April 19, 2022, 11:13 a.m.
Mastering your communication skills is going to be fundamental to finding success in both your work and personal life. Being able to communicate with people around you is a valuable interpersonal skill that will need to be worked on throughout your own development and career journey. Below, our team has listed 10 things you can actively begin to implement into your daily life to enhance your communication skills…
1. Practise active listening
People often think communication refers to the way we talk to each other, however, listening plays a massive part in how we transfer information correctly. Remember, listening is not the same as hearing. Listening means giving your full attention to the person speaking, and genuinely processing the messages they are giving both verbally and non-verbally.
When actively listening, think about giving the person your undivided attention and remember not to lose your train of thought. Often, we try to form our response in advance to ensure we are prepared for when it’s our turn to speak. This can sometimes bring distraction, and you’re then more likely to miss out on key points that have been mentioned.
2. Consider appropriate body language
Again, communication isn’t just about how we speak. Body language plays a massive part in how we transfer messages to each other. If you’re in a face to face, or video meeting - be sure to show open body language which can encourage others to want to speak confidently with you. Engaging body language can be as simple as keeping regular eye contact, and sitting in a formal manner.
3. Review who you’re talking to
Whether you’re engaging in a conversation with a friend, or your boss, you may need to adjust the way you communicate to suit the recipient. Considering their level of formality, you should adjust your manner of communication based on whether they require a professional tone, or a casual tone. You should also consider the recipient's knowledge, and experience on the topic you’re discussing. Do you need to expand on technical terms to provide deeper understanding, or can you use acronyms to describe what you’re referring to?
4. Understand non-verbal communication
Mastering non-verbal communication is an extremely valuable skill that will be useful both in and out of the workplace. Having the ability to interpret non-verbal cues and signals when in conversation will drastically enhance your experience of communication. Think about hand signals, pauses in speaking, or facial expressions. You should then consider using these yourself to direct others when you’re leading the conversation - this will also set a great first impression!
5. Always make notes
If you’re engaged in a meaningful conversation, you may feel the need to make notes for reference at a later point. Making notes is a fantastic way to prove that you’re focused, engaged and interested in what others are communicating. Often, when participating in a meeting, you’ll want to jot down key points or tasks that have been mentioned so you’re not relying on your memory afterwards. Making notes is a great habit to practise, however be sure to show that you are continuing to actively listen by flicking back to making eye contact with the speaker in between writing.
6. Greet people with a smile
Similar to non verbal communication and body language, having an approachable manner will support you with all of your communication methods. People are often drawn to others when they seem friendly and open to talk to. Smiling can also show that you’re in a happy and positive mindset, which others will also want to surround themselves with.
7. Assess your method of communication
With the continued progression of technology, there is a constant increase in ways we can communicate. Having the ability to assess which method of communication is appropriate to different circumstances, is a fantastic skill to practise. Firstly, consider the amount of information you want to transfer. If you have a large amount of content that needs to be discussed, a meeting or verbal conversation may be best. If you want to make a quick check in, with someone who has a busy schedule, an email or chat message may be a more practical option.
Always consider the level of professionalism that is required, as well as urgency.
8. Think before you speak
Being able to pause, reflect and then articulate what you want to say is an excellent level of communication. This can particularly be effective when in an interview, or highly pressured situation. If you feel like you need a few moments to reflect on what you’ve listened to, before making a decision on your response; try to consider how you may approach the need to take a quick break. In most cases, people will give the cue of ‘Let me have a think about this’, or ‘Would you mind if I take a moment to think before I make a decision’. A habit of most people will be to say ‘Urm’, which can be an informal and unprofessional way to approach this!
9. Treat everyone as an equal
Communication is universal, and everyone has the right to be spoken with respect and value. Regardless of who you are speaking to, whether a friend, colleague or manager, ensure that you are treating everyone with equal respect by giving them your time, attention and a correct tone of voice.
10. Articulate your words
As mentioned above, if you’re in a pressured situation or having an important discussion, sometimes nerves can get the better of you. If you’re prone to feeling nervous, fumbling your words and stuttering; practising articulation may enhance your ability to communicate when those situations do arise. Articulation refers to the formation of clear and distinct sounds in speech, meaning you’re verbally communicating with clarity so that others find it easy to understand the message you’re trying to convey. A few things you can do to improve your articulation include: Check how fast you’re speaking and slow your words down to focus on pronunciation, remember to use pauses where necessary, prepare your key points in advance so you can focus on how you’re talking instead of what you’re talking about. Improvements to articulation will come with time, and the more you put yourself out of your comfort zone, the further your confidence will grow.
If you think you're in need of further support with your communication skills in order to secure employment; you may want to consider our Access To Employment Programme. This programme will support your with the development of your personal and social skills, as well as offering tailored sessions regarding communication in the workplace.
Find out more, and apply now: https://www.wearegft.co.uk/programmes/access-to-employment-2/