Communication is an essential part of relationships. As long as you are in relationship with people, there is always room for improvement. The trick to improving is to focus on the areas where you are successful in communication and take the initiative to enhance areas that you feel could be stronger.
Here are some tips to develop your verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
Verbal Communication Skills
- Choose your words wisely. A single word can have up to 100 meanings, so make certain you not only choose the correct word for what you mean, but also use it in a context that leaves no doubt as to which meaning you intend. At the same time, recognize that the actual words you use usually convey less than 10 percent of your intended message. The remainder of your message comes across in the nonverbal communication elements like your Tone of Voice and Body Language.
- Focus on your audience. What is the nature of relationship that you share with your audience. What are you trying to achieve. What is the audience trying to achieve. If you can relate your message to the frame of reference of your audience, you have a higher probability of connecting with your audience. For example, if the message is simple then perhaps it can be written or texted. If there is a need to involve the other person quickly the a phone call needs to be considered so the other person can ‘hear’ the urgency. On the other hand if there is a high risk of misunderstanding, then make the time and effort to do a F2F (Face Two Face) where body language can also help convey your meaning or you may see that the listener just is not getting the message.
- Consider your vocabulary. When engaging in verbal communication, use words your audience can easily understand. If you do not do this, it will be difficult for your audience to focus on your intended message.
- Reduce distractions. If possible, control the noise in your environment. Reduce interruptions and focus on your listener. This will help your listener stay engaged in what you have to say, giving them a greater opportunity to understand what you have said.
Nonverbal Communication Skills
- Be aware of your tone. Verbal communication is not just about the words you choose. The tone in your voice can be used to express the emotion you want your listener to hear and feel.
- Be conscious of your body language. Face your body towards your listeners, with a comfortable amount of space between you and them. It is important to have a relaxed posture rather than a defensive posture, if you want your audience to be accepting of your message. Your facial expressions, such as a smile, can also help your audience engage in what you have to say. This includes maintaining eye contact with your audience.
As long as we live in an interdependent society where we need the cooperation of others to survive and thrive, it becomes each of own responsibilities to become a skilled communicator to get our needs met more often.
Mastering both verbal and nonverbal communication skills are important in order to be an effective communicator and build strong personal and workplace relationships.
If you’re wondering how you are perceived in any of the above areas, rather than making an assumption that you don’t need to improve, seek feedback from a close friend or get help from a communication professional.