“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” ~Lee Lacocca
Are you always wondering how you can improve your communication skills? Do you always pass up on the chance to speak at your team meetings? And do you sigh in exasperation when you are not able to muster up the courage to speak to your manager about your radical, but brilliant ideas?
I always wondered: What is it that makes some people very effective communicators while a few become tongue-tied at the thought of addressing a group of strangers? I used to know someone who was exceptionally brilliant, committed and hardworking in his job but he always used to get overlooked when the time came for the annual promotion or raise.
Problem? Shyness, extremely low self-confidence and an inability to express his thoughts and ideas with clarity.
Related: End Shyness Now
If you look at the leaders in any field, they all have one trait in common – excellent communication skills. Accept it or not, it is very important to sharpen up your communication skills to excel in every area of your life. Here are a few ways you can do that:
Practice on your communication skills.
Brush up your vocabulary. Are you afraid of mispronouncing a word? Or do you feel that your accent makes you stand out from the others? Whatever the reason may be, there is nothing that cannot be overcome through hard work and dedication. Set some time aside daily for working on your problem issues.
As with any other skill, you need to practice on your ability to communicate with others clearly and effectively. Some people are born with it. But there are many of us, me included, who have had to work on it to get to where we are today.
Have patience. Do not expect yourself to blossom into a confident public-speaker overnight. Set realistic goals and congratulate yourself whenever you successfully navigate through a taxing conversation or speech.
Be a good listener.
Do you blurt out what you have to say even before the other person ends his sentence? If so, that might be seriously hampering your communication skills.
Listening is an important part of communication. It helps to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. An attentive listener will always draw more information out from the speaker than an uninterested audience.
Let the other party know that you are genuinely interested in what he is saying by nodding your head or supplying suitable responses at regular intervals. Ask questions if you do not understand.
Mind your body language.
Your body language speaks volumes and might be conveying more information to the other party than you intended to. Frequent shuffling, averted eyes, mumbling are all signs that you are not confident and eager to stop the conversation.
You can use the same signs to find out whether the other person is interested in listening to what you have to say or is lying.
Try assertion, not aggression.
You do not have to be aggressive to drive your point across. Aggression can only make the other party move into a defensive mode making clear communication an impossible reality. Speak clearly and confidently without aiming below the belt. You don’t have to necessarily win each argument to be right.
Look for ways and means to communicate your needs effectively at the appropriate time. Try not to get too emotional and watch your words. Collect your thoughts together before you speak. A misspoken word can quickly send a promising conversation spiraling down into disaster.
Lighten yourself up.
And lastly, show your sense of humor. Be equally gracious in receiving compliments and criticism. Be confident enough to laugh at yourself if you make a mistake. It will not make you less in the eyes of your friends or colleagues and will help them empathize with you.
In an age where instant messages, emails and chats rule our life, good communication skills become all the more essential. Words can make or break relationships. It is up to each one of us to use the power of words wisely and for good.
Do you have any tips to share with us on improving communication skills? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!
Image by visualpanic.