Here are some guidelines for developing good communication skills that you can practice anywhere and at anytime.
1. Make eye contact. Whether you are speaking or being spoken to, looking into the eyes of the person you are in conversation with can make the experience much more successful. Eye contact conveys interest, and encourages your partner to be interested in you in return. In less intimate settings, when giving a speech or when in front of several people, holding the eyes of different members of your audience can personalize what you are saying and maintain attention.
2. Be aware of what your body is saying. Body language can say so much more than a mouthful of words. An open stance with arms easily to your side tells anyone you are talking to that you are approachable and open to hearing what they have to say. Arms crossed and shoulders hunched, on the other hand, suggest disinterest in conversation or unwillingness to communicate. Often, communication can be stopped before it starts by body language that tells people you do not want to talk. Good posture and an approachable stance can make even difficult conversations flow more smoothly.
3. Have courage to say what you think! Communication skills begin with simple communication. Take time each day to be aware of your opinions and feelings. When you are aware of what you believe on a certain issue, you can better convey those thoughts to others. Individuals who are hesitant to speak because they do not feel they have worthwhile opinions need not fear: what is important or worthwhile to one person may not be to another and may be more so to someone else. In a world so very big, someone is bound to agree with you, or to open your eyes to an even deeper perspective. The courage to say what you think can afford you the opportunity to learn more than you did before.
4. Speak loudly enough to be heard. When you are saying what you think, have the confidence to say it so as to be heard. An appropriate volume can inform listeners that you mean what you say, you have thought about what you are saying, and what you are saying is worth hearing. An appropriate tone and volume ensure your listeners hear exactly what you are saying, and decreases room for misunderstanding.
5. Practice. Communication skills can be practiced every day in settings that range from the more social to the more professional. While some people feel the need to take a special college course on communications, or to attend community lectures on giving speeches, you might find that these simple behavior tips can open up new communication opportunities to you. New skills take time to refine, but each time you use your communication skills you open yourself to opportunities and future friendships.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Communication Skills. The Official Guide to Communication Skills is Meryl Runion. Meryl Runion, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional and the author of four books on communication. Her books have sold over 250,000 copies worldwide. She is the author of a weekly email newsletter called A PowerPhrase a Week, which boast thousands of subscribers. Her clients include IBM, who find her to be systematic, the IRS who particularly love her in April, and the FBI, who find her to be a person of interest.
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