Effective communication is the number one soft skill employers look for when hiring new talent. Knowing how to properly communicate with others, whether they are coworkers, clients or peers, can help you become a better leader, mitigate conflict, solve problems and build trust along with many other benefits. To become an effective communicator, you have to make communication a priority and actively work to improve these skills. Simply start by using these tips on a daily basis and you will notice the benefits immediately.
Use More than Your Words to Communicate
The majority of what you say is actually communicated through physical cues. Studies show that 55 percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is the tone of voice and only 7 percent is the actual words spoken, so it makes sense that mastering nonverbal communication is one of the biggest steps to improve how you communicate with others.
Make sure to be confident, clear and maintain eye contact when you’re speaking with others. Adopt a proper posture and avoid slouching and folding your arms. When you cross your arms, you often come off as closed off, rather than open and accepting. By opening your nonverbal cues, it may make others feel more comfortable and able to approach you with new ideas.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator. To communicate effectively, you have to first listen to what others have to say. Rather than jumping in immediately after they have finished their thoughts, pause before reacting. This will allow you to process what they have said and better understand it.
Numerous tests confirm that we are inefficient listeners. Studies have shown that immediately after listening to a 10-minute oral presentation, the average listener has heard, understood and retained only 50 percent of what was said. Increase your understanding and retention of communications by practicing active listening. Engage by asking questions, following up and providing thoughtful insight when appropriate.
Be Clear and Concise
To improve communication, you need to learn how to get your point across without rambling or straying away from the topic at hand. Don’t beat around the bush, instead address and concerns or problems directly. Be clear about how they may bother you and what each party can do to improve moving forward. State what needs to be said as succinct as possible and make your intentions clear to avoid confusion.
Ask for Honest Feedback
Receiving honest feedback from peers, managers and members of your team is critical to becoming a better communicator. More than 75 percent of people believe that feedback is valuable, but only 30 percent say they receive feedback from peers and clients.
When you are open to feedback and ask for it regularly, you are often better able to discover areas of improvement you may have previously overlooked. It also helps address issues with those you are speaking to who may feel limited in their understanding of what you have to say. Feedback allows an outside perspective from those that are communicating with you, and can help you improve your skills to fit the needs of those you are working with.
Overall, clear communication can improve your professional and personal life, but it doesn’t come easily. By working to actively improve your communication skills, you could see an increase in productivity, teamwork and customer satisfaction. Making sure to focus on nonverbal language, listening and accepting feedback will increase how you communicate with others and in turn create positive results.
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