Man is a social being; we are wired to relate and communicate with one another. This is probably why it seems like extroverts get ahead; it is because they are better communicators.
But you see, you can become a better communicator whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Thankfully, it is a skill that can be learnt.
And if you are reading this, you likely understand why you need to develop good communication skills; you need it to relate to people everywhere, in all forms of relationships, whether formal or informal.
So, let’s not waste any more time; let us get right to it.
9 Tips to Become a Better Communicator
Identify the Purpose
Every conversation or discussion should have an aim; even banter. For instance, the aim of banter is to joke around and create a closer bond with someone.
So, you must identify what you are hoping to achieve.
What are you trying to communicate? And what response do you require as proof of successful communication?
Answering this question will help you better streamline your message and keep the focus in view. This is particularly important for those who tend to ramble and lose the point of the conversation.
A part of being a good communicator is listening.
Think about it; you want your audience to hear you; you need to listen to them too. Life really is give and take; if you don’t listen to others, they will likely not listen to you, either.
Plus, listening to others teaches you how to communicate as well. By paying attention to how they express themselves, you can learn a thing or two about doing the same.
Note Their Non-Verbal Cues
Communication is not always verbal; sometimes, it is non-verbal as well.
So, you need to pay attention to the body language of your audience. For instance, from their body language, you can tell if they are interested in what you are saying or if they like what you are saying.
If they are looking away or looking at their phone, it is likely that they are not paying attention.
On the other hand, if they are maintaining eye contact, you know they are likely with you, or if they are smiling, it shows they like what they are hearing.
Note Your Non-Verbal Cues
You should also pay attention to your body language. You don’t want to give off the impression that you are not present or interested in the conversation.
For instance, ensure your eyes are not glazed even if you are maintaining eye contact; stay in the moment and listen.
Smiling is also a good way to keep your audience engaged.
Asking people questions tells them you are interested in hearing them or in knowing them. Communication is not all about you; it’s a two-way street, so you need to let people know you understand that.
Secondly, ask questions to clarify what the other party is saying to avoid making wrong assumptions. You can ask open-ended questions or rephrase what they said to ask if that was what they meant.
That way, there would be no misunderstanding or miscommunication.
Be Clear and Concise
Some people erroneously believe the more they say, the better they communicate. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
One of the things that makes someone a good communicator is their ability to express themselves clearly and concisely.
The quality of a good conversation is not in the number of words spoken but in how both parties have been able to understand each other.
So, in case you are under the impression that this is an article to encourage you to talk too much, it is not.
The aim of this article is to help you express yourself better when the situation calls for it and achieve the objective of your conversation.
Choose the Right Time
Some conversations – especially tough conversations – require the right timing.
For instance, it would be wrong to try to resolve a conflict when someone is tired and irritable. Imagine coming back from work, tired and hungry, and your partner wants to talk about the quarrel you had that morning.
You would probably flare up even more, and the purpose of the conversation would have been defeated.
So, always choose the right time for conversations.
In fact, even casual conversations have their time. Sometimes, people want to have a serious discussion, and if you are trying to banter at that time, you would not be displaying that you are a good communicator.
Adapt to Your Audience
To become a good communicator, you must be ready to adapt to your audience.
How you speak to your boss at work should differ from how you talk to your friends or partner; the relationship would determine whether to use formal language or not.
Besides that, your audience should also determine your choice of words and vocabulary. For instance, you can use industry speak when talking to someone in your field but in communication with someone in another industry; you should use words they would easily understand.
Another example is speaking to a child as opposed to an adult; you must come down to the level of the former.
One great and proven way to improve your communication skills is to read. Reading opens your imagination, teaches you things and improves your vocabulary.
Sometimes, we might be afraid to express ourselves because we lack the words to, but by reading and accumulating knowledge and information, you would feel more confident to express yourself.
Characteristics of a Good Communicator
One good way to become a good communicator is to learn the characteristics of a good communicator so that you can imbibe them.
- Active Listener: Good communicators don’t just speak; they also listen to others because they understand that communication is a two-way street.
- Polite: If you want to be a good communicator, you must learn to be nice to people and considerate of their feelings when speaking to them.
- Honest: You are more likely to be considered a good communicator if you say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Friendly: You can hardly communicate effectively if people are scared to approach you to have a conversation. So, a good communicator must be friendly and approachable.
- Concise: Good communicators know how to express their thoughts clearly and straightforwardly.
- Empathetic: Being empathetic helps you understand others’ perspectives.
- Observant: Communication is not always verbal. So, good communicators do not just listen to their audience; they observe their body language as well.
- Appreciative: Part of the characteristics of a good communicator is that they know how to appreciate others for a job well done. They don’t spend all their time criticising others; they know how to balance giving constructive criticism and sending a word of encouragement.
- Inquisitive: You will likely communicate better when you are eager to learn about others. People are more likely to want to listen to you when they see you are interested in them as well.
- Emotionally Intelligent: They know how to manage their emotions as well as that of others. They know what to say at the right time.
Exercises to Become a Better Communicator
I said earlier that communication skills can be learnt. So, these exercises are to help you hone and become a better communicator.
I already mentioned this earlier. Reading will improve your vocabulary, giving you more confidence to speak out.
So, take out time to read daily or at least more than a few days a week.
And you don’t have to read books you don’t enjoy; you could always read books you enjoy – fiction or non-fiction.
Additionally, you should read aloud to yourself to practice pronouncing and enunciating your words, as well as tones and pauses.
Practice, they say, makes perfect. You cannot be a good speaker if you don’t speak out more. So, actively speak out more.
Now, this does not mean being a chatterbox; it means you shouldn’t let opportunities to speak out go. Now, if there is an opportunity to speak, do so. That is how you get better.
Of course, another good practice is to speak before the mirror. Practice the best ways to express your thoughts as well as your body language, such as hand movements and your stance.
Take time to watch videos of people giving speeches and presentations. You could learn a thing or two from that. And make sure to practice what you see.
If you don’t know where to start, you can start by watching TedX talks on Youtube.