Whether you realize it or not, communication skills play a big role in your life. Verbal communication skills, in particular, can either make your life easy or hard. With written communication, you can edit before sending it off to be read by the other party. However, when you speak, you cannot take back words you have already uttered. If you think your verbal communication skills need some work, then look no further. Here are 12 tips that can help you become a better communicator.
Hearing and listening are two very different things. To be a good communicator, you need to be able to truly listen. Don’t start composing your response before someone has actually finished speaking. This prevents you from hearing their true message. To let them know that you understand, echo what they’re saying by paraphrasing their sentences. If you show people that you are willing to listen to them, then they will also be more responsive and willing to listen to you.
Sometimes, the words people say hold a deeper meaning than their common dictionary definition. In the act of communicating, you need to pay attention to what the person is really saying. You need to be able to figure out the context and feelings behind the words being said.
When you talk to someone, be present both physically and mentally. Doing or thinking of other things can prevent you from listening and getting the full message of the conversation. Make sure to make eye contact. You should also nod, reflect their sentences through paraphrasing, or just give a signal that you are indeed listening.
It is not something that a lot of people think about but voice quality can affect how people respond to you. Admit it: you wouldn’t want to listen to a speaker with a high pitched, whiny voice because it can get pretty annoying. But if a speaker’s voice has a nice tonality and quality, you are drawn in. Try to deliberately speak in a lower octave a few minutes every day to lower and improve the quality of your voice.
Your tone of voice and volume help reinforce the message you are trying to send out. You need to animate your voice according to your feelings. You should also vary your volume depending on the location of the conversation, or the distance between you and the listener.
When speaking, you need to be wary of emphasis. The word or phrase that you choose to emphasize can greatly affect the overall meaning of your sentence. For example, in the sentence “Do you believe me?” If you put emphasis on the word “you”, then you are more concerned with who believes you. If you emphasize the word “me”, then you want to know if the person believes you and not someone else.
You should neither talk too fast nor too slow. If you talk too fast, people might not be able to catch up with you. You also decrease the effectiveness of your message. Likewise, if you talk too fast, you might lose your audience to boredom. The impact of your message will also be reduced.
When you talk, you should not mumble and slur your words together into unintelligible sounds. You should enunciate or produce the individual words clearly. Aside from this, you should also pronounce the words properly. Proper pronunciation makes you sound intelligent and more credible. It also prevents miscommunications.
The words you use greatly affect the message you are trying to convey. Be sure that when you use a word, you understand it. Remember that words can have different connotations depending on the country, age group, and cultural groups. Use words that are appropriate for your audience.
“You messages” give the impression that you are blaming others for the things that happen to you. You come off as being accusatory and as if you are attacking the person. This leads to defensiveness which can create a block for effective communication. You should, instead, opt to use “I messages”. With this approach, you are making something about you and your feelings. You give the person a chance to see your point of view. They will be more understanding than upset.
Verbal cues or the uttering of sounds is not the only thing that is involved in communication. Non-verbal cues can also be helpful in reinforcing your message. Examples of non-verbal cues are hand gestures, body orientation, and even facial expressions.
When you communicate, you should take great care to avoid sending mixed messages. Your choice of words, tone, volume, and gestures should come together to send one unified message.
You do not have to be a stellar communicator in order to successfully get through life. However, it will definitely be to your advantage if you make an effort to improve your existing communication skills. Take time to study and use these tips. Consciously practice until being a good communicator becomes second nature to you. Believe in yourself and people will believe the message you are sending.
Top image source: speechandvoice.com
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