How to communicate with others: The effective communication skills
Being able to communicate effectively is the most important of all life skills.
Developing your communication skills can help all aspects of your life, from your professional life to social gatherings and everything in between. The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly and as intended, is a vital life skill and something that should not be overlooked. It’s never too late to work on your communication skills and by doing so improve your quality of life.
What Is Communication?
Communication is the act of expressing (or transmitting) ideas, information, knowledge, thoughts, and feelings, as well as understanding what is expressed by others. The communication process involves both sending and receiving messages and can take many forms.
Verbal communication is the spoken word, while nonverbal communication involves actions, facial expressions, body position, and gestures. Communication can occur in one-on-one or group settings, and in written formats (e.g., printed materials) or in visual formats (e.g., pictures, videos, and observational learning). And it involves not only the content of a message but also its emotional impact or the effect the message has on the person receiving it.
In fact, communication experts suggest that between 65% and 93% of the meaning of a message is conveyed through tone of voice and nonverbal behaviors (Johnson 2003). Thus, in addition to becoming aware of the words you use, it is essential that you become aware of your tone and nonverbal behaviors so that you understand the messages you are sending to partners.
Thus effective communicators focus not only on message content but also on how a message might be interpreted by—and might affect—the receiver.
Beyond message content, then, communication also involves the emotional impact of the message on the partner. Effective communicators give equal weight to message content and emotional impact on the receiver.
Emotional awareness is a skill that, with patience and practice, can be learned at any time of life. You can develop emotional awareness by learning how to get in touch with difficult emotions and manage uncomfortable feelings, including anger, sadness, fear, disgust, surprise, and joy. When you know how to do this, you can remain in control of your emotions and behavior, even in very challenging situations, and communicate more clearly and effectively.
If you want to be an effective communicator, you need to practice observing people in public places, such as a shopping mall, bus, train, café, restaurant, or even on a television talk show with the sound muted. Observing how others use body language can teach you how to better receive and use nonverbal signals when conversing with others. Notice how people act and react to each other. Try to guess what their relationship is, what they’re talking about, and how each feels about what is being said.
How to Develop Good Communication Skills
It needs to know what communication really is. Communication is the process of transferring signals/messages between a sender and a receiver through various methods (written words, nonverbal cues, spoken words). It is also the mechanism we use to establish and modify relationships.
- Developing advanced communication skills begins with simple interactions. Communication skills can be practiced every day in settings that range from the social to the professional.
Whether you are speaking or listening, looking into the eyes of the person with whom you are conversing can make the interaction more successful. Eye contact conveys interest and encourages your partner to be interested in you in return.
- Be aware of what your body is saying. Body language can say so much more than a mouthful of words. An open stance with arms relaxed at your sides tells anyone around you that you are approachable and open to hearing what they have to say.
Use gestures. These include gestures with your hands and face. Make your whole body talk. Use smaller gestures for individuals and small groups. The gestures should get larger as the group that one is addressing increases in size.
Show your interest in what’s being said. Nod occasionally, smile at the person, and make sure your posture is open and inviting. Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like “yes” or “uh huh.
- Don’t send mixed messages. Make your words, gestures, facial expressions and tone match.
Manifest constructive attitudes and beliefs. The attitudes you bring to communication will have a huge impact on the way you compose yourself and interact with others. Choose to be honest, patient, optimistic, sincere, respectful, and accepting of others. Be sensitive to other people’s feelings, and believe in others’ competence
- Develop effective listening skills: Not only should one be able to speak effectively; one must listen to the other person’s words and engage in communication on what the other person is speaking about. Active listening provides a lot more information about how to listen effectively and can help you to avoid misunderstandings.
Avoid seeming judgmental. In order to communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to like them or agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. However, you do need to set aside your judgment and withhold blame and criticism in order to fully understand a person. The most difficult communication, when successfully executed, can lead to the most unlikely and profound connection with someone.
- Adjust your nonverbal signals according to the context. The tone of your voice, for example, should be different when you’re addressing a child than when you’re addressing a group of adults. Similarly, take into account the emotional state and cultural background of the person you’re interacting with.
- Be aware of individual differences. People from different countries and cultures tend to use different nonverbal communication gestures, so it’s important to take age, culture, religion, gender, and emotional state into account when reading body language signals.
