Communication is an essential part of our day-to-day lives. It helps us connect with people, offer our opinions, and share our thoughts and feelings.
Developing communication skills is the key to success, both personally and professionally. After all, we all speak at least 7000 words per day! So, why not make them all count?
Keep reading this article by our custom-writing team to learn more about improving your communication skills. As a bonus, we’ve included some handy resources that will help you further upgrade your abilities.
💬 What Are Communication Skills?
Communication skills are a set of abilities that help us receive and transmit information. We use them every day, and their efficacy often determines our relationships with others. Whether texting, speaking on the phone, or talking face-to-face, the level and quality of your oral and written communication skills may either help or hinder you.
This is what happens when you communicate:
- You convey your message.
- The other person receives it, interprets it, and responds.
- You receive the response and analyze it.
- Then you reply.
This simple pattern repeats until the close of your conversation. With the help of good communication skills, you deliver your message so that the other person clearly understands it.
4 Types of Communication Skills
Communication is not as simple as it may seem. It has at least 4 different modes, which require different types of communication skills. Let’s take a closer look at them:
|👂 Listening skills||Attentive listening is integral to perceiving the other person’s ideas correctly.|
|👄 Verbal skills||These skills help you deliver your message and include not only words but also pitch and tone of voice.|
|✍️ Writing skills||This is your ability to convey your thoughts in writing.|
|🤝 Interpersonal skills||These skills help you understand your audience and make it possible to adapt accordingly.|
☝️ The Importance of Communication Skills in the Workplace & Life
You might be wondering: “Should I bother with improving my communication skills at all? Are they worth it?”
Absolutely! Here is why:
- They help you adapt to new situations. Modes of communication are constantly changing. Today, virtual interactions often replace face-to-face meetings. With good communication skills, you can adapt to these changes more easily.
- They facilitate a sense of community. Doesn’t matter if you are working or studying; it is always nice to feel included. A sense of community is what brings a team together and boosts productivity.
- They let you solve problems quickly and efficiently (and even avoid them!) Listening attentively to your opponent and then conveying your message clearly can save you from potential conflict. If the problem has already arisen, the same set of skills will help you resolve the issue.
- They help build trust. People will be drawn to you if you are a good listener who can accept different opinions.
🏆 16 Basic Communication Skills & How to Improve Them
Now that you know about the importance of good communication skills, are you ready to start developing them? Great!
Now, let’s go over 16 basic skills that will help you master every mode of communication.
1. Learn to Listen Actively
Active listening is among the most essential communication skills. It greatly affects the quality of your relationships with other people. If you listen actively, you not only hear the words, but also understand the message behind them.
Here are some excellent tips to help you become an active listener:
- Don’t get distracted. Look directly at the speaker, and do not let anything divert your attention from the conversation. Repeating the words in your mind is a good way to stay focused.
- Acknowledgment is important. An occasional nod, smile, or short comment will show the other person that you are actually listening.
- Leave judgment aside. Let the person finish before asking questions or expressing any contention.
2. Have Empathy
Empathy is a great way to establish a connection. The core of empathic communication is the willingness to listen and the readiness to understand the perspective of others.
To communicate with genuine understanding, try the following:
- Reflective listening. Why did that person behave in a certain way? What did they feel? You may try to verbalize their feelings back to them to show that you have heard and understood them.
- Accountability. It’s crucial to remember that you are always responsible for the effect your actions and words have on other people. Never shrink from this responsibility!
3. Be Patient
Patience in communication encourages active listening and empathy. You listen to someone’s message and try to understand it even if you’re angry or frustrated. Doing it will also prevent you from making hasty decisions.
Here are a couple of tips:
- Don’t interrupt the speaker. Let them finish before asking any questions or expressing your opinion. It will allow you to understand your opponent better and adjust your communication accordingly.
- Let the other person interrupt you. We know what you’re thinking: it’s irritating and distracting when people do that. Still, letting your listeners say what they are going to say anyway will save you time and inform you about their concerns.
- Slow down. If you’re getting impatient with your opponent, take a deep breath and then try to relax as much as possible.
Does this skill sound challenging to master? Practice is key. Over time, it will become your second nature!
4. Maintain a Positive Attitude
It’s simple. We all love to communicate with a positive person. So, it’s best to try and be one. With an optimistic approach, communication issues are much easier to resolve!
To improve your attitude, try the following:
- Practice positive self-talk. Do you get overwhelmed with negative thoughts that run through your head? Try to replace them with positive affirmations and repeat them daily.
- Watch for triggers. Pay attention to people or situations that provoke a string of negative thoughts. What can you change? What can be avoided?
5. Be Open-Minded
Being open-minded means being perceptive to other people’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It is among the most basic interpersonal communication skills.
Here are some helpful pieces of advice:
- Don’t be afraid of change. Even if it’s unpleasant, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
- Make mistakes. Allowing yourself to fail will help you see the situation from another perspective.
