Do you want to improve communication skills? Perhaps you are someone who finds it difficult to communicate with people in situations like carrying on a conversation, making a speech before a crowd, or even simply answering a phone call at home or in the office.
If you encounter problems like these, fear not – there’s hope for you. Here are some tips that should help you gain better communication skills:
1) Take a cue from conversation starters – these are people who find it easy to strike a conversation with anyone on just about any topic they choose.
One thing such conversation starters have in common is that they talk about topics that they are comfortable with, with people who would like to talk to them. If they feel the other party does not want to talk about that topic, they easily excuse themselves.
2) If the topic switches to one that conversation starters are not comfortable with or know little about, conversation starters choose to become listeners rather than speakers. Do this and you will find yourself absorbing a lot of information that you were previously not knowledgeable about.
3) When you are in a conversation with someone, make it a point to make eye contact with whoever you are speaking with – and smile in a friendly way so the speaker knows you are not hostile.
4) Interject humor into the conversation whenever possible. It becomes possible to do this if you feel that the other people in the group share the same mindset as you. If you are not sure, play it safe.
5) If the group is deeply engrossed with a topic, do participate by introducing your own point of view on that topic. If the group is talking about politics, it is in bad taste to suddenly blurt out “So what do you think about the Lakers this year?” You should try to keep the tangent of your interjection in line with the topic at hand.
6) If you want to be a good conversationalist, it helps to be a voracious reader. Read about various topics that interest you, not necessarily topics that are popular at the moment.
Don’t force yourself to become interested in other topics just because you know other people like those topics – you will come across as trying too hard later on.
7) Ask other people in the group to contribute their own opinions as well. Some people would like to participate in a conversation but find it difficult because of natural shyness. Encourage such people to react to your own opinions and you will find that the conversation becomes richer as a result.
8) When other people react to your point of view, learn the fine art of absorbing their opinions then volleying your own reaction to those opinions. Take note that you don’t need to be hostile since opinions can be expressed in a mild tone of voice as well.
9) Avoid emotion-laden words. It may become unavoidable that one will occasionally become emotional during a conversation, particularly if the topic is one close to your heart.
But using emotion-laden words might be construed as an attack against another person’s beliefs – so, when you can avoid emotional language, choose less flammable words to express yourself instead.
10) Telling anecdotes about yourself is always a good option to liven up a conversation. It is a form of self-revelation and may encourage others in the group to tell their own stories as well.
Be careful though that the stories you tell do not threaten the privacy of other people – for example, if the story involves an embarrassing habit of your spouse, you may want to tell another story instead. You never know when your spouse will learn that you became the star of the show at his or her expense.
Follow these tips and you will find that you can easily improve communication skills in a wide range of situations.