Effective communication skills are vital during your entire life. Whether it is trying to reason with a bully on the kindergarten playground or talking to your boss about a possible promotion, effective communication skills can make or break the situation. Proper communication skills can be learnt and with practice will become an integral part of your lifestyle.
Listening to someone attentively is a skill that is mandatory in effective communications. Many people only listen halfheartedly to someone else when they are speaking. Instead, they are planning their own reply to what the person is saying. Listen thoughtfully to what others are saying and clarify what you are hearing by saying something like, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is what I understand you are saying....” Make sure you don’t presume to know what the other person is saying if you are not sure. Listening in this manner will give you better control over how you should reply.
Expressing Your Thoughts
Make certain that you are clear in expressing what is on your mind. Don’t feel you have to use big, flowery words that the other person may not understand. Speak in an even, positive tone to get your point across clearly and smile frequently. Ask the other person if he understands what you mean.
Confidence and Clarity
Have confidence in your own viewpoints and remember that what you have to say is valid and important. Don’t take a critical tone, which tends to make people stop listening to what you are saying. Don’t assume that silence means that a person disagrees with you or that she did not comprehend what you are saying. She may simply be formulating her own thoughts and reply. Be flexible in trying to resolve conflicts by keeping an open mind: someone has to be wrong; someone has to be right; and in some situations, both parties have valid points. Be willing to compromise when there is not a clear, definite answer to the discussion. Sometimes agreeing with someone that it is OK to disagree is all either of you can do.
Everyone at some time or another makes grave errors of judgment when he is communicating, whether it is replying without thinking the matter through clearly, or speaking harshly because he has misinterpreted a situation. Learn from your mistakes, replay them in your mind and decide how you could have more effectively communicated with the other person. Effective communication takes practice.
Consideration of Others
People love to hear their names, so use them often in conversation with them. Do not monopolise conversations. Other people want to say what they are thinking, too. Draw other people into the conversation if they are shy, especially if you know they have something to contribute. Maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking with. Step back and include others in the group. Draw people out by asking them questions. Your ability to communicate effectively by not hogging the conversation and listening attentively to others thoughts and viewpoints will make you a winner in the communications game.