- Don’t try to have all the answers. It’s impossible to be an expert in everything. Be open to new ideas and let others teach you something!
6. Give and Receive Feedback
Feedback is an integral part of communication in the workplace and college. It is usually meant to encourage or criticize some behavior. Good feedback shows that your message has been heard and understood.
- Giving feedback. When you do it, try to concentrate on the person’s behavior and your response to it. Stay friendly and maintain a positive attitude. Do not try to criticize the personality or character traits of others; that’ll only offend.
- Receiving feedback. This is another skill you should possess to become a great communicator. Listen carefully, focus, and understand what you are being told rather than what you’re going to reply. Work on your emotional intelligence to control your response, and try not to take criticism too personally.
7. Understand Different Communication Styles
A helpful strategy for communicating with others effectively is understanding their communication style. There are four types of communicators that you may encounter:
- Passive. Such communicators are indifferent, indecisive, and comfortable to speak to if a conflict arises. Their lack of expression often leads to misunderstanding.
- Aggressive. Such people are loud, demanding, and always trying to have their way. They tend to be rude and unpredictable.
- Passive-aggressive. Communicators of this type are manipulative and unreliable. Such people often seem passive at first, but you may notice their sarcastic replies and their habit of muttering to themselves instead of confronting their opponents directly.
- Assertive. Such people are good listeners. They clearly express their thoughts and are willing to consider the needs of others.
Assertive communicators are considered best (more on that later.) Overall, having understanding and a positive attitude will help you cope with any type of communicator.
8. Be Assertive
Assertiveness is the ability to express yourself clearly, considering the needs and emotions of others. It helps you gain respect and self-confidence. This skill is central to building healthy relationships and creating win-win situations.
If you are not an assertive communicator yet, learn how to be one by following our tips:
- Respect the people you talk to. Understand and acknowledge their needs and emotions. It’s also essential to refrain from judgment.
- Use “I” statements. This is the best way to convey your thoughts without sounding accusative or offensive.
- Don’t hesitate to say “no” if needed. You don’t have to make excuses. When giving explanations, keep them brief and clear.
- Watch your emotions. Try to remain calm, even, and firm. Make sure not to raise your voice or use offensive language.
9. Practice Responsiveness
Being responsive means giving a timely response to any message. This skill is relatively simple, but, sadly, it doesn’t receive enough attention. Mastering it will improve your relationships with teachers, employer, and friends.
To be responsive, do the following:
- Take time to answer all your emails or texts. Even if you are not sure what to answer, a simple “Let me get back to you later” is a step to improve your communication style.
- Be punctual. After all, nobody likes it when someone is late! When it comes to messages and phone calls, make sure not to delay your answer for more than 48 hours. The sooner you respond, the better.
10. Ask Questions
Information is an essential part of communication. The best and most straightforward way to get information is to ask questions. Don’t know how to do this properly? Check out these tips:
- Make sure your questions are appropriate and timely. Is this the right time? Are you the right person to ask this question? If not, it’s best not to ask it.
- Use pauses. To emphasize the importance of your question, take at least a three-second pause before asking it.
- Ask questions when meeting someone new. It’ll demonstrate your interest and let the other person feel more comfortable.
11. Use Humor
Humor is a magical tool that can get you out of a problematic situation, set up friendly terms with your colleagues, and help you become popular in your friend circle. The tricky part is that the same tool, if misapplied, can cause a lot of trouble!
So, what should you do? Here are a few key tips:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. The ability to poke fun at yourself makes people around you feel more comfortable.
- Make a joke to break the tension in a difficult or awkward situation. A good laugh helps everyone relax.
- Stay positive. Make sure your jokes are not humiliating or offensive. We also recommend you refrain from sarcasm.
12. Hone Your Writing Skills
Written communication is a part of everyday life. We write texts, emails, social media posts, essays, documents, and much more. The ability to convey our opinions and ideas effectively through writing is essential. And when it comes to your career, research shows that 73% of employers want to hire people with strong written communication skills!
Want to improve yours? Here are some valuable tips:
- Write every day. Just do it, no matter what type of writing you choose (email, formal letter, journaling, etc.)
- Use different tools. Popular software for written communication includes Word, Notion, and Trello. Learn how to use them effectively to impress your future employer!
- Proofread. Before sending anything, re-read it. Check grammar and readability: Grammarly may assist you with that.
13. Use Body Language
Body language plays a crucial role in communication. In some cases, what you said may count less than how you said it. People often read your body language unconsciously, which determines their attitude toward you.
Here’s how to use this to your advantage:
- Pay attention to your facial expressions and gestures. Note the reaction they provoke. It’s also crucial to observe the body language of others.
- Maintain healthy eye contact. It will help you promote trust and see the immediate reaction to your words. But don’t stare; that may make others nervous.
- Smile. This is the easiest way to show confidence and make people comfortable.
