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How can I Improve My Communication Skills?

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Posted 25 September 2014 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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• Bespoke in-house training.
These can be tailored to your specific needs.
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You may find the following will help with the development of your communication skills training.

How can I improve my communication skills?

Do you have problems expressing yourself, verbally?

Many people do. Many people have problems finding the words to express their thoughts, ideas, opinions and feelings. This lack of verbal expression is a problem since, to achieve your goals, you need to gain the cooperative assistance of others; and to gain that cooperative assistance you need to make others understand your message; and to do that you need to verbalise your message in clear terms.

So it is important that you know the answer to this question.

How can you improve your communication skills?


There are three ways to improve any aspect of your performance:

  1. You can stop doing some of the wrong things.
  2. You can start doing more of the right things.
  3. You can do both: You can stop doing wrong things and simultaneously start doing more right things.

But in order to do that you need to know what are the common errors that people make in their communication, and what are some of the corrective principles of good communication.

Let us make a list of three common errors and their corresponding three good practices. That will give you an action plan of six items to focus on.

Let us start:

1. Too much destructive criticism

Many people spend a lot of time in destructive criticism. Complaining. Bitching. Moaning. They complain about the management. They complain about the weather. They complain about the traffic. They complain about the customers.

This type of criticism is no good to anyone.

Are you a complainer?

If you do spend a lot of time complaining, then make it your major priority to stop.
Nobody likes a grump.

Criticism is good if, and only if, it is constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is specific, intended to help, and comes complete with a suggestion for an adaptive change.

An example of constructive criticism is as follows, "You have used the wrong word here. You have got the word, principle, and you mean the word Principal. In future remember that you need to check your vocabulary more carefully and not rely too heavily on spell checker."

Can you see that the above is constructive criticism?

2. Ambiguous language

There are many words and phrases that are ambiguous, meaning; they have multiple meanings. But usually when you speak you want your words to have one meaning only. If you have in mind one meaning, but your words leave your meaning open to multiple interpretations, then you will be storing up trouble for the future.

For example. If you say, "Please come to the event appropriately dressed". Can you see that the phrase, "appropriately dressed" is too vague, it is imprecise?

If you said, "Would you please send me those documents, A.S.A.P.?" Can you see that the use of the phrase A.S.A.P. renders your message prone to misunderstanding and confusion?

As a general rule, strive to use words in as precise a way as possible. Give your exact meaning, as best as you can. Then you run less risk of being misunderstood.

For example, you could have said, "Please come to the event tonight and please make sure you are dressed in a tidy suit, shirt and tie. This is a formal business event and we need to look business-like."

3. Misuse of humour

Having a sense of Humour is good.
But not always.

Some people make the terrible error of thinking that it is always good to laugh.

They have heard that it is good to laugh. They have heard that people like others who display a good sense of humour. They know that their ability to see the lighter side of life and their ability to laugh has bought benefits in the past.

But then they make a mistake and overuse humour and begin to misapply it.

They laugh at the wrong things. They make light of things that are serious. They laugh at their colleague's new haircut. They laugh at their boss. They laugh at their friend when he falls over. And they start to act the clown. They clown around. They laugh too much. They become a joke.

Would you agree that Boris Johnson probably wants to be the prime minister? The problem is that he has presented himself to the public as a bit of a clown. A good laugh. The Funny Guy. But do you want the Funny Guy as prime minister, representing Britain's vital interests at the world conference.

No.

Would you trust The Funny Guy with the codes to the nuclear weapons?

No.

The mistake that many people make is to mistime their use of humour.

Be careful at whom and at what you laugh.

Don't laugh at your boss. Don't laugh at your wife or husband. Don't laugh at your kids. Don't laugh at your friend or customer. And don't make yourself the butt of your own jokes. Don't make yourself out to be a clown.

So what should you laugh at?

Laugh instead at your enemy. Laugh at your setbacks. Laugh at your problems. Laugh at evil. Laugh at the things you wish to diminish.

Whatever you laugh at loses its power.

So don't laugh at yourself, or you will seem to lose your power.

It is interesting to note how many people who are professional comedians are also depressives in their own personal lives. Robbin Williams. Kenneth Williams. Benny Hill. Tommy cooper. Tony Hancock. Richard Prior. It is interesting.

Humour is a double edged sword.

Use it wisely.

Communication Skills Training

Communication Skills Training

Do you ever think to yourself, "I know what I mean, but I can't explain it"? You need to be able communicate facts, feelings, information and ideas, in a clear, professional and confident manner. If you want to learn more about our communication skills training, please click here.

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