Communicating effectively is essential if you want to minimize conflict and develop better relationships. While one might think that simply speaking your mind is effective communication, there really is so much more involved. Whether you’re looking to boost teamwork among employees, set clear standards throughout a workplace, or simply maintain an environment and culture that facilitates growth, you must focus efforts on ways to improve communication skills for everyone – and this applies to business or social settings.
Effective communication leads to better problem solving and happier people in any kind of community. Without knowing how to communicate effectively, we might say things that lead to misunderstandings or become frustrated with others.
Here are 4 ways to improve communication skills:
1. Practice Engaged Listening
During a conversation, focus on what the other person is saying instead of on what you’re planning to say. Effective communication is not all about doing the talking; rather it’s a dance that includes listening as well.
Listen not only to the words others are speaking but also to the emotions that are conveyed as they try to communicate. Remember, listening is not the same thing as hearing, and engaged listening makes the other feel understood.
2. Pay Attention to Non-Verbal Communication
Individuals with whom you communicate will hear you, and hopefully listen to you, but they’ll also take cues from your body language. The ways you move and even look transmit messages to another person to tell them how you’re feeling, sometimes more than your words could ever do.
Non-verbal communication, including your facial expression, hand gestures and eye contact, tell a story about you as does your posture and breathing.
3. Manage Stress During Communication
If you’re ready to learn effective communication skills, stay aware of your stress levels during conversations. Realize when your emotions are on the brink of heating up or have already gone into overdrive. Try to refrain from becoming overwhelmed even if you don’t agree with what another is saying or with a situation.
Often, because we don’t listen, we misread circumstances and become stressed when there’s no real reason to be. If you feel you’re becoming stressed during communication, take a few seconds – or as long as you need – to regroup and calm yourself.
4. Assert Yourself Respectfully
Being direct and assertive in a respectful way is essential to improving verbal communication skills, including conveying your needs and wants effectively. You can boost low self-esteem during encounters with others if you practice being assertive with your feelings and thoughts, in an open way that isn’t hostile or demanding.
The individuals you’re communicating with will probably have no reasonable way to meet your needs if you don’t stand up for yourself in an honest way.
Many times, conflict in the workplace or in social settings stems from poor communication related to one or all parties involved. Learning ways to improve communication skills is a good first step in mitigating problems that arise in corporate environments, community groups and even families. Contact Pollack Peacebulding Systems for help managing conflict and communication in your life.