Did you know that here is a HUGE difference between talking and communicating? Many of the problems we have in our relationships with colleagues, friends, family, partners or spouses are pretty much caused by the fact that we don’t fully understand the importance of communication skills in our everyday life.
Why should you take communication seriously?
Communication forms the foundation of all human relationships. Just think about it for a moment. You meet a stranger, you talk to them or they talk to you. You get to know each other through interaction and communication. Before you know it, you’ve formed a relationship and you’re now friends.
Through communication, you’re able to express how you feel, your ideas and also to understand the other person’s thoughts and emotions. You then either have affection or hatred towards a person.
There are two ways that we communicate:
Verbally and non-verbally.
Verbal communication is through the words we speak and non-verbally is through our actions and body language.
The Importance of Communication Skills – Make It Happen
As we continue to emphasize the importance of communication skills, it’s important to mention that effective communication involves both listening and conveying information. The success of your communication depends on how well you balance the two. This is what makes talking different from communicating.
With talking you are only concerned with expressing your thoughts without listening to what the other person has to say. Communication requires you to talk and listen in equal measure. Your ability to talk and listen will have a huge effect on every aspect of your life.
A healthy relationship requires effective communication. It’s important that you’re able to express your needs to your partner and at the same time be able to perceive their needs as well.
When it comes to your business life, good communication will allow you to converse positively and productively with clients and colleagues leading resulting to career success. This is what we call good interpersonal skills.
Research has shown that if you have good interpersonal communication skills you will be happier and more successful in life. This is because you’re capable to perceive and express needs. This makes people comfortable enough to meet your needs
Many of us are really good at making our needs known but score horribly when it comes to perceiving other people’s needs. We just don’t know how to listen and this affects our relationships. Hence the need to fully grasp the importance of communication skills.
Some people communicate well naturally, without having to put effort. Others aren’t so lucky. They have to work on learning how to communicate effectively. If you’re one of these people, the good part is that this is a skill that can be learned easily, you simply need the interest.
10 Ways to Practice Assertive Communication
1. Practice makes Perfect
Now that you understand the importance of communication skills, it’s time to put this knowledge into practice. Assertive communication is not difficult.
You simply need to remember that communication is about give and take. Give information, listen and receive information. Listening will be hard at first but the more you practice to speak and listen the better you will become.
2. Don’t Forget Your Body Language
Remember that even when you’re not talking your body is communicating something. Let your body language communicates your intended message. Body language is the way you move your hands, your facial expressions as well as your posture.
3. Maintain Eye Contact
When communicating with people, maintain eye contact to add more value to your message. Eye contact gives a sense of honesty and sincerity. People will trust you and what you’re saying if you maintain eye contact with them.
4. Talk Slowly
When you’re nervous you tend to speak fast in a bid to get done with what you’re saying. Speaking fast distracts your listener and they may not hear what you’re saying. Try to talk slowly, but not in a boring tone, so that people can clearly hear every word you say.
5. Engage the Listener
Remember communication is between a speaker and a listener. So when talking try and involve the other person in the communication process. Speak to them in an engaging manner that will make them comfortable to talk to you. This is especially an important skill if you’re interested in public speaking.
6. Learn to Listen
This is probably the hardest part of effective communication. It is also the most important part. By learning how to listen, you understand the value of listening and you’re learn how to make others listen to you. Listening allows you to hear what the other person is trying to say improving the quality of the communication.
If you find it difficult to listen, here’s how to be a good listener:
- Take note of the other person’s nonverbal cues to understand how they are feeling. Nonverbal cues include posture, eye contact, tone of voice, and facial expression. By understanding how they feel, you will be able to respond to them in an effective manner.
- Try to understand their main message. This will make them feel heard and lower chances of misunderstanding what they are trying to say.
- Ask questions that will help you to understand the other person’s message but don’t interrupt them.
7. Give Real Examples
Real life examples make your communication more interesting and helps the people listening to you resonate with your message. People will be more attentive and interested in what you’re saying when you start telling a story that is real.
8. Allow Participation
To encourage a two way communication process, encourage the people you’re communicating with to ask questions and give opinions. This will make the other person feel appreciated and will value you more. People will feel that you are actually listening to them, attentive to their needs and not just feeding them with information.
9. Add Some Humor
If you’re feeling shy to express yourself, break the ice with some humor. We all love humor. It helps us to connect at some level even if we’re strangers. Humor gets people excited and they will want to hear more of what you have to say.
10. Learn how to Communicate
To learn how to communicate is a continuous process. As you keep trying to consciously communicate and not just talk, you will learn new tricks or have to drop some of the things you’ve been doing. In other words, it’s a learning process so give yourself time to learn and keep getting better.
So there you have it, you can no longer question the importance of communication skills. The question now should be ‘are you ready to stop talking and start communicating?’