Even the biggest loners crave some quality socialization from time to time. For all intents and purposes, humans are pack animals, the ones that thrive when they are a useful component of the group. In order to find this purpose, we need to develop our communication skills. Now, even the most socially awkward person actually has all the sophisticated communication tools embedded in their brain. The question is not whether they exist – it’s how to draw them out. If you are interested in honing these conversational tools, here are some basic tips on how to improve your communication skills.
Learn how to listen
No matter where you look for advice for improving your communication skills, it will always begin with the same thing – learn how to listen. There is a good reason for the ubiquity of this advice – it is one of the hardest and most rewarding lessons to learn in life. Listening to other people is not only crucial to communication, it is a key to success. Merely conveying information and expressing your feelings is good, and it’s important to articulate your thoughts properly.
However, good communication is not a one-way street. When you express yourself to someone, you expect a response, and the first thing you need to learn in order to improve your conversational skills is that the other person shares this deep and passionate need with you. In fact, all humanity shares it. Therefore, in order to fulfill your need to communicate, you need to consider other people’s needs too. Good communication is a “quid pro quo” arrangement. If you find this extremely hard and exhausting, consider hiring a life coach. He can guide you, and motivate you, and he can be truly objective on you.
However, just as it has already been indicated, learning how to listen is not easy. In fact, it is just like going to the gym – you have to be patient, resilient and consistent. Even children can learn how to listen for a minute or two, but if you want to master communication, you have to go much further than that.
You need to learn how to absorb a copious quantity of information from the other person organically in order to construct the idea of them as a character and reinforce your ability to listen to that specific individual more efficiently. The lack of patience to do this is a stumbling block for many people, and they unfortunately never become good conversationalists. Arm yourself with tolerance and you’ll learn how to become more empathetic and develop useful communication shortcuts.
Sometimes, it’s hard to teach yourself
If you feel like these tips are overwhelming, you shouldn’t be ashamed to seek courses, both online and offline. The proliferation of a neuro linguistic programming training providers that teach verbal and non-verbal communication is proof enough of how many people actually seek help in such matters. Some of these courses can introduce you to a whole new approach or set of tools you can use to improve yourself. So, trying them out can only be a step in the right direction.
Shortcuts and efficient talk
After you truly learn how to listen, you will amass knowledge about conversing and develop useful communication shortcuts. These shortcuts are mostly words, phrases and sentences that will help you engage and empathize with people better. As you get into the habit of using them, you will learn that you can establish rapport faster, but you can start employing some of them right now.
For example, you should do is learn the name of the person you are having a conversation with and use that name during the conversation as much as you can. This will develop a new level of familiarity between you two. Try to end statements with short questions like “What do you think about this?” and “What is your perspective?”. This will show you are interested in what people think and the person you are talking to will listen to your more tentatively.
People of ancient Sparta were known as rigid and sparse conversationalists. They did not speak if they had nothing to say and when they did, their sentences were short, dry, loaded with meaning and, very often, witty. This is the ultimate form of communication you should strive for. Above all else, learn how to listen, empathize and reflect before you respond. Finally, as you respond or speak first, try to convey essential information in as few words as possible. This is the ultimate conversational skill.
Communication is a two-way street. As long as you repeat this as a mantra, your conversational capabilities will improve. It’s not only about expressing your feelings and thoughts without reflection – it’s about understanding the wants and needs of others. Only when you realize this can you finally be certain your communication skills will know no bounds.