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How to improve your communication skills

June 25, 2017

  • Teresa Flores, Ecker Center

Every time we are sharing information with another person, we use communication. Communication skills can be verbal (using voice), non-verbal (using body language, gestures) and written (using printed or digital media). Communication makes collaboration possible, gives us the ability to influence others, express our own needs and in getting the needs of others met. Good communication makes relationships stronger.

How to improve your skills:

• Listen what the other person is saying to understand more clearly and respond in a positive way. Ask for clarification when needed. This will help them to feel heard and allow them to clarify, if you misunderstood.

• Do not say the first thing that comes into your mind: take a moment to think what you want to say.

• Don’t change the topic: don’t bring things in that are not related to the topic.

• Encourage open and honest feedback: don’t talk about others behind their backs. Keep boundaries.

• Don’t take things personally: avoid being on the defensive or in the attacking mood during conversations. Keep the balance on the conversation so that everyone involved has a chance to participate in it.

• Avoid interrupting: if it is necessary for you to interrupt, say sorry and speak.

• Think before you say anything: we need to think how our words are going to affect the other person.

• Be aware of what’s going on with other people’s lives: take into consideration the other person culture, past experiences and attitudes before you share information.

• Be aware of your body language: maintain eye contact and avoid defensive body language. Non-verbal communication includes gestures, facial expressions, body language, posture and proximity. Avoid whining and complaining: Deliver the message stating your issue and offer a solution. Deliver the messages in a positive manner.

• Avoid making interpretations: instead of criticizing, discuss your concerns. Criticism leads to name calling.

• Don’t let emotions take over: excessive emotions can change the conversation and turn it into a discussion leading to a fight.

• Ask open-ended questions: questions that requires a full answer, an answer with many words. Close-ended questions are answered in short- single- word answer (usually yes or not).

Good communication requires practice, but it helps to avoid hurting feelings.

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