Effective communication has always been the root of successful relationships and achieving great heights in every society. Many people have swayed multitudes and succeeded in rallying nations to a particular cause simply because they wielded the powerful tool of professional communication skills. In communicating with individuals or a group of people, the issue of importance is not expressing oneself but doing so effectively and that requires proper communication skills development. The effectiveness of a person’s method of communication is therefore measured by how well the person(s) receiving the message interprets it. Hence it is important to improve communication skills in every possible area of life.
Good communication involves two important sides. There is a sender, who is the person initiating the process. Then there is a receiver who gets the message and makes sense out of it. Normally, there are other factors that may have an impact on the effectiveness of communication but for the purpose of dealing with effective communication from a personal standpoint, we will take just personal issues into consideration and look at what you can do as a person to attain excellent communication skills.
Know your Audience
We have to communicate with different people at different times in life. At a certain time, you may be communicating with elderly people and at other times with those who are much younger than yourself. You will also have to communicate with classmates, colleagues or strangers. Excellent Communication skills development requires that you know your audience. One cannot properly improve communication skills if they do not keep this principle in mind.
All these different people hardly have the same method of communication. Though you may not need to possess professional communication skills to pass across information to all of them, you will have to at least possess some basic knowledge. Talking to children for example will require that you use a lot of stories and imagery. Your tone of voice has to be soft and your manner of speaking almost playful. That is just the way children are and this helps them better connect with you and relate with the message.
Communicating with adults on the other hand will demand that you sound and act more serious, even if what you are saying is meant to be funny and taken lightly, you still can’t say it the same way you will talk to children. When it comes to the elderly, the style of communication is yet different. When talking to old people, you have to be patient and speak rather gently. You also have to be relatively brief because like children and unlike younger adults, old people have a shorter attention span.
So your audience should determine your communication style if you must improve communication skills and have good communication. You must be flexible and learn to apply each style of communication with the audience. Sometimes you have to speak with people who are at different emotional states. Maybe you have to encourage some people recovering from some form of calamity or a group of persons at a funeral. You definitely should not speak to them the same way you will talk to some excited youths at a game. Let your audience determine your style and method of communication if you must communicate effectively.
Listen to and watch your audience carefully and attentively
As far as good communication is concerned, you must be just as good at listening as you are at talking. Listening on its own is one of those aspects of professional communication skills you will have to get really good at. Just like you want to have and keep the attention of your audience, you must also assure them of your attention. When talking with an individual, make sure you maintain eye contact. Maintaining eye contact is an important nonverbal way of telling the other person that you are not just listening to them but are interested in what they are saying. This is one reason why being able to listen effectively is important for excellent communication skills development.
This makes them more open and willing to speak freely. It also opens then up to listen to you when you speak in response because they are assured that you are responding from the understanding you have since you were paying attention to them. Another smart way to enhance good communication and assure the other person(s) that you are listen to them is to nod your head. Nodding from time to time, especially when the person makes a point lets them know that you are following up on what they are saying and actually understanding them.
In the case where you are speaking to a group of people, make eye contact with different people at different points in time so that every person feels involved and gets the impression that you are talking to them personally. Another important technique when talking to a group of people while standing is to move from one point of the stage to another frequently. This keeps them focused on you and increases their attention span by keeping their heads and eyes moving from time to time.
Get more familiar with your language
Verbal communication and professional communication skills development basically require speaking a language and doing so properly. Whatever language you are using to speak to people, becoming more skilled at communicating demands that you get more familiar with that language. Don’t assume that you know the pronunciation of words you are not familiar with, especially if you are still getting acquainted with the language in question. There are certain words in English and every other language which if pronounced wrongly will mean something entirely different. Check up any complicated words you may have to use and become familiar with its spelling and pronunciation.
For languages which are somehow related and have some phrases and words borrowed and adopted, there is a tendency to misuse or mispronounce such words. A word like rendezvous is actually borrowed from the French language and freely used by English speakers. But some of them pronounce it “roundevous” and this could lead to misinterpretations.
