How To Improve Communication Skills: A Guide For The Tongue Tied How are your communication skills? Good, not so good or really bad? There’s always room for improvement no matter where your skills fall on the spectrum, so don’t worry too much about how you’re doing for now. Today we’re going to really dive into what these skills are and most importantly how to improve them. Your communication skills are going to become increasingly important as you travel your journey through college and eventually make your way into the work force. The ability to effectively and efficiently communicate in different ways and with people of all walks of life is going to be an invaluable set of tools. Their value makes it all the more important to get a jump start on developing solid communication skills and continually finding how to improve your communication skills. We’ve got a lot to cover today, so let’s jump right in and get to work on your communication skills! Different Types of Communication Skills We want to quickly cover the different types of communication skills that you will want to improve upon before we get too deep into things. There are four main types of communication that are important and will get you through life and work. Each one is important and just as useful as the other. Here are the types of skills we will spend some time on today: Verbal Communication: These communication skills are indeed based upon your ability to communicate with others around you with the use of spoken words. It’s easy to overlook the importance of your ability to effectively listen to those speaking to you, too. Essentially, verbal communication packs a one-two punch when both speaking and listening skills are used. Interpersonal Communication: When you are tasked with passing information between two or more people, you are using your interpersonal communication skills. This means that you are sending and receiving information by both verbal and non-verbal avenues in an attempt to get a point across in an appropriate manner. Written Communication: Being able to effectively communicate your thoughts, intentions and other complicated points in written form is a super important communication skill to wrangle. It can be a bit difficult to accurately and appropriately articulate information in writing. You have to be aware of many things in order to make sense and communicate important details. Non-Verbal Communication: Your communication skills are not limited to your verbal and written capabilities. A big part of communicating is through non-verbal means like your body language, mannerisms, posturing and even your facial expressions. How to Improve Communication Skills Now we know what skills you’ve got on tap and have a vague idea of what they entail. Woohoo! Check one thing off our list. Now it’s time to take it to the next level! We’re going to go through each skill type and provide you with the information you need in order to learn how to improve your communication skills. Are you ready to get started? Good! Let’s get this party popping! How to Improve Verbal Communication Skills Listen Up: A major step towards improving your verbal communication skills starts with taking the time to listen and take interest in what is being said to you. Active listening is the foundation for stellar verbal communication skills to develop since you will surely learn and adapt to the different ways to talk to people. No Filler: Get rid of fluff words that are used to fill gaps in your thought process and conversations. Omitting meaningless words is a sure fire way to improve your verbal communication skills. This can be a hard thing to accomplish and will take some real effort on your part, though. Try super hard to stay away from saying “um,” “uh,” “ah,” “like” and “yeah” when speaking to someone. These filler words do nothing for the message you’re trying to convey to whomever you are speaking with. Using filler words also tends to make you seem like you lack confidence in what you’re saying and lend you less authority than conversations you have without filler words. Take the time to really think about what you want to say and relax a bit when using your verbal communication skills. Don’t put too much thought into the brief silences that may occur when your pausing to gather your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with having some pregnant pauses now and then! Seriously, trust us when we say that no one is worrying about a bit dead air as much as you are. How to Improve Interpersonal Communication Skills Build Relationships: A really viable way to improve your interpersonal communication skills is to work on building solid relationships with those you will interact with frequently personally or professionally. Having a deeper connection with someone is a great way to get to know how they communicate and allows for a deeper understanding of how they may interpret information coming from you.Relationships that are impersonal and disconnected won’t do much for your ability to effectively employ your ability to interact on an interpersonal level. It doesn’t take too much effort to put a little bit of work into relationships with those around you. This extra effort will enable you to forge a deeper connection for the sake of better communication. Ask Questions: It’s easy to assume things when tasked with relaying information between various parties. You do know what they say about those who assume, right? It’s not too difficult to take the guess work out of things and avoid making yourself the proverbial butt of the communication joke!The best way to avoid miscommunication and assuming incorrectly is to ask questions. It doesn’t matter if you have to ask 1 question or 10 questions. All that matters is that you have a clear understanding of the information you are to relay even if it means asking 11 million questions in order to fully clarify thing. Hopefully it won’t come to that point, though. Who has the time to ask 11 million questions?! How to Improve Written Communication Skills Audience: It’s super important to remember who you’re speaking to when writing a letter, email, any business correspondence, essay or instructions. Try to keep your writing relevant to who will be reading it and maintain consistency in your tone throughout. You probably won’t start cracking jokes in an important letter to your boss just like you likely wouldn’t send a super formal email to your Mom asking her to send you some new tighty whites! Grammar Police: We know grammar isn’t one of your favorite things to talk about and we totally feel your pain! It’s hard to remember so many darn rules, especially when you’re writing on the quick and your brain is working at hyper speed. Really give it your best effort, though. You can have an awesome piece of written communication blown to bits because of easily avoided grammatical errors. No one like getting that kind of feedback. Just CYA (cover your booty) and you’ll be good to go! Keep an eye out for misused words like affect/effect, then/than, your/you’re, its/it’s and there/their for starters. Watch out for those pesky possessives and plurals, too. It’s super easy to make grammatical errors of this nature like company’s/companies, baby’s/babies and professors/professor’s. Those are the most common things tripping people up, so start there and watch for anything else that may get you into a pickle. How to Improve Non-Verbal Communication Skills Body Talk: Never underestimate the power of body language and its value as a communication skill. Your body says a lot to the people you are interacting with and can hinder your ability to effectively communicate if your words are saying one thing while your body says another.A lot of the gestures and facial expressions we make have little to do with what we are talking about or the person we are talking to. You can be talking to a person about one thing and thinking about another. For example, this can be an issue if you’re thinking of something upsetting resulting in hostile body language when you’re actually telling someone something very exciting.The issue here arises from your body language being incongruent with your verbiage thus confusing the heck out of the person/people you are talking you. You don’t want to leave the person you’re interacting with unsure of where they stand with you, which is no bueno! So, pay super close attention to your non-verbal cues in order to avoid the extra confusion and completely open up the lines of communication. You can check yourself before you rigity-wreck yourself by ensuring that you make appropriate eye contact, stand or sit in accordance to what you’re discussing or hearing. Lastly, pay attention to what you do with your arms and legs. Try not to cross those legs or fold those arms too much. This can seem hostile and like you are closing yourself off from those you’re interacting with. You may feel like you’re an open book when your limbs are telling a different story. Observe: You’re not the only one communicating during a conversation…unless you’re talking to yourself, that is. Since you’re bound to have a conversation with at least one other person, it’s super important to pay close attention to the non-verbal cues given by others as well. Watch for signs being sent to you from those you’re communicating with so you know what the scoop is. Do be prepared to encounter people who struggle to convey their intent with their body language similarly to the tip mentioned in regards to your own body language. They can just as easily present themselves physically in the opposite manner in which they intend to. It’s always good to remember that not everything is black and white with the potential to be misleading.