Top 10 Tips To Improve Your Communication Skills (Guest Post by Speak First)

by Oliver Adria on 19/06/2012

The ability to communicate effectively is vital for the modern workplace. Whether you are a manager who needs to communicate with staff, or someone wanting to improve their professional and interpersonal skills, getting the right message across to people is essential to being able to make relationships and develop a career. Developing the right kind of communication skills means being able to deal with a range of different people, as well as working on being able to find a communication style that is comfortable for you. The following list offers some ideas, in no particular order, for how to achieve this:

1 – Understanding an Audience

Having a good understanding of your audience or an individual will make it easier to avoid making mistakes. Recognising if someone is unlikely to contribute to a conversation will mean that you have to take the cue to lead, and to ask the right kind of questions. Try to engage a person on the level that they are with you, and don’t try to dominate a conversation.

2 – Be Direct, But Not Abrupt

Simple language is often the best way to get across an important point. If there is an unpleasant point to make in terms of the workplace, from issuing a disciplinary warning to firing, make sure that you are straightforward. The listener will still be frustrated, but at least they won’t have had to endure you getting to the point. However, try not to be too abrupt, as this can come across as uncaring.

3 – Understand body language and NLP

Some research into Neuro Linguistic Programming can help you to develop better body language for different speaking situations. Work out what gestures and general body language will work best for you, and try to follow cues laid out by other people. Taking an aggressive stance, or appearing too casual in a conversation might lead to problems with being taken seriously.

4 – Think About Personal Space

An important factor to consider in most situations, finding the right amount of personal space in a conversation can be easily achieved. You may find that being a few steps away from another person in a conversation is fine. Getting closer can make people uncomfortable, especially in a crowded room.

5 – Give Positive Feedback When Necessary

Offering praise in the right places can make a big difference to a conversation. Leading off with a compliment, or noting good points made will help to create a more relaxed exchange.

6 – Make a Good First Impression

A poor first impression can be made in a few seconds, and can have a significant impact on how people view you afterwards. Try to smile and make eye contact with people, while appearing approachable.

7 – Don’t Demand Results

When dealing with employees, try not to demand results, but rather enter into a conversation where you can point out the benefits and the necessity of a particular approach. Be open but firm, and make sure that the employee understands what is expected of them.

8 – Avoid Jargon

Littering a conversation with acronyms and buzzwords can cause a listener to drift off or lose respect for you. Keep language simple, and try not to be too formal.

9 – Find the Right Tone for Emails and Nonverbal Communications

Many misunderstandings can occur as the result of writing emails that haven’t given thought to tone. What might seem like a harmless email, or a joke, might be lost in translation, and can cause problems within an office and relationships. Always read through these communications carefully to make sure that meaning is explicit.

10 – Listen and Learn

Maintaining a good level of communication isn’t easy, and you have to be prepared to learn from your mistakes. It may be worth discussing any communication issues with a line manager to ensure that any misunderstandings or problems are resolved before they can become worse.

Christina Appleworth is an intern for Speak First. Inspire confidence and create impact via our presentation skills training courses available throughout the UK.

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