Did you know that the average person talks at a rate of 120 to 150 words per minute? Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? But if our communication skills aren’t up to par, the number of words we speak becomes useless because it will fall on deaf ears. Communication is one of the most important skills we can ever learn.
It drives everything we do, whether we’re at work in a meeting, communicating with our friends or trying to build a strong relationship with our partner. Communication is essential but if we don’t communicate well, a variety of problems can stem from it. Poor communication skills can lead to miscommunication, bad interpersonal skills and other problems that can potentially ruin relationships.
One of the first steps to improving your communication skills is to be a good listener. Most people don’t realize it, but listening is an essential part of communicating because it’s a way of showing others that you attentively and honestly care about what they’re talking about. Being a good listener is a way of demonstrating respect for others, and when people feel respected, in return, it leads to long and happy relationships.
In addition to being a good listener, try considering these other tips to help you improve the way you communicate with others.
How to Improve Your Communication Skills
Unfortunately, most of us weren’t specifically taught how to communicate, so we’ve picked up some bad habits along the way. But don’t be discouraged, because communicating is a skill that can always be improved on. Keep the following tips in mind the next time you’re having a conversation with someone.
1. Don’t Talk Over People
Interrupting someone when they speak can demonstrate a lack of respect. By you talking over someone, you’re basically saying that you don’t care about what the other person is talking about because you have something more important to say.
2. Never Finish Other People’s Sentences
Even though most of us feel that finishing other people’s sentences is helpful, it’s actually not. Research shows that by finishing other people’s sentences you’re taking control of the conversation and dis-empowering them.
3. Paraphrase What Other People Say
If you want to let someone know that you’re really listening to them, summarize what was just spoken to you. All you have to do is paraphrase what someone has said to you before you make a comment. Here’s an example, “Tracey, I understand you feel like you’re not happy with the career you’re in right now. Have you tried looking for another job?”
4. Listening Is Different From Hearing
When you listen to someone, make sure you’re actively listening as opposed to just hearing or passively listening. The difference between the two is active listening means you’re engaging and responding to the other person, whereas passively listening is just listening without a response.
5. Make Eye Contact
Maintaining eye contact with the person you’re having a conversation with shows that you’re interested in what the other person is saying. Eye contact also keeps you focused and in the present moment.
So, if you feel like you have problems communicating, try using these tips to see if it helps you get your point across while letting the other person know that you’re attentively listening to what they are saying.