Effective Communication Skills: How To Improve

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Understanding how to improve communication skills is a difficult task for many people, and in most cases it is easy to see why. Many people find interacting with other uncomfortable, and often fear going outside of their communication comfort zone. In other cases, people do not realize that they indeed require improvement in their communication skills. Therefore the improvement process requires evaluating the individuals existing skills and determining where change would be beneficial, and then more importantly, the best way to approach that improvement.

Any strategy for correction should begin with an understanding of what communication skills are. They include the tactical tenets of communication including speaking, writing, reading, and listening, however they also include more dialed-down skills such empathetic and active listening, appropriate physical reaction and response, and context comprehension. We develop our communication skills over time after countless hours of interaction with other people. During this development we unfortunately learn and assimilate bad habits that are often difficult to break.

Understanding how to improve communication skills is beneficial because in some cases a persons communication abilities suffer an arrested development during their formative years, and they enter adulthood lacking effective interaction abilities. In many cases people would argue that their personality dictates their communication style and thus their interaction skill-set, however it could be argued that our communication development in many ways influences our personality. Our communication style and skills form our public image and concept of self-identity. Improving communication skills will improve how those around you perceive you and improve your connection with them.

While a how-to template will aid you in improving your communication skills, it is important to note that any template must be tailored and customized to suit the idiosyncrasies of the individual. The final goals and objectives will remain paramount and therefore inflexible, however, there is always room to mold your own how-to plan from the basic structure of a template. For instance, some self-improvement programs call for a certain volume and type of practice that may not be compatible with your time constraints or comfort level.

Self-improvement is an important phase in the personal development process, and there are many rewards for proactively seeking to correct personal shortcomings. It is important to consider why you want to invite change before you decide how to improve communication skills. Effective interpersonal communication is an important component of a healthy lifestyle, and any effort to improve is a positive endeavor. Consider for a moment how many hours a day you spend communicating and interacting with those around you? With a loved one when you woke up this morning? With the bus driver on the way to work? The sales clerk at the morning coffee shop? Your colleague in the cubicle next to you as you discuss your most recent assignment? As you receive direction on that assignment from your immediate manager.

How to Improve Communication Skills Template

1. Take some time and care to recognize and note how you communicate with those around you. Analyze your speaking style including tone, volume, and diction. Analyze your writing style including spelling and grammar, neatness, and vocabulary.

2. Identify problems, conflicts, or contradictions in how you communicate with the world around you. These trouble areas will become the focus of your improvement plan.

3. Identify the situations where you feel comfortable and don’t feel comfortable implementing change.

4. Adjust your existing objectives to include newly discovered short-terms goals.

5. Identify opportunities to “practice” and look for avenues for feedback throughout the process. Self-monitoring and review is also helpful to grade your progress.

It is important to be patient throughout the process as self-improvement on any scale can take considerable time. For those individuals that feel they need a helping hand in any of the steps that were just listed, there are assistance programs and templates available. A number of academic institutions or professional counselors and tutors offer courses and seminars that provide communication skills training. Similarly, there are various online communication tests that allow the individual to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

After taking the leap and determining how to improve communication skills, there are a few simple recommendations to aid the individual through this enlightening process;

– When speaking remember to move at a steady and appropriate pace, use pauses when needed, and try to enunciate words to avoid slurring.

– Also when speaking, focus on using appropriate volume, including volume changes for effect where necessary, and appropriate tone.

– Prepare yourself for speaking engagements or parties. If you typically experience breakdowns or prolonged pauses in these situations take the time beforehand to brush up on names and backgrounds. Practice asking and then answering questions to yourself, for example, ask yourself ‘How have you been? What have you been up-to?’ and then answer yourself. Recognize the context of the engagement; a formal affair dictates a different communication style than an informal, and thus these skills may need to be used in a different manner.

– For written documents, make an effort to proof read final copies.