Having excellent communication skills aren’t just a set of words for your resume, but an actual skill needed in an efficient and healthy workplace. Communication skills are defined by how we share information with the people we are sharing information with. This skill is often lumped into the interpersonal skill category or called a “soft skill” but it's actually very important to learn and master the different ways to communicate and share information.
This article will examine not only how to improve and strengthen your communication skills, but what each type of communication entails.
Why is communication so important?
Humans use communication in every aspect of our lives, and it can be especially useful in the workplace. From subtle body language, to a verbal presentation given to an audience, communication is the main basis our relationships are built on. It’s how we share new discoveries and ideas, manage and delegate tasks to our co-workers and employees, and even ask for help to complete a task when we need it.
Becoming a master of communication will help improve your career and can give you an edge as a job candidate or help you to network and gain more connections. It's not a skill learned overnight but learning to communicate effectively is an easily achievable goal.
The types of communication can be split into 4 categories: verbal, nonverbal, written, and visual.
Knowing what all these types of communication can look and sound like will help you know when to observe, listen, and empathize with your peers. Having the skill of communication will help you when it comes to responding to a message or understanding the intent of a conversation.
The 4 types of Communication
The way we communicate with each other comes in different forms and uses. A person would be most likely to use written communication when doing an initial application for a job but use verbal communication when making a presentation with a group. Here are some definitions and uses for each communication type, and ways to improve them.
Verbal is the most common type of communication. We communicate verbally by speaking or even using sign language. Verbal communication skills are valuable for things like phone calls, meetings, presentations, and any instance you need to speak with someone. Verbal communication is the most efficient way to communicate and because its so common it's arguably one of the most important forms to master.
Tips you can use to improve your verbal communication:
Make sure your voice is a reasonable volume and you are confident when speaking. You don’t want to mumble or string your words together, it’s ok to go slow. This is especially helpful when speaking to a group of people to present information. It’s also helpful to face your audience so the sound of your voice is projected towards them. If your audience can’t hear you, they won’t understand the information you are presenting as well.
Verbal communication skills can also be applied to the other side of the equation. When listening to someone speak, make sure you are engaging with what they are saying and are actively listening. Active listening is key for a good communicator and practicing this will help you with one-on-one communication and communicating to a group like in meetings.
Try to avoid filling empty space in your speech with words such as “like, so, yeah” or the classic “ummm”. You might be tempted to use these filler words between sentences or to gather your thoughts, but it could distract your audience from your main topic. You can cut down on these filler words by practicing with a trusted friend and have them let you know when you use these words or even make a recording of yourself speaking and then noting when the words are used. If you still need something to fill the empty space, try taking a deep breath instead.
Facial expressions, body language, and gestures are all forms of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication can be used unintentionally or intentionally and sometimes along with verbal communication. You may unintentionally react to good news by smiling and letting the person you are talking to know you are genuinely happy about what they are saying. You could also frown and cross your arms when receiving bad news. Learning nonverbal communication can be helpful in understanding someone’s true thoughts and feelings. Noticing subtle visual clues in body language could be a very valuable communication skill.
Tips you can use to improve your nonverbal communication skills:
Take note of how you react to emotions physically. Pick a day to try and identify how emotions manifest in your body language. As your day goes along, take a moment to note when you feel bored, energized, frustrated, or happy etc.. and what your body is doing at that moment. If you feel anxious you might notice your shoulders are tight and crunched or you have a stomach ache making you hunch inward. When you know how your emotions display themselves on your body you will be able to gain a greater understanding of your verbal communication and be able to present a clear picture of your intentions when communicating.
When you are being intentional with your body language and make an effort to display a positive and open attitude you will be able to create a space for a clear and honest conversation. Nonverbal communication can also be helpful as an add on to your verbal communication. If you are confused about a new topic someone is explaining you could tilt your head to indicate a question or nod in agreement.
You can improve your nonverbal communication skills by mimicking cues you find effective. If you noticed a certain facial expression or body language that effectively communicated meaning, try incorporating it into your own nonverbal communication. As an example, if someone gave a positive nod of the head during a meeting you presented, and it let you know they approved, you could also nod your head in the next meeting you attend to let the presenter know your feelings.
Communicating through writing is called written communication. It's most helpful for sharing information when not in person, like writing letters and emails, writing books, making notices or pamphlets, writing blogs and much more. It's also helpful in keeping records of information
Tips you can use to improve your written communication skills:
When communicating through writing, it's best to keep it simple and clear. This is especially important when giving instructions through writing. You want to provide all the details while not letting them get lost in information that’s not relevant. This way, your audience will be able to quickly and accurately read the instructions given.
Be careful when writing to not rely on tone. There are a lot of nuances that could be left out when communicating by writing versus communicating verbally. If you are trying to make a joke or be sarcastic without the right tone of voice, it could come off very differently from what you meant. Its best to keep your written communication clear and concise and add more personality when speaking face to face.
Don’t forget to check for spelling or other mistakes when writing, especially at the workplace. If you have an important piece of writing that will be read by a large number of people, don’t be afraid to have a colleague review it as well.
You can improve your written communication by reading and saving examples of good and effective writing in a file. Then, when you need to produce a written form of communication you can use this file as a reference. When you incorporate the things you’ve learned from those saved examples of writing it will help you improve over time.
Visual communication is defined by using visual aids to communicate. Some examples include photos, illustrations, and charts and graphs to convey information. It’s often helpful to provide visual communication during presentations to add context and interest. It’s also helpful to those who have different learning styles to follow along and grasp the information being presented.
Tips you can use to improve your visual communication skills:
Sometimes when adding a visual component to something like a flyer or presentation, the meaning can become confusing, or it can distract from the information. Images can be interpreted in many ways so it can help a lot to get another pair of eyes on your project to let you know how the visuals are coming off.
Also, remember to consider your audience. If you have a chart that includes a lot of data, you would probably need to explain it verbally. If you want to make sure your audience is engaged with your topic, including photos of what you are talking about can help. And remember to never use violent or graphic images.
If you take some time to improve your communication skills, you will be rewarded not only in the workplace but in your personal life as well. These are simple steps you can take to achieve this goal that won’t take up too much time but will be well worth the bit of effort.
The CareerBliss Team
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