Many people agree that communication is one of the things that makes us human, but whether we do it effectively is another matter altogether. Effective communication skills are fundamental to success in many aspects of life.  My job, for instance, requires that I have strong communication skills. People with good communication skills usually enjoy better interpersonal relationships with friends and family, haven’t you noticed that?

Effective communication is a key interpersonal skill and learning how you can improve your communication has many benefits.

Listening is one of the most effective aspects of communication. It is not the same as hearing; learn to listen not only to the words being spoken but how they are being spoken and the non-verbal messages sent with them.  Use the techniques of clarification and reflection to confirm what the other person has said and avoid any confusion.  Try not to think about what to say next whilst listening; instead clear your mind and focus on the message being received.  Your friends, colleagues and other acquaintances will appreciate good listening skills.

Be sympathetic to other people’s misfortunes and congratulate their positive landmarks.  To do this you need to be aware of what is going on in other people’s lives.  Make and maintain eye contact and use first names where appropriate.  Do not be afraid to ask others for their opinions as this will help to make them feel valued. Consider the emotional effect of what you are saying and communicate within the norms of behaviour acceptable to the other person.

Another thing you can do is to empathie. This is trying to see things from the point-of-view of others. When communicating with others, try not to be judgmental or biased by preconceived ideas or beliefs – instead view situations and responses from the other person’s perspective.  Stay in tune with your own emotions to help enable you to understand the emotions of others. If appropriate, offer your personal viewpoint clearly and honestly to avoid confusion.  Bear in mind that some subjects might be a taboo or too emotionally stressful for others to discuss.

Lastly, offer words and actions of encouragement, as well as praise, to others. Make other people feel welcome, wanted, valued and appreciated in your communications. If you let others know that they are valued, they are much more likely to give you their best.  Try to ensure that everyone involved in an interaction or communication is included through effective body language and the use of open questions.