Good communication is essential in all aspects of life. Whether we are trying to get along with our family, friends, co-workers, or romantic partners, communication is key. As a writer, honing your communication skills is literally non-negotiable if you are serious about your craft, and career and want to connect with your audience more effectively and on a deeper level.
The ability to communicate effectively can make or break relationships–both personally and professionally. But what does it mean to be a good communicator? And how can we become better at it?
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According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, communication is “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, feelings, etc.” In other words, communication is the way we share information with others.
Most of us communicate with others on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we are all good communicators. In fact, many of us could use some improvement in this area. Luckily, there are some things you can do to become a better communicator.
Here are four ways to become a better communicator:
1. Listen more than you speak
One of the best ways to become a better communicator is to listen more than you speak. We often think of communication as something we do, when in reality it’s something we do and something we receive. In order to communicate effectively, we need to be good at both sending and receiving information.
There is a good reason why we are born with TWO ears and ONE mouth.
Many of us tend to focus more on what we want to say rather than what the other person is saying. This can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for connection.
Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, try to really listen to what the other person is saying. Pay attention to their words, tone of voice, and body language. This will give you a better understanding of their message and will help you respond in a way that is more helpful and effective.
2. Avoid making assumptions
Another common communication mistake is making assumptions about what the other person is thinking or feeling. As the saying goes, “assumptions make an ASS out of U and ME.” Clever stuff right?
We often do this without realizing it, but it can lead to miscommunication and conflict. For example, you might assume that your boss is angry with you because he or she didn’t smile at you this morning. But maybe your boss was just having a bad day and had nothing to do with you. Recognizing the nuances of this can become increasingly difficult if you are a highly sensitive person like me.
Observe, don’t absorb.
Where are all my fellow empaths out there? If you know, you know. To remedy this and avoid thinking “worst-case scenario” all the time. I’ve trained my mind to be more direct and simply ask. Doing this one thing alone has done wonders for my mental health and overall wellbeing. It has also dramatically improved most of my current relationships with the people I care about.
Ask questions to clarify what the other person is thinking or feeling. This will help reduce misunderstandings and will make your interactions, both online and offline, more effective.
3. Be clear and concise
When we communicate, it’s important to be clear and concise. This can be a challenge, especially if we are trying to communicate complex ideas or emotions. But being clear and concise will help ensure that our message is understood by the other person.
I take a few seconds before I have something really important to convey, either in writing or verbally. Breathwork is a very underrated skill set. It slows down your thought processes when speaking out loud and aids in speaking with greater clarity.
So yes…counting to ten does not always have to be because someone or something upset you. You are not alone if you try this or if you have already practiced this. Because it works! Coaches, motivational speakers, and business professionals understand the power of controlling one’s breathing all too well–they make a living doing it.
As writers, we have an unfair advantage because we can go back and revise what we are trying to convey multiple times until we are satisfied with the end result. Public speaking in group settings, meetings, or one-on-one…not so much.
One way to be more clear and concise is to use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying “You never listen to me,” you could say “I feel like you’re not listening to me.” This will help the other person understand your perspective and will make it more likely that they will be open to hearing what you have to say.
4. Choose your words carefully
The words we use can have a big impact on the way our message is received. This is why it’s important to choose our words carefully when we communicate with others. For example, using “I” statements (as mentioned above) can make a big difference in how our message is received. Other words to use carefully include “but,” “never” and “always.”
We also need to be aware of the tone of our voice. Understanding tonality is crucial, especially when it comes to business and sales specifically. The next time you are considering pitching a publication your work, read your pitch back to yourself out loud before hitting that “send” button. Trust me…it’ll save both parties a lot of time.
The way we say something can be just as important as the words we use. For example, if you use a harsh tone of voice when you say “I’m just trying to help,” the other person is likely to feel defensive and may not be open to hearing what you have to say.
Becoming a better communicator takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. These four tips will help you become more effective at communicating with others. So the next time you’re having a conversation, remember to listen, avoid making assumptions, be clear and concise, and choose your words carefully. If you do these things, you’ll be on your way to becoming a better communicator. Good luck!