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Tips to Improve your Communication Skills

Tips to Improve your communication skills

Tips to improve your communication skills

It's true, isn't it, that almost everyone would benefit if they improved their ability to communicate?
Since, in order to achieve your goals, you need to gain the cooperative assistance of others, and since you are not telepathic, then you rely on your ability to communicate.

Therefore, wouldn't you benefit if you trained yourself to become a better communicator?

Some people are brilliant communicators. They have got "the gift of the gab".
But sadly, most of us are not brilliant communicators. We don't have sparkling wit, nor dazzling charisma and we lack the gift of the gab.
The good news is that you don't need the gift of the gab in order to be a great communicator.

Why not?

Because one of the secrets of good communicators is to: Listen more than you speak.

Why should you listen more than you speak?

Because most people are more influenced by what they think, than by what you think.
And if you tell them what you think, then they will not necessarily be impressed.
Rather than to tell people what you think, your task is to ask questions.
Ask intelligent questions that lead the conversation: rather than make statements that tend to push the conversation.

Lead people with questions, don't push people with statements

Conversationally, don't be too pushy.

If you push people too much, what do they tend to do?

Push back.

Lead people by developing the art of asking intelligently directed questions.

The Socratic approach to teaching

Have you ever heard of Socrates?
Socrates was a Greek philosopher and was famous for his method of teaching which was by leading the student by asking questions.
By asking questions Socrates led the other person to accept ideas, not by telling, but by the power of suggestion.

The idea is to ask questions rather than make your argument.

How could you use questions when in conversation?
Here are some ways you may want to consider:

1. Ask questions to keep the other person talking

The most important skill of the good conversationalist is to keep the conversation on the other person.

Whose opinion is the most important opinion, to you?
Answer: your own.
And the same is true for everyone else. Everyone is most convinced by their own opinion.

So, if you want to be a good conversationalist, keep asking the other to express their opinion. And listen to their answer, (whether you agree with it or not).

  • If you do agree, then nod your head and say: "I agree".
  • If you don't agree, then nod your head and say: "I understand- I have never thought of it that way before".

2. Ask questions in order to clarify the meaning

Whenever a person speaks he- she will use words and phrases that have multiple possible interpretations.
For example; if you heard the other person say: "I didn't say he kicked his dog".

Does that mean?

"I didn't say he kicked his dog"
"I didn't say he kicked his dog"
"I didn't say he kicked his dog"
"I didn't say he kicked his dog"
"I didn't say he kicked his dog"
"I didn't say he kicked his dog"

There is often plenty of scope for misinterpretation of the message.
So before you respond, it is often a wise precaution to ask a clarifying question:
When you said, "I didn't say he kicked his dog". Could you just clarify what you mean?
"Could you just clarify what you mean?" is an all important question and you may want to use it more frequently.

3. Ask questions in order to challenge what the other person has said

If you don't agree with the other person's point of view and if you want to challenge him, don't say, "You're wrong! This is how it really is......".
Instead ask a question. You might state your objection like this:
"I understand that you think taxes on the rich should be increased in order to pay for public services, but how would you stop the rich people leaving the country in order to evade your taxes and in order to live in countries that don't penalise them for being financially successful?. How would you stop what used to be called, the brain drain?"
Asking questions is a powerful way to challenge another person without being too antagonistic.

4. Ask questions in order to gain minor agreements

Is it possible to formulate questions that tend to trigger people to say "Yes"?
Is that possible? Yes.

Wouldn't it be a good idea to get into the verbal habit of asking questions that illicit an affirmative response from your listener?
Do you think you could soon learn to do that? Yes.

Professional sales people all learn this technique of gaining "minor yesses"; in order to build up a feeling of agreement and rapport.
Once you get the hang of it, asking simple yes getting questions is an easy skill to master.

Why not start a conversational game?
Don't tell anyone you are doing it, but try to see how many times you can get people to say "yes", to you in a conversation. The more yesses you get, the more agreeable you seem and the more correct you seem to the other person, which gives you a head start when you want to make a point.
Do you get the concept of yes getting?

5. Ask questions to change the subject

Of course, life is not necessarily about making points and arguing the toss. So the last way you could use your questioning skills is to gently guide the conversation off the contentious topic and move it onto a fresh, non-contentious topic.
The way you can do that is to ask a question, starting with the phrase, "By the way,....." and then you tag on an easy question that has the effect of steering the conversation onto a different tack.
"By the way, what did you think about that thing on the news last night?"
You could skilfully guide conversations by using intelligent questions, couldn't you? Yes.

Then would you please, practice these five skills?

  1. Ask questions to keep the other person talking.
  2. Ask questions in order to clarify the meaning.
  3. Ask questions in order to challenge what the other person has said.
  4. Ask questions in order to gain minor agreements.
  5. Ask questions to change the subject.

How can you improve your communication skills?

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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.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


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 - Persuasive Communication

  • Understanding vs Agreement
    Whenever presenting ideas or negotiating with others, it is crucial to make your audience clearly understand your message. Without understanding you cannot hope to gain their agreement.
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  • The Way You Speak to People
    Learn to speak properly to people and you will gain their willing cooperation to help you. Negative talk tends to repel people.
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  • How to improve interpersonal communications skills
    How to improve interpersonal communications skills Here is an interesting question: "What makes some people more effective communicators than others?" Let us investigate! Communication is defined as "the transfer of information and-or emotion". Communication skills training is important because, in order to achieve your goals, you need to be able to...
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  • Why are Some People Dangerous?
    Most people would consider themselves rational, and a few may be inspiring. A great leader is both rational and inspiring. However, the inspirational but irrational communicator, is a dangerous combination.
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  • Interpersonal communication skills
    Interpersonal communication skills Interpersonal communication skills are those communication skills that you need when you are face to face with others, as opposed to using media such as telephone or emails. Interpersonal communications skills are those skills that are born from your use of you're: Voice tones Body language Verbal language...
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