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Three Ways to Improve your Communication Skills

Three ways to improve your communication skills

How can you improve your communication skills?

Communication is important to you because you use your communication to gain the cooperation of others. You need the cooperation of others: you need cooperation from your colleagues, your suppliers, your customers, and your family. If you cannot gain the cooperative assistance of others then you won't be able to achieve your goals.

If you can gain the cooperative assistance from your colleagues, your suppliers, your boss, your customers and your family, then, the chances are, that you will make good progress towards the achievement of your goals.

In order to gain the cooperation of others you need to be a good communicator. Poor communication will result in misunderstandings, confusions, disagreements and errors. On the other hand, excellent communication will result in better understandings, clarity of purpose, agreements and accuracy.

Excellent communication will help you to bring home excellent results for yourself and your family.

How can you improve your communication skills?

Here are three guidelines: principles of communication that will help you.

  1. Define your major terms. Always strive to define exactly what you mean.
  2. Give a reason for your statements. Justify your message by some kind of logic.
  3. If you are making a suggestion, attach to it a personal motivation to act.

Let us look at each one in turn.

1. Define your major terms. Always strive to define exactly what you mean

When you are speaking or writing, you always have options about which words to use, to express any thought. You could use a specific wording; or a non specific, ambiguous wording.

The rule I want to suggest is that you should, generally, strive to use as specific wording as is possible. Give the most exact wording that your knowledge permits.
For example, don't say, "He was rude to me." Say instead. "He pointed his finger at me as he spoke, and he called me stupid".

Be as precise and accurate in your use of language, as you can.
Don't say, "Bring me back some milk on the way home please". Instead say, "Would you please bring me back two pints of semi skimmed milk?"
The verbal habit of exactitude will mean that you will have fewer misunderstandings and therefore will have fewer upsets.
Be precise and accurate in your choice of wording.

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2. Give a reason for your statements. Justify your message by some form of logic

Precise language will give the other person a clear idea of what you want.

Your next step is to give the reason.

Everything has a reason. Everything you do and say should be for a reason.
You should never act without a reason.
Everything you say should have a reason and should be seen to be reasonable.

If you don't give reasons for what you say, then your message will seem to be either:

  • Not reasonable
  • Irrational
  • Arbitrary

Tell the person the reasons why you are making the points you are making.

Reasons come in two types:

  • Purposes
  • Causes

Purpose: Everything you do is to achieve a purpose, or....
Cause: Your action was the response to a previous cause.

So relate everything you say to either a "future purpose" or a "previous cause".

"Please bring home two pints of semi skimmed milk; we will need it for teas and coffees tonight." (Purpose).
"Please bring home two pints of semi skimmed milk; you drank the last of it, last night". (Cause)

3. If you are making a suggestion. Attach to it a self-interested motivation to act

The finishing touch to improving your communication, is to personalise your message by linking it directly to your listeners or readers own self-interest: Meaning, give your listener a personal reason to care.

If you don't give the other person a personal motivation to care, he probably won't care and his response will be weak.

For example if you said,
"Oh look John. Someone has backed their lorry into the back of a car in the car park." You might not get Johns attention.

But if you said
"Oh look John. Someone has backed their lorry into the back of your car, in the car park"

Then you will get Johns attention!

Remember that most people are self-interested.

They care most about themselves and their family, first. (Not about you or your family first).
So try to make a connection between the content of your message and the personal interest of your reader.

For example you will see that I tried to do that at the beginning of this piece by linking clear communication to the achievement of your goals.

I wrote:
Excellent communication will help you to bring home excellent results for yourself and your family.

This motivation was a deliberate attempt to give you a reason to care, and cause you to read the rest of the message.

If you are reading this line, then it worked.

Rule three is:

Give a personal motivation.
If you don't motivate your listener to listen, then they may not listen for very long.
If you do motivate them, then they will listen for longer.

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