About a year ago, I learned the Indian Sign Language through an organization run by deaf artists.
A bunch of us took weekly sessions, and practiced communicating using sign language.
I can’t tell you how grounding and heartening that experience was.
Though I had been dealing with communication skills long before I took this course, it was during these sessions that I realized the importance of communication, and how deeply it forms us and our habits.
I am using this blog to share all I have understood about communication, and how to learn the communication skills in this big, bad world.
Table of Contents
- What is Communication?
- What are The Types of Communication Skills?
- Importance of Communication Skills
- 12 Ways to Learn Communication Skills
- 1. Decide the language and medium
- 2. Dedicate some time to learn
- 3. Set goals
- 4. Form a habit
- 5. Read, and read some more
- 6. Practice, practice, practice
- 7. Learn to think and communicate
- 8. Note your learnings
- 9. Work on your body language
- 10. Know the topic well
- 11. Listen to understand, and then react
- 12. Focus on what the audience wants to hear
- Best Resources to Learn Communication Skills
What is Communication?
Communication is the act or the method to express oneself and exchange information, feelings or anything as well as consume information…basically.
Reading this blog? It’s how I am communicating with you about how important these skills are.
Tweeting a thought? That’s how you are communicating your feelings to your followers.
Sharing a picture on Instagram? That’s you communicating with your followers about your recent pictures.
Watching a video on YouTube? That’s you understanding and learning about a topic.
So, you see, the medium and approach to communication may change with generations, but the fundamentals are the same.
What are Communication Skills?
Communication skills are defined as the ability to communicate and express yourself clearly and effectively to your audience without losing their interest.
Surprisingly (not so much), a lot of us think that communication skills include learning, speaking, and understanding the English language.
I am sure you will level with me here.
But, in essence, communication skills have as much to do with English as they have with any other language on the planet.
However, the rise of English as a global language has changed people’s perception towards learning it and connecting it with these skills.
That being said, you can learn communication skills even though you don’t know English.
What are The Types of Communication Skills?
If we go with basics, here are the primary types of communication skills you should be aware of:
Speaking clearly, effectively and appropriately is an art.
That does not just include the words or the tone you use, but also the timing of all of it.
As a result, it is one of the most important communication skills. No matter which language you are familiar with, you should know when, how, and what to speak and when to keep silent.
It’s said that we often don’t listen to understand, but to react.
And it is easier that way.
But, more often than not, we do not need to give a logical reasoning to anything being said, but just listen to it and understand the speaker’s point of view.
In my opinion, listening takes precedence over speaking.
Believe it or not, reading takes up 80% of our day-to-day life.
From the shortest of texts and slangs to long-form contents like blogs and more, we consume a significant amount of content through reading.
That’s not to say that you read random things, but reading what’s right for you and having important takeaways from that content is the key to a good communication skill.
4. Watching (Seeing)
Another communication skill is to watch or see. Your eyes are a primary source of feelings and emotions.
This makes you convey your thoughts simply without adultering them with untrue information.
One of the most sought after forms of communication is writing.
And if you ask me, you must learn it, no matter if you are a good writer or not.
I am not asking you to write a book or a blog, but simple things for day-to-day communication are necessary to be learnt and conveyed.
Writing is a part of that.
Do you remember, we studied the basics of computers in school? We were taught that the mouse and keyboard are input devices, while printers and speakers are an output device.
Just like that, watching (seeing), listening and reading are input devices for human communication, whereas writing and speaking are output devices.
Importance of Communication Skills
Wow, I have talked so much about communication that this seems like a moot point.
But, I will still share some sureshot reasons for you to learn communication skills.
1. Helps with better understanding
Communication skills, used in any form, help you with better and deeper understanding of other people.
When you listen to others, you understand their point of views and take better actions for overall improvement.
For example, communication keeps most of the misunderstandings at bay in relationships, professional and personal alike.
2. Boosts individual growth
For the first year of my employment at my previous job, I hardly spoke with anyone beyond my team members.
One day, I was given a task and asked to share it with my co-founder. To that day, till now, you simply can’t shut me up when I speak.
Suffice to say, my communication skills made me more accessible and trustworthy for my team members and seniors.
Communication skills help you present yourself and your ideas in a structured manner.
Consequently, you are more likely to get more exposure and opportunities in your career; which eventually boosts personal development.
97% of employees believe that communication impacts their task efficacy on a daily basis.CMS Wire
3. Makes you a team player
If you are working in a team (which someday or the other, you will have to), you NEED to be able to communicate. Otherwise, you will be lost and forgotten in no time.
I am not scaring you. I am merely stating the facts.
That is precisely why Slack has built a successful communication and collaboration application (read their full story here).
