Humans are highly social, and in order to effectively communicate, we need to develop a wide range of skills. Although we typically associate communication with verbal conversation, nonverbal interactions also play a crucial role. Strong communication skills will allow you to thrive in both your career and your personal relationships.
Remember, communication is a two-way street — in order to improve communication, you need to focus on how you send and receive messages. Of course, we are all unique beings, and that will be reflected in the interactions we share with one another.
In this sense, you will need to display some level of adaptability. You aren’t going to communicate with your boss, spouse, and children in the exact same way — and just because you’re speaking to someone doesn’t mean you’re effectively communicating. On the bright side, communication is a skill that can be improved.
Improve communication with these three tips
Whether you are communicating with a coworker or your partner, there are steps you can take to improve this vital skill. If you actively practice the following three tips, you will find that you gain more from the interactions you have with others. You may also break bad habits that you’ve developed over the years.
Tip #1: Make eye contact
You do not need to awkwardly stare someone down, but do give them your full, undivided attention. When you look someone in the eyes while they’re speaking to you, you’re showing an honest interest in what they have to say. In fact, research has shown that when you make eye contact, you create a subconscious sense of connection.
In a study conducted at Cornell University, published in Environment and Behavior, it was found that participants trusted a cereal brand more when looking directly into a character’s eyes. It was found that characters on children’s cereal boxes look down at an average of 9.6 degrees — matching the height of small children. This interesting study was titled “Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’n Crunch Looking Down at My Child?”
Tip #2: Learn to control your emotions
Emotional intelligence is linked to both self-awareness and effective communication. When you are more aware of your emotions, you can better manipulate your thinking and behavior. This can take time to develop, as you make an effort to acknowledge certain emotions when they arise.
The more you understand about your own emotions, the better you’ll be able to read into other’s. In turn, this will allow you to better empathize with others, gaining insight into how they may feel within a situation. As you communicate back and forth, control your emotions.
You do not need to eliminate emotion — just better control your reaction to the feelings you experience. Each time you’re active in a conversation or interaction, recognize your emotions, and match your behavior with your core values.
Tip #3: Talk less, listen more
Humans have a tendency to voice their opinion, wanting to express themselves and be heard. Once it’s time to focus on what someone else is saying, we’re not always as focused as we should be. Listening to someone isn’t the same as hearing. You not only need to listen to the words, but also to the message being conveyed.
By actively listening, you will obtain more information and enhance your overall understanding. When someone is speaking to you, avoid distractions, and truly absorb the information. Don’t rehearse a response in your head before the other person is done speaking — this will increase your chances of missing important details.
At the end of the day, being able to effectively communicate is one of the most important life skills we can master. Whether you’re communicating with a friend or an employee, remember that communication comes in many forms.
Be aware of nonverbal cues, including eye contact, body language, and facial expressions. Also, learn to be a more engaged listener while controlling your emotions — as strong communication skills will assist you throughout life, within a wide range of situations.
—The Alternative Daily