiences the same way. You just cannot do that if you want to communicate effectively to your audience. I mean, if you want your message to reach the hearts and minds of the people.
What I am basically telling you here is that you really need to consider the calibre of your audience and always.
Say Exactly What You Want
Another skill you can improve for clarity in your communication is to say exactly what you want. Do not beat around the bush, especially in business communications, because as you too might have already known, considering our ever-busy time, no one really has the time to waste on your excessive play on words. If you can say it in few words, go ahead and do so. Be direct without stressing the patient of your audience. That is really important.
Ask Question Or Feedback From The Audience
One more tip for clarity before we consider another subtopic on how to improve our communication skills is to ask question or feedback from the audience. This is absolutely important. It helps you to understand if your audience is following or getting the message you are passing across.
Top-performing communicators are top-performing communicators because they consistently engage the audience and look for ways to get feedback from them. Their engagement and the feedback they received help them to build a better rapport with the audience.
You too can start practising these strategies today and you will soon discover that just like the pros, your communication will become clearer and clearer as you continue to refine your skills.
Confidence in Communication
Unlike nothing else in communication skills, confidence allows you to speak concisely and with clarity. We all listen to different speakers every now and then and we know what we feel. Am I speaking your mind?
I mean, you know those speakers who can truly inspire you and those whom you would rather not listen to even if you were forced to because they lack the confidence in their communication, not necessarily because they do not know what they are talking about. That is a different augment altogether.
For our own good, we need to build confidence in our communication because it makes a difference.
Confidence is actually said to have comes from a Latin word, fidere’, meaning, “to trust”. That means, having unwavering trust or self-confidence in what one is doing and in this case, your communication skills.
It has been demonstrated, often and again that the professionals who communicate with confidence are better able to influence their audience, against those who do not have the same level of confidence.
Now, how do we develop this all-important confidence in our communication? Let’s consider some reflections that can help.
“You must cultivate the emotional control, insight, charisma and courage to voice your ideas and respectfully champion them.”
That is a clip from the article, “6 Ways to Communicate Confidence Even if You are Nervous” by Sherrie Campbell. Campbell is a psychologist and the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person.
In her article, which you can find on Entrepreneur.com, Campbell says that it takes confidence to share your ideas in the workplace, especially if your goal is to influence and impress colleagues outside your immediate team, including those who have seniority.
Then she advised that when communicating, you should never be worried about stepping out of line. Also because it is when you manage to summon your courage and communicate your points that you will ever be able to develop more confidence in your opinions.
These things do not happen by chance. Trust me. If really you want to improve your level of confidence in communication, you can do it. But you must be prepared to pay the price, some of which is to put your face on it.
You will make a lot of mistakes, you will embarrass yourself and people will laugh at you. And if you are willing to face all that and keep on refining your level of confidence and communication skills, then there is no force in the universe that can stop you. You will surely and positively succeed because that is the only secret to it.
Apart from workplaces or in the business environment as we have often mentioned in this series on communication, having the self-confidence to communicate effectively takes you to a different dimension within your circle and in society in general. Not to mention the benefit of good communication within the family and your friends, serving as a good example for the children and becoming a role model in your industry.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand the situation around you and positively managing your responses in a way to relieve stress and remain composed. Such abilities as being able to comprehend the sensibilities of others, EQ, standing for emotional quotient or your ability to show empathize towards other people are all part of the studies of Emotional intelligence and therefore highly important in overcoming the challenges of communicating effectively.
Apart from being able to understand and deal with people in all social situations, emotional intelligence equally helps you to build better relationships and become more effective in what you do. Even personally, having a good knowledge of Emotional intelligence can be very advantageous in that it helps you to better connect with your own feelings, and use them correctly instead of been used by them.
All around us, there are many people who are not in control of their emotions. You don’t want to be one o those people. You want to be in charge of your feelings and your impulses.
Of all the different advantages of emotional intelligence, it is important to point out that it helps to strengthen your mental health, boost your performance and increases your self-awareness.
Now that have we understood the huge importance of emotional intelligence, that an emotionally intelligent person is someone who is able to channel his or her emotions correctly in order to be more productive and better engaged with other people, the next and most legitimate consideration is the development of emotional intelligence.
How do you improve this highly important life skill that can be beneficial to you both personally and professionally? Let’s consider some a few tips.
Improve Your Emotional Intelligence through Self-Assessment
Before I say anything about this first and important tip as self-assessment, I want to clarify once again that nearly all the soft skills out there, Emotional Intelligence included are all part of what we already know, growing up as children. In substance, they are not new to us, except in the new terminologies we now use to describe them.
From our childhood, our parents and the society we came from have been educating us about these skills, even though those who passed on the knowledge may not have referred to them as soft skills and in this particular case, Emotional Intelligence.
Why self-assessment is crucial is that it provides useful insight into our core behaviours and what we do. For all serious people, self-assessment should be considered a “wake-up call” because it helps you to identify the areas that require improvement so you can grow.
By taking a record of your actions, you come to better understand what triggers your key points? What increases your anxiety? And knowing these you are better equipped to strengthen your emotion and increase your chances for more effective results. So, I suggest you give your self-assessment real consideration.
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
By now, you know as much as I do that we all make mistakes all the time. Now, the point is if you make a mistake, own up to it. Take responsibility for it and grow. By taking responsibility for your actions, you not only learn from them but you also have more time to concentrate on yourself, as against spending valuable time to blame other people and justifying the blames with whatever you might consider reasonable excuses.
That is an awful waste of time and a demonstration that you are not mature enough and definitely not in charge of yourself.
If you stop pointing accusing fingers at other people, you will see your own faults and weaknesses and then work to improve on them. That is the only way you can grow. Another thing you can do to improve your emotional intelligence is through self-control. As a matter of maturity, we all must learn to control ourselves.
According to different Psychologists, self-control is typically defined as the ability of one to control his or her behaviours in order to avoid temptations and to achieve set goals. Our lives are full of temptations and compromising situations. That we do not jump into every unwanted situation even though that might appear appealing on the surface is a sign that we are mature and we know what we doing.
You don’t want to have the reputation of been seen as a fluctuating fellow who falls before any shining offer. You need to have some restrains; that is what makes you stand out from the crowd so that when you talk people will listen and take your words for it.
That is where we will end today’s conversation and I hope you have gotten some value from it. Subscribe to our Mailing List to be notified of our next publication and don’t forget to leave your comment below. I remain Obehi Ewanfoh and talk to you soon
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