Good communication skills will enhance your life in every way. In the workplace, effective business communication skills are a must for establishing a professional career. Effective Communication skills also play a key role in your social and personal life, enabling you to develop close relationships with others. Natural communicators are few and far in between.
Most people have to learn and cultivate effective communication skills as they get older. Refining these skills is essential to enjoying a happier, more productive personal, social and professional lifestyle.
Defining “Effective Communication Skills”
There are many aspects to communication that help to define effective communication skills. The Internet has opened up a whole new world of communication via email, messaging, social media and texts. However, these means of communicating fall short of helping people connect on a deeper level and forming strong personal and work relationships. People need effective interpersonal communication skills to live and work together as a team.
Effective communication begins with developing good speaking skills. Your verbal communications should be clear, straightforward and complete in expressing what you want to say. Meaningful relationships can only be established when verbal communications are personal, honest, specific and real.
Speaking is but one aspect of effective communications. Good communicators also need to hone such skills as listening, body language, stress management, empathy and emotional awareness to truly grasp what others are trying to say.
Listening is an essential element of communicating as it demonstrates your interest in hearing what others have to say. Through listening, you gain a better understanding of circumstances and situations around you, making it easier to share your opinions and thoughts on the matters at hand. Good listening skills also gives you greater insight into people’s thoughts and feelings on a matter so you can better understand their point of view.
By strengthening your listening skills, you can:
- Connect with others on a deeper level
- Avoid misunderstandings and conflicts
- Create relationships where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings
- Avoid stress and negative feelings from emotionally charged situations that may arise
Body language can contribute much to a discussion or presentation. Tuning into a person’s body language will give you a clearer picture of how they really feel about what’s being discussed. When talking about serious topics, body language can often be a greater indicator of how people feel than the words they are saying. Facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements and the tone of a person’s voice are all part of body language.
Speakers also use body language to connect with their audience. Appropriate body language can help speakers express themselves more effectively as they attempt to navigate difficult topics. Here are some examples of positive and negative body language and the effect it can have on your communications.
Positive body language can help others feel comfortable around you and be more attentive to what you have to say. Examples of positive body language include:
- Open body posture
- Sitting or standing closer to those you’re listening or talking to
- Turning your body toward your audience
- Keeping eye contact
- Giving people a friendly pat on the back
- Nodding your head to affirm what someone is saying
Negative body language makes other uncomfortable and puts them on the defensive around you. Examples of negative body language include:
- Crossed arms
- Minimal facial expressions during a conversation
- Body turned away from others
- Minimal eye contact
- Frowning, furrowed brow, yawning
Some people perform better when under pressure as it forces them to apply themselves to get a job done. This same concept can be used in communications. A little stress can sometimes help people think more clearly to formulate their opinions and ideas. Too much stress, however, can do the opposite, disrupting your ability to communicate effectively with others. When people are overstressed, they tend to misunderstand situations and respond in an inappropriate way. Stress can lead to disagreements, arguments and even fights due to miscommunicating your feelings and thoughts.
Stress management is an essential element of developing effective verbal communication skills. Stress management can help you react calmly and collectively when talking to others. This encourages them to respond in like manner. Most people regret trying to communicate when they are angry or stressed. By waiting until you have calmed down, you avoid having to pick up the pieces later on.
There is a distinct connection between emotions and effective communication. Your feelings on a subject can affect your thoughts, verbal expressions and decisions. You’re more likely to make mistakes in your communications when driven by your emotions.
Sometimes you can be emotionally charged about a subject without fully understanding why you feel the way you do. This can make it difficult to express your feelings to others. Emotional awareness is all about getting in touch with your feelings so you can address issues on a deeper level and build stronger personal and work relationships with others.
How to Establish Effective Communications Skills in the Workplace
Employees with good communication skills are a tremendous asset to a business. The success of many small businesses hinges on the ability of managers to communicate well with their customers and employees. Effective communication skills training programs can help administrative personnel improve in this area.
Communication within most businesses is conducted through written, verbal and nonverbal (body language) means. By mastering these skills, managers can create a positive, productive work environment for their employees. Here are some practical tips on how to improve communication skills in the workplace.
Speak with Openness and Clarity
Verbal communications are more effective when given in a clear, concise manner. Information should be imparted in a way that’s easy for employees to comprehend. By communicating on a level employees can understand, managers will be more successful in getting the results they desire.
Along with clarity, managers need to speak openly and honestly about issues that may arise. Open, honest communications can help prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Employees will also feel more confident and comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas in an open, honest atmosphere.
Review Written Communications Orally
As writing is an important aspect of business communications, smart managers will make every effort to improve their writing skills. One way to accomplish this is to read your emails and memos orally before sending. Reading your messages out loud gives you time to review your information to ensure it’s complete and accurate. You’ll also have the opportunity to doublecheck the tone of your message and tweak it, if necessary, so as not to offend the receiver.
Practice Good Body Language
Whether you’re having a casual conversation with an employee or making a formal presentation, body language is important. By practicing open body language techniques, you can hone this communication skill. Positive body language will help your workers feel more comfortable so they can concentrate on the information you have to share.
Listen to Your Employees
There’s no substitute for good listening skills in understanding your employee’s needs. Developing effective listening skills is just as important as verbal communications. Listening involves hearing what is said and having an ear for what is not said, but implied by the speakers. Managers with good listening skills will be able to work effectively with their employees to meet company standards and goals. Teamworking also takes a good amount of listening and being open to one others’ ideas.
The best way to improve your communications skills is to put them into practice at every opportunity. Training programs where experienced communicators model effective communication skills for newly hired supervisors and/or employees offer your workers opportunities to grow in this area. Companies can also pair off good communicators with those who are learning communication skills to give workers more time to practice their skills.
Conversations with friends, presentations at work, family events, dating and personal time with your kids all provide you with excellent opportunities to hone your communication skills. The more practice you get, the more spontaneous and instinctive you’ll become in communicating with others. Effective business communication skills can open many doors for your professional career. Effective interpersonal communication skills can help you develop closer relationships with family and friends. Knowing the many benefits that good communication skills have to offer should encourage you to make every effort to strengthen this area of your life.