Communication skills are vital to becoming successful in business and life. People long for a connection with others and being able to communicate well will help build beneficial relationships. Since the increased popularity of social media, people are spending more time communicating in a casual informal way. This is causing people to forget the importance of formal communication skills in the workplace. Great leaders possess the ability to communicate well which contributes to their success.

Here are some things to focus on to improve your communication skills:

1. Listen to others:

Listen and take in what the other person is saying. People often hear what they want to hear and respond without actually taking in what the other person said. This will cause their respect for you to diminish and they won’t take you seriously. Maintain full focus on the person you are talking with and give them your undivided attention.

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2. Understand Body language:

You can gain a lot by how people use body language and non-verbal communication. For example; if someone has their arms crossed while talking to you, they may not share the same views as you or are not willing to speak to you about the topic you are discussing. Make sure you use body language effectively too, which will make you appear more open and approachable. Maintaining eye contact will show you are focusing on the other person/persons. Knowing how to read people’s body language and how to use your body language to communicate will increase the effectiveness of your communication and your responses.

3. Keep things short and to the point:

Practice keeping things short and to the point when you communicate verbally and in writing. Overcomplicating things by giving too much information or straying from the topic at hand, can cause confusion and cause you to be misunderstood. Focus on keeping things simple so you will be able to communicate your point across clearly and have less chance of being misunderstood.

4. Communicate with people in the right way:

Using abbreviated, informal language in professional situations is not a good idea. Using the appropriate language based on who you are talking to, will allow the other person to take you seriously. Communicating with a business associate in the same way you would a friend, will make you look unprofessional and won’t get you anywhere. Knowing how to communicate with certain people will help you get the most out of the conversation.

5. Think before you speak:

It’s always a good idea to think before you speak. Blurting out something without thinking can cause problems, especially in the business world. Taking a moment to pause and think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, will allow you to avoid any awkwardness.

6. Take notes in a business environment

Always take notes and ask questions when in any business meeting or discussion. Memory can be a fleeting thing and you can’t expect to remember every detail about the meeting. Taking notes will show you are paying attention and intend to action the information you are writing down.

7. Re-read things before you send any written communication:

Another effective way of communicating is via written communication. Make sure your spelling and grammar are correct in emails or letters before sending them on. Having spelling and grammar mistakes will make you seem uneducated and your written correspondence may not be read properly. Letters and emails can also be misunderstood if worded incorrectly so always reread what you have written to make sure it’s clear and professional.

8. Sometimes talking to someone can be more effective:

In the world today, people use a lot of non-formal communication via text messages, email, and social media. Sometimes it can be easier and quicker to communicate by picking up the phone, instead of writing a long-winded message.

9. Keep smiling and maintain positivity:

Your attitude plays a big part in your communication. Maintaining a positive attitude will help you to communicate effectively. It’s more likely the other person will pay attention to what you are saying. When you emanate positivity, people will tend to respond positively to you as well.

Proper communication skills can be learnt by anyone. Adopting effective ways of communicating will help you to advance in life and contribute to your success in business. It’s never too late to start making your communication skills better.

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