Personal Growth

Mastering the Art of Conversation: How to Be Better at Communicating

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Good communication is like a bridge, connecting us to others in big and small ways.

Whether we’re sharing news with family, chatting with friends, or discussing tasks at work, how we communicate shapes our relationships. That’s why we need to nurture and refine this skill. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about effective communication and get some tips on how to be better at communicating. 

Understanding Effective Communication

how to be better at communicating - notebook in a desk with "effective communication written on it."

Before I share with you the methods to improve communication skills, it’s essential to grasp what it truly means. Effective communication is the art and science of sharing ideas, feelings, or knowledge so that both the person speaking and the one listening feel clear and content. 

To communicate effectively, you can remember these 5 C’s and use them as your checklist:

  • Clarity
  • Consistency
  • Coherence
  • Credibility
  • Courtesy

Barriers to Effective Communication

Even with the best intentions, communication can sometimes falter. And that’s because of some barriers or invisible walls that can block and distort your message. Here are some common ones:

  • Distractions. Whether it’s a buzzing phone, a loud TV, or just wandering thoughts, distractions can steal away your attention.
  • Assumptions. Thinking you already know what someone will say or that they’ll “get it” can lead to misunderstandings.
  • Physical Barriers. Things like distance or a bad phone connection can interrupt the flow of conversation.
  • Emotional Barriers. Emotions like fear, anger, or extreme happiness can color how we take information or express ourselves.
  • Screen Barriers. The lack of face-to-face interaction can make it difficult to gauge tone, emotion, or intent. Typed words can be misinterpreted. And it can lead to confusion or unintentional disagreements. 

Recognizing these barriers to powerful and persuasive communication is the first step to overcoming them.

Five Ways to Build Effective Communication Skills

1. Active Listening

Listening is not the same as hearing. While the other is a passive action, truly listening requires your full effort and intention. Active listening is diving deep into the conversation, absorbing every word, and understanding the emotions behind them.

So, how can you be a better listener? You can make simple gestures to show you care, like nodding occasionally or repeating what the speaker says but in your own words. 

You should also resist the urgent need to interrupt or jump in with your story. Instead, take a moment to reflect on what has been shared.

2. Clear and Concise Messaging

We live in a fast-paced world where time is a precious commodity. Cluttering our conversations with excessive words can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. That’s why being clear and concise is crucial.

Speaking concisely lets you focus on key points, ensuring your message is heard and understood. It lends credibility to your words and makes it easier for the listener to grasp your intent. Moreover, concise speech often pairs with clarity, cutting out potential distractions.

To practice clear and concise communication:

  • Plan. Before speaking, outline your main points in your mind. This prevents you from veering off-topic.
  • Know Your Audience. Adjust your language and content to match the familiarity and knowledge of your listeners.
  • Use Examples Sparingly. While examples can illustrate a point, ensure they are directly relevant. Avoid multiple examples for the same issue.

3. Nonverbal Communication 

Words matter, but often, what we don’t say speaks louder. Nonverbal communication—like eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and gestures—vividly depicts our feelings and intentions.

When we know our nonverbal cues, we can send a strong message that we’re engaged and attentive.

Recognizing others’ non-verbal signs is just as vital. It offers clues into their emotions, revealing what might be left unsaid.

Here are some ways you can do to excel in non-verbal communication:

  • Tune In. Similar to active listening, be present. Notice the small details in others.
  • Open Position. Keep your body relaxed and face the person you’re talking to. It makes them feel valued.
  • Notice the Unspoken. Be mindful of their body language, like folded arms or avoiding gaze. They can reveal hidden feelings or concerns.

4. Feedback Loop 

This refers to the continuous cycle of giving and receiving feedback.

Feedback helps you understand if your message is clear and if it’s making the desired impact. It’s a two-way street: you provide insights into what others tell you, and they do the same. Feedback can highlight improvement areas and affirm positive behaviors when done constructively.

However, being open and receptive is crucial to truly benefit from the feedback loop. Sometimes, it might be hard to hear, but when taken in the right spirit, every piece of feedback can be a stepping stone towards better communication.

5. Think Before You Speak (or Click Send)

how to be better at communicating - person typing on her phone

Words are like arrows. Once released, they can’t be taken back. This truth applies whether you’re chatting face-to-face or sending messages online. 

It’s wise to pause and ponder. Reflect on the impact of your words. Will they be helpful or hurtful? Informative or confusing? The space between thinking and speaking (or typing) can make a difference.

Also, remember that delivery matters. It’s not only about what you say but how you say it. Careful thought can save you from potential embarrassment and preserve your relationships. That’s why emotional intelligence also plays a huge role in communication.

For instance, you can say something with the best intentions. But if delivered poorly, it can still be taken the wrong way. The tone of your voice, the choice of words, and even the timing of the message all play crucial roles in how your message is perceived.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Re-read Before Sending. When texting or emailing, always review your words. Look for ambiguities, and ensure your message is clear.
  • Practice Tone Awareness. Try to infuse your words with the right emotion, whether spoken or written. A smile, a light touch, or even a well-placed emoji can change the entire mood of the conversation.
  • Breathe. Take a deep breath if you feel an immediate, emotional response brewing. It can give you the clarity needed to respond in the best way possible.

Improve Your Communication Skills Today 

Mastering effective communication skills won’t happen drastically overnight. It will take time, patience, and practice like any other skill. However, each step towards better communication leads to more authentic relationships, increased understanding, and personal growth.

Remember, it’s okay to stumble or make mistakes along the way. Each interaction offers a learning opportunity. The important part is that you’re aware and making an effort.

So, listen more, speak with intention, and always choose kindness. 

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts

Which area of your communication skill do you want to improve first, non-verbal or verbal? Let us know in the comments! 

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