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Four Steps to Improve your Communication Skills

Four Steps to Improve Your Communication Skills

Four Steps to Improve Your Communication Skills

Here are the best four ways to improve your communication skills.

  1. Talk about what you want, not what you don't want.
  2. Use specific rather than vague language.
  3. Give logical reasons to support every opinion, plan or suggestion.
  4. Always be polite.

More specifically;

1. Talk about what you want, not what you don't want.

In any situation, there are two sets of information to consider: The positive set and the negative sets.

Or, to put it another way: In any situation there is;

  • What you do want, vs what you don't want.
  • What you can do vs what you cannot do.
  • The "Can-do part of the job" vs the "NO-can-do-part of the job".

When talking or writing, please ensure that your content is focused 80% onto the positive, "Can Do" part of the message. Only 20% should be about the negative elements.

  • Spend 20% of your time talking about the problem.
  • Spend 80% talking about the possible solutions.

2. Use specific rather than vague language.

When speaking or writing, you have the choice to employ either:

  • Vague and general language, or
  • Precise and specific language.

For example, in each of the following pairs, which is the most specific use of language, and which is the most vague.

  • Dog / animal.
  • Burglary / crime.
  • Daughter / relative.
  • Just. / Ethical.
  • Money / Reward.

In each of the cases above, can you see that the first version, is more specific than the second?

The rule for effective communication is; Clarity is better than vagueness.

Unless you have a definite need to remain unclear, then you should strive for greater clarity in your verbal expression, ie say "Dog", rather than "animal".

Your task as a communicator, is to transfer the mental images that are in your mind and reproduce them CLEARLY in the listeners' minds.

You do that best by using clear, specific language.

3. Give logical reasons to support every opinion, plan or suggestion.

In addition to speaking in affirmative and specific terms, you need to provide good "reasons to believe" that what you are saying is true, good, right and practical.

  • You can prove "truth" by naming the facts that led to your conclusions.
  • You can prove "good", by naming the consequences that will follow, if your ideas are applied.
  • You can prove "right", by naming the moral principle that underpins your ideas.
  • You can prove "practical" by naming the steps that can be taken today, which will initiate progress, towards the achievement of the goal.

You must be able to demonstrate that some sound reasoning underpins your ideas.

If you cannot demonstrate there are good "Reasons to believe", then they will have NO reason to believe or accept your ideas.

Always think about the reasons why what you are saying is true, good, right and practical.

Always give people reasons to believe.

4. Always be polite.

Always treat everyone with politeness.

  • Even if you disagree with them; be polite.
  • Even if you are critiquing them; be polite.
  • Even if you don't like them; be polite.

Remember that any rude, vulgar, or abusive language says more about the speaker, than it does about the object of the conversation.

Always maintain your linguistic standards, and never drop below the level of politeness.

In order to be polite, here are two phrases you should learn and use, every day.

  1. "Instead of that, in future, would you please....... (plus, a request for a specific behaviour)".
  2. "Thank you very much for, XYZ, I very much appreciate it".

I use these two phrases regularly and would like to recommend them to you. For example:

"Instead of that, in future would you please, put the cup away after you have finished."

"Thank you very much for putting the cup away, I very much appreciate it."

Summary: How to improve your communication skills.

  1. Communicate an affirmative message.
  2. Use specific words and phrases.
  3. Provide some good logical "reasons to believe".
  4. Think about the way you speak to people - always be polite.

About the Author: Chris Farmer

Chris

Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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Further Reading in Communication - Clear Communication

  • Learn to Spot Logical Lies
    Don't let your thoughts and actions be governed by logical fallacies. Some people may use them to mislead you, or as a simple mistake. Learn to identify them so that you can be prepared to spot them.
    Read Article >
  • Improving Your Communication Skills
    Would you like to be a better communicator? Improve your communication skills with these simple, but effective, tips. Communication is not just what you say, it is learning how to be a better listener as well.
    Read Article >
  • What are good communication skills?
    In most areas of your life, the ability to communicate effectively is key to your success. Here are three tips to consider and put into practice today. Try our communication skills quiz to see where your strengths lie.
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  • The Most Important Question
    Many people speak in vague terms, or they don’t make themselves clear, so don't be afraid to ask them for clarification. It is dangerous to guess their meaning; ask the all important question before jumping to conclusions.
    Read Article >
  • How to Prevent Misunderstandings
    Not everyone is on the same wavelength as you, and therefore misunderstandings can occur when you speak to people. Whether your message is complex or your audience reluctant to listen, read our great tips to prevent misunderstandings happening.
    Read Article >

Looking for Communication Skills Training?

If you're looking to develop your Clear Communication Skills, you may find this Communication Skills Training Course beneficial:

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