14. Balance the Tone & Volume of Your Voice
Tone and volume significantly affect how others view you. A dull, quiet voice bores people, and a loud, aggressive one tends to annoy. Try to find the right balance to make your listeners comfortable.
Here’s how to do it:
- Record yourself. Listen and analyze the recording. Do you like what you hear? What could you change?
- Choose your approach depending on the situation. Another helpful piece of advice is to adjust the volume and tone of your voice to the circumstances and impression you want to make.
15. Express Yourself Clearly
Misunderstanding is the reason for numerous unnecessary conflicts. To avoid them, do your best to express yourself clearly. That’s how you can do it:
- Avoid jargon. Many words and phrases are difficult to understand outside specific circles. Eliminate jargon from your speech so that people know what you are talking about.
- Keep your message short and simple. Avoid including unnecessary or redundant details.
- Choose your medium wisely. If you simply want to share a piece of information, an email or memo may be most appropriate. Need more engagement? Try a video conference or personal meeting.
16. Practice Self-Improvement
Constant self-improvement is the key to success. Are there any skills you need to hone? Define your goal and start working on it! Take small steps and practice every day. Make a habit of it, and soon you’ll notice that your life, career, and relationships with others improve.
🔮 The 7Cs: The Secret to Effective Communication
Are you aware of the secret that will help you convey any message effectively? It is known as the 7Cs of communication, and we are going to tell you all about it.
In simple words, the 7Cs are the fundamental principles required to make your communication understandable and efficient.
The 7Cs stand for:
- Clear. Know exactly what you want to say. Use simple language and avoid any ambiguity.
- Correct. Make sure your language is free of mistakes, including grammar and spelling.
- Concise. Stick to the point and avoid using more words than you need to represent your idea.
- Coherent. Double-check if your message is logically structured and makes sense. Be consistent in tone, voice, and style.
- Concrete. Be precise and back up your thoughts with solid facts.
- Complete. Include all the information necessary to make your message clear for everyone.
- Courteous. Always remain polite and respectful. Deliver your message in a friendly manner. Remain open and honest, and don’t forget to use empathy.
Check out this infographic to get a better idea of the 7 Cs:
🗣️ Communication Difficulties & How to Overcome Them
Developing communication skills and remembering the 7Cs will definitely bring great results. But to perfect your communication, you may need to remove a number of barriers.
Communication barriers are issues that can occur at any stage and undermine your efforts. But there’s always a way to cope with them! Let’s take a closer look:
|🚨 Physical barriers||These include things that are easy to manage, like noisy backgrounds, or those that require special attention, like speech impairments. You can overcome these barriers if you listen more attentively and don’t let yourself get distracted.|
|💢 Psychological barriers||Stress, anger, and low self-esteem always affect the way people communicate. Practicing a positive attitude can help you overcome this barrier.|
|🌐 Cultural differences||If a person you’re talking to has a different cultural background, you may stumble upon misunderstanding and other issues. The key to removing this barrier is patience and empathy.|
|🤨 Lack of trust||If listeners doubt your words, it isn’t easy to convey your message. Practicing assertiveness will help you deal with the issue.|
|👨⚖️ Being judgmental||You don’t get good results if you are focused on judging people. Instead, try to keep an open mind.|
|💤 Showing no enthusiasm||Speak dull and show no interest in the information you deliver, and your listeners will feel the same way. Mastering body language and the tone of your voice can improve this situation.|
🎁 BONUS: Best Books about Communication Skills
Want to train your skills even further? We’ve got a bonus list of helpful resources for you! Check out these top 4 books about communication skills:
- Communication Essentials: The Tools You Need to Master Every Type of Professional Interaction by Trey Guinn.
This book contains a step-by-step guide to becoming a great communicator. Each chapter includes a lot of anecdotes, exercises, and insights to enrich your learning. At the end, you will find an essential takeaway that sums up everything you have read.
- 21 Days of Effective Communication: Everyday Habits and Exercises to Improve Your Communication Skills and Social Intelligence by Ian Tuhovsky.
This book contains a practical guide that will show you how to develop good communication habits and eliminate bad ones in just three weeks. The author shares tips and secrets that will help you enjoy your immediate improvement. The book does not include lengthy explanations or professional jargon: it’s just simple, straightforward exercises and actionable steps.
- 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work—Anywhere! Including the “12-Day Communication Challenge!” by Bento C. Leal III.
Can a few simple skills completely change your life and relationships? The author of this book says “yes!” The book offers an easy how-to guide. You will also find a 12-day communication challenge in the final chapter that will help you with your practice.
- Communication Skills: A Practical Guide to Improving Your Social Intelligence, Presentation, Persuasion and Public Speaking by Ian Tuhovsky.
Here the author outlines common communication obstacles and how to avoid them. He also teaches the reader how to manage conflict, predict the behavior of others, give and receive feedback, and much more.
Good communication skills are vital for success in any area of your life. Try to practice them now, and you will soon see improvement!
Have any suggestions? Share your ideas in the comments!