Speak clearly and don’t mumble. Pronounce your words correctly. People will judge your competency through your vocabulary. Use the right words. If you’re not sure of the meaning of a word, don’t use it.
- Slow your speech down. People will perceive you as nervous and unsure of yourself if you talk fast. Develop your voice. A high or whiny voice is not perceived to be one of authority. Begin doing exercises to lower the pitch of your voice. Animate your voice. Avoid a monotone and use dynamics. Your pitch should raise and lower periodically. Use appropriate volume. Use a volume that is appropriate for the setting. Speak more softly when you are alone and close. Speak louder when you are speaking to larger groups or across larger spaces.
Effective communication can improve relationships at home, work, and in social situations by deepening your connections to others and improving teamwork, decision-making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust. Effective communication combines a set of skills including nonverbal communication, attentive listening, the ability to manage stress in the moment, and the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions and those of the person you’re communicating with.
Differentiate between interpersonal and intrapersonal communication
Communication is the art of successfully sharing meaningful information with people by means of an interchange of experience.
Interpersonal communication skills are essential to developing other key life skills. Being able to communicate well with others is often essential to solving problems that inevitably occur both in our private and professional lives.
Interpersonal communication is that kind of communication which takes place within or among more than two people with use of different mediums of communication. With betterment and advancement of the communication mediums, it has brought the community more closely and as a family.
Communication involves face to face meetings whilst exchanging idea, thoughts and other form of words between the participants. Here the communication might be mediated by using different types of mediums of communication such as television channels, telephonic lines and other modern mediums.
Same as Above all, Interpersonal skills are needed in business, education and everyday life.
But, there is a hidden true way to communication skill.
Intrapersonal skills are those skills and communications that occur within a person’s own mind, and are not to be confused with interpersonal skills, which refer to interactions with other people or personalities.
Intrapersonal skills initiate an appropriate reaction and attitude because of positive internal dialogue, occurring within the mind. Meditation, prayer, visualization and affirmations are amongst the intrapersonal techniques that people use to sort out and evaluate situations and proposals. Awareness of your personal inner dialogue is the first step to improving your intrapersonal skills.
How to improve intrapersonal communication
Visualization is an intrapersonal skill used by athletes, actors and musical performers to prepare them to give the best performance they are capable of before they embark on an event. Mental preparation skills are considered as important as physical skills in overall performance assessment.
After all, it is the mental skills that drive the physical ones and attitude and confidence are considered crucial for a top performance. Visualization techniques are taught in special workshops and courses and develop naturally over time once the basic techniques are mastered.
Having compassion for others is an intrapersonal skill that allows you to see things from the perspective of others, and is important for teachers, team leaders and anyone working closely with other people. Your personal views can sometimes taint your attitude toward others unconsciously, but with a measure of compassion, you can see things in a different light. Some people have a natural ability for compassion, while others need some guidance and tutoring to acquire intrapersonal compassion.
Using positive affirmations is similar to using visualization for changing intrapersonal dialogue patterns occurring within. After recognizing that some negative inner dialogue is occurring, the best way to reverse this is to include some positive affirmations, which can automatically reverse the effect of the negative thought. A positive affirmation changes your inner dialogue and allows you to see things differently.
Positive decision making is a necessary intrapersonal skill required for many professions as well as for a healthy, happy personal life. Well-developed intrapersonal decision-making skills can be achieved with practice. When faced with the decision-making process, you must be able to scan through the available choices in your mind, consider each alternative and come to a practical decision without inner conflict and confusion.
For effective communication, it is necessary that you have to set up strong mindset and to be familiar with your intrapersonal communication.
Visible world and outspoken communication are hologram of invisible conscious system. Therefore, you have to know yourself first and question lots of things to inside communication network of yourself. After that, you can be an effective and authentic communicator in real life.
“The mirror never smiles first”
- Effective Communication, Crookes (1991)
- What communication means for a coach, Damon Burton and Thomas Raedeke(2006)
- Tone of voice and nonverbal behaviors (Johnson 2003)
- A positive coach and sending positive messages (Janssen & Dale 2002)
- Effect of Your Messages, (Smith 2001, Smoll & Smith 2006)
- Differentiate between intrapersonal and interpersonal Communication; compare their merits & demerits, (Tibetan Shepherd , 2012 )
- Body Language: Understanding Nonverbal Communication, (Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Robert Segal, 2014)