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Effective Communication: 6 Ways to Improve Communication Skills

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Mar 23, 2020 • 4 min read

Learning effective communication skills is a straightforward process that allows you to express yourself and improve both your personal and professional relationships. Knowing how to listen well and communicate clearly will help you express yourself in job interviews, business meetings, and in your personal life as well.

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What Is Effective Communication?

Being an effective communicator means being able to both actively listen and clearly express yourself to those around you. Unfortunately, there is no one skill or technique that will make you a better communicator. Effective communication requires a diverse skillset that covers both verbal and nonverbal communication cues, as well as close listening.

Why Is Effective Communication Important?

Effective communication is vital both in and out of the workplace because it allows you to clearly translate your intentions and feelings into easily understandable messages. Effective communication makes you a more productive worker and cuts down on unintended consequences that arise as a result of miscommunication. Developing an effective communication process helps you understand what others are saying and makes you a better collaborator and team member.

4 Skills That Are Necessary for Effective Communication

Developing better communication habits requires several important skills that work in tandem with each other. Some of these skills involve the way you speak or hold your body, and others are more emotionally based interpersonal skills. Here are a few skills that good communicators possess:

  1. Listening skills: Clear communication starts with active listening. If you’re just focused on how you are expressing yourself, chances are you are not listening or reacting to what others are bringing to the table. An effective communicator uses a variety of listening styles. They pay close attention to what’s being said and make others feel heard and considered.
  2. Empathy: Being able to understand the feelings of those around you is an integral part of being an effective communicator. Empathizing means both understanding and relating to someone else’s feelings. Having high emotional intelligence and demonstrating an ability to empathize builds rapport between you and others and increases your ability to communicate.
  3. Nonverbal communication skills: In addition to verbal messages, effective communication relies on nonverbal cues. Developing an awareness of your body language and tone of voice will improve your messaging and presentation skills.
  4. Teamwork: The ability to actively engage in team-building and consistently collaborate with coworkers is an important part of building your business communication skills. The more you build strong relationships and rapport with others in the workplace, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate with them.
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How to Improve Your Communication Skills

If you feel like you lack the basic skills required for good communication, there are a number of reliable ways to improve. Here are a few tips for developing your communication skills:

  1. Practice active listening. Effective communicators are always good listeners. Active listening means engaging with what people say by giving affirmative replies and asking followup questions to show that you are paying attention.
  2. Focus on nonverbal communication. Mastering nonverbal cues and nonverbal signals can help prevent miscommunication and signal interest to those around you. Pay attention to your facial expressions and body language when you are speaking with someone in a professional setting. Your nonverbal cues affect the first impression you make on someone. Maintaining eye contact, limiting hand gestures, and having good posture go a long way when meeting someone for the first time.
  3. Manage your own emotions. For the sake of clear communication and your own personal wellbeing, it’s important to manage your emotions and express them appropriately in context. Allowing strong emotions to unnecessarily creep into a professional setting can lead to poor communication and conflict.
  4. Ask for feedback. There’s no shame in asking for honest feedback on your communication skills from colleagues. Asking your peers or subordinates for their advice on improving your communication skills can help you better understand how you are coming across in your work environment. Cultivate a willingness to seek out other points of view and forge better relationships with your coworkers.
  5. Practice public speaking. Public speaking may sound daunting, but there’s no better way to develop good communication skills than by seeking out public speaking opportunities. Great communicators are able to clearly articulate their feelings, whether they’re speaking to a large group or talking face-to-face to one other person. Regularly speaking in front of a group will magnify your strengths and weaknesses and force you to develop great communication habits.
  6. Develop a filter. Effective communicators generally have highly developed social skills and are able to modulate how they express their thoughts and feelings to those around them. Know what’s appropriate to express in different interpersonal contexts. Developing a filter will help supplement other communication techniques and ensure that you maintain a certain level of decorum and avoid conflict in the workplace.

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