Familiarity with language is especially important when it comes to written communication because it actually becomes even more complicated. It is also essential to become more versed with any particular language you use frequent in order to improve communication skills.
In English for example there are words called Homonyms which are pronounced and spelt the same but have different meanings. Whether writing or speaking, make sure the context in which you are using such words is clear because your audience interprets phrases or sentences with such words based on the context in which they are used. If the context is unclear, the entire sentence will not be communicated effectively.
Be crystal clear
Clarity of speech is essential to effective communication. Practice clear speaking. Learn how to speak loud and express yourself clearly. There are people who find it difficult speaking aloud or pronouncing words clearly when they communicate. There are several reasons for such issues including anxiety and stage fright but whatever the cause, practice and good communication skills development will definitely help you improve if you are one of those who face such issues.
However, making oneself clear is not always about tone of voice or manner of presentation. Sometimes it is about making sure that your audience have the same interpretation of what you are saying as you want them to. One way you can attain this is by asking follow-up questions or watching their facial expressions. You can know if your message is clear enough by paying attention to your audience’s facial expressions and response. Lastly avoid using high sounding words which may seem unclear or easily misinterpreted.
Communication and body language
Body language, like eye contact is another important aspect of professional communication skills. You must be conscious of and make use of your body language to communicate more effectively. For one thing, when you talk with people, they normally pay attention beyond what you say to how you behave. Crime investigators for example can easily tell if a person is lying or telling the truth by watching their body language. Hand positions, movement of the browse, mouth and several others send cues which often contradict or complement whatever a person may be saying.
You don’t want to be misinterpreted when you communicate especially while in an investigation room. In such a situation, you may avoid eye contact because you are naturally shy and introverted. But in the present circumstance, that will be interpreted to mean you have something to hide or are not telling the truth. Learn to master your body language and synchronize it with what you may be saying verbally.
Understanding body language is also important to knowing whether or not your audiences are getting the right interpretation of what you say. Learn to use your body language properly and strive to be more accurate at interpreting the body language of others.
Tone of Voice
Again with verbal communication, your tone of voice is very important. It communicates mood and tells how serious the subject you are speaking on is. The tone of voice you use to discuss with your children or spouse cannot be the same you use to present a project proposal at work. A low tone of voice may communicate triviality of the issue or that you are bored or even that you are being secretive. An overly loud tone of voice on the other hand has the tendency of communicating disrespect in certain circumstances. People who also speak too loud and firm may sometimes be thought of as angry. When you want to be taken serious, you can simply communicate by sounding firm and appropriately loud in your tone of voice. Generally, in order for you to gain excellent communication skills, you have use your tone of voice wisely when you communicate.
Think about what you are going to say before you let it out
Since people always have a tendency to interpret messages differently, and sometimes wrongly, it is important for the person sending a message to carefully consider what they are about to say before saying it. Make sure you are using the right words and the appropriate tone of voice. You can never take your words back once they have been spoken. You can apologize for them and be forgiven but you cannot unsay what has already been said. Make sure your statements and every word in them really express what you have in mind, don’t make any assumptions.
Use appropriate Communication methods
Though most times we use verbal communication, it is not always the best or most effective way of communicating. There are different methods of communication that will suit different situations and circumstances. Use nonverbal communication forms when necessary and bear in mind that even silence in some circumstances speak more loudly and effectively than the most intelligent speeches.
Expressing emotions and effective communication
Mood and expression of emotion are sometimes the most effective ways of communicating. Whenever you talk to a person or group of people, try to ensure that you express appropriate emotions if you want to communicate effectively. It will be awkward for example, to show signs of happiness by smiling when talking to people at a funeral.
A person’s facial expression is closely linked to and sometimes regarded as part of body language. However, I decided we look at its importance to effective communication differently. Facial expressions on their own speak tons. Raised eyebrows for surprise, lowered eyebrows for disappointment, twisted eyebrows for anger, raised cheeks for happiness and so on. Like other body language signals, communicating effectively requires that you make sure what you are saying is not contradicting what you are expressing facially. That will sabotage your efforts to communicate effectively and make it difficult for your audience to understand you.