Communication skills help you get a deeper grasp of your work, and mindsets of your team members, thus making you a better team player.
4. Keeps your conscience clear
Good communication skills enable you to speak your mind and share your feelings whenever needed.
This keeps your conscience clear and away from lies or corporate politics.
5. Improves mental health
Do I really need to elaborate this?
Clear conscience, empathy and cooperation from your loved ones happens because of effective communication skills, which improves your overall mental health.
Being able to communicate your feelings well helps you accept and cope up with them.
6. Makes you confident
Until I was not putting my communication skills to proper use, I was a diffident professional.
I was unsure about the work I was doing, and not confident enough to talk about my performance with my seniors.
Now, 7 years later, I know what I am doing is good, and more importantly, my readers like what I write.
Employees who feel their voice is heard in the workplace are almost five times more likely (4.6x) to feel empowered to deliver their best work.SalesForce
Communication skills drive self-confidence, just like they did in me.
How to Learn Communication Skills?
Up until now, I kept talking about what awesome communication skills are, why they are so important and blah blah.
Now, let’s talk about the “how” part. Here are some tried and tested tips to learn communication skills.
And when I say “tried and tested”, it means I practice them myself.
1. Decide the language and medium
The first step to learning communication skills is to decide which language you want to focus on.
Say, English (duh!).
Great. Now, which medium or channel do you want to use for communication?
It can be emailing, speaking, blogging, social media or anything.
Why pick a channel? Because that will help you narrow down on the tone of voice and focus on one aspect of communication at a time.
2. Dedicate some time to learn
One step in and you’re already at the hard part.
But, nothing worth it comes easily, does it?
To learn anything, you need to dedicate yourself, time and efforts to it. Be it even 15 minutes of the day.
Why! That’s how I have a 500 day streak of learning Spanish on Duolingo. Though, they have made such an amazing app for language learning, that I couldn’t resist even if I wanted to.
Put aside some time to learn communication skills, without distractions and restrictions.
3. Set goals
So, you dedicated some time to learning, great!
Next step is to set goals, because let’s face it, what’s learning without goals?
Do you want to learn how to speak well?
Do you want to improve your vocabulary?
Do you want to consume relevant content?
Based on your purpose, define your goals and keep them as your benchmarks.
This way, you will know how far you have come to achieve them every time you learn.
4. Form a habit
There’s one thing to dedicate some random hours to learning these skills.
And, entirely other to form it into a habit. Afterall, we are creatures of habit.
If you have ever come across a fitness challenge or a program, most of them are for 21 or 28 days and more. Why, 21 days? Ever wondered?
Because, it takes about 21 days for humans to form a habit.
So, form a habit to learn communication skills and put them to effective use.
5. Read, and read some more
When I say “read”, I mean “consume content”. No matter which format you go for, videos, blogs, articles, podcasts – anything, just focus on consuming content as much as you can in the language you have picked.
I know, you will think of this as outside your comfort zone, but it will help you visualize the language as a part of your daily conversations.
Not to mention, it will expand your vocabulary, which will enable you to communicate better.
By the way, my habit of reading books made me capable of using language as a part of communication effectively. 😎
6. Practice, practice, practice
Well, I cannot, I simply cannot put enough emphasis on this.
Practice may not make you perfect, but I guarantee that it will make you better.
Practice what you learn, every day.
Practice with your friends and family.
Practice with yourself.
Practice with your team members.
If you want to learn writing, start writing anecdotes on a daily basis and share them with your family and friends. See if they understand the meaning you wanted to convey. If it happens, it is a win.
7. Learn to think and communicate
A crucial yet, often overlooked part of communication skills is this.
We all know about “think and act”. Similar to this, if you are learning any communication skill, especially speaking and writing, you need to think and communicate.
Random words, spoken or written, are never appropriate.
So, whenever you are expressing yourself through these methods, be careful about the message you are conveying to ensure that the recipients understand it clearly.
8. Note your learnings
You might take me as a nerd, but I still carry a notepad with me to jot down meeting notes, ideas and anything I learnt.
Writing things down always clears your head from all possible doubts and questions.
So, keep jotting down whatever you learn in communication skills from time to time for better recall.
Feel free to use your phone notepad or any other app to make notes.
9. Work on your body language
One of the most primary factors of good communication skills is body language. Especially, when you are interacting in-person.
Your hand movements, your eye contact, your posture, the way you stand, your facial expressions — all these define your body language and set the tone of the conversation you are having with anyone.
10. Know the topic well
I have learned this the hard way.
Once, I participated in an extempore and elocution competition. I was speaking in the elocution and a classmate in extempore. Turns out, she had bailed on me and left