1. Think about your audience
If you want to develop good communication skills, you will have to start with thinking about your audience. This is relevant in all forms of communication, be it written or in person. Before you start a dialogue with anyone, take a minute to think about who that person is. Consider who they are in relation to you and their level within or outside the company. How do they like to communicate? Is it with a lot of detail, or is it action-based? Would they prefer an email, a call, or a face-to-face brainstorm?
Who you are talking to matters. It is okay to use acronyms and informal language when you are communicating with a friend, but if you are messaging your boss avoid informal language. Good communicators target their message based on who they are speaking to, so try to keep the other person in mind when writing.
2. Paraphrase the conversation, take notes and reread
Meetings and long-winded discussions can get out of hand or derailed from time to time, which can muddy the communication waters for those who are listening. Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout any dialogue until you’re sure that you’re clear about everything.
Identify important dates and actions in any conversation and write them down. Read back over them to make sure you understand what you’ve written. After a conversation, either clarify the main points with the person or try to paraphrase it yourself. If you struggle with this, you may need some clarification. This is one of main weapons against miscommunication and will improve your communication skills exponentially.
Good communication goes both ways, so it’s essential that you read over anything you send to anyone, make sure you’re clear and concise before hitting send and keep an eye on spelling and grammar.
Listening is the most difficult and important element to improving your communication skills. Being self-aware about your listening skills is the first step to making them better.
People want to know that they are being heard. Really listen to what the other person is saying, instead of formulating your response. Ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings. At that moment, the person speaking to you should be the most important person in your life. Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. If you are speaking to someone on the phone, do not respond to an email, or send a text at the same time, because the other person will know that they don’t have your undivided attention
4. Work on how you present yourself
Body language is key when focusing on improving your communication skills and is vital for face-to-face meetings and video calls. Make sure that you appear accessible by having open body language, by not crossing your arms while also ensuring you maintain eye contact so that the other person knows you’re paying attention.