Importance of communicating effectively
Haven seen how you can communicate more effectively; it is important that you know the actual reasons why you have to constantly improve on your communication skills. Effective communication is not a skill to practiced only by people whose jobs seem to have something to do with transmitting information on regular basis like journalists, presenters, or even professional communicators. The simple fact that we all have to pass on information to others and have them send us feed-back makes communication extremely necessary. Our relationships on whatever level are only as good as our ability to communicate effectively. So let’s look at some specific reasons why effective communication is so important.
Effective communication builds and strengthens relationships
As parents, children, spouses or lovers, effective communication is powerful enough to determine how closely we relate with and bond with each other, children will love their parents more and spouses will enjoy their marriages better if they just learnt to communicate more effectively. The more effective you can communicate with any person or group of people, the stronger the bond between you and them and the easier it will be for you to influence them.
Couples for example have to know and understand each other’s body language and non -verbal communication patterns. This is important because many times, wives for example expect their husbands to be able to look at them and tell what’s wrong or at least know that something is wrong. Studying a woman’s body language and understanding it makes her feel loved because to her, it means you are actually really interested in knowing her better.
Children too may often communicate non verbally and expect their parents to understand what they mean or should otherwise have said verbally. Like women, understanding your child’s non -verbal communication patterns help you bond faster and deeper with them.
Aside from family, effective communication seems to be even more important when we are dealing a corporate environment and improving communication skills is very critical. Managers and business or company leaders know how important it is to communicate effectively at work. Workers who communicate more effectively are simply more productive. They cooperate better. Leaders on the other hand who have mastered the art of effective communication can more easily influence their subordinates positively. Workers will actually be more willing to go the extra mile if they have someone supervising them who knows how to get them to do their jobs by communicating plans, ideas, and developments effectively.
We can go on and on and on without fail. No matter the type of relationship you have with a person, your ability to effectively communicate with them will make that relationship far better than it already is. Imagine living in this world with no ability to communicate with anyone. You Can’t talk, can’t make signs or sounds, can’t hear, just nothing. Even if you could do all these things and had no one around to communicate with, it will feel like the situation is worse. That is why solitary confinement remains one of the most painful forms of punishment. At the very core of every one of us is the desire to communicate and receive feedback.
It gives you the power to influence people
Remember Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the negative Adolf Hitler or the recent Barack Obama? One thing that it common between these guys and a host of other world changers is their ability to sway people with excellent communication skills. The art of communication was to them more important and more powerful than wielding any weapon man has ever been able to invent. Show me a man who wields the power of communication and I will show you a man who can command thousands, move them to action and change the course history. That is what the people I just mentioned did and that is exactly what you can do with the power of communication.
Knowing how to influence people is important and effective communication is an important part of it. You can force a person to do something by frightening or threatening them but nothing is more satisfying and honorable as influencing a person to take action by simply communicating effectively. You will have more friends and more excited workers if you can say the right thing the right way. The amount of influence you have over a person and the level of impact you can make over their lives is directly related to your ability to effectively communicate with them.
Communicating effectively is important to business and company growth
Companies have plans and they work on them diligently to meat goals or objectives which are an integral part of business growth. It is crucial that those goals and plans are effectively communicated to every worker if they have to be realized. Everyone on the corporate ladder ought to be clear on what is expected of them and how they have to go about their duty. If there are any lapses in the communication pattern there could be serious repercussions that would cause the company a fortune or slow down growth.
Information in a company goes through different stages before it gets to the last people on the corporate ladder. Then feedback, if there is need for any has to go through the same process. If the information was communicated in writing, things could be easier but if it were to be communicated verbally, a lot of complications could result in the process if those involved do not take precautions to ensure that the information is passed across effectively.
It Adds value to your personality
People who can communicate effective are usually regarded as influential and more valuable than those who can’t. like we have already established, effective communication is strongly associated with the ability to influence people. And the amount of influence you have on people translates to how important you are to them and others. Summarily, the more effectively you can communicate, the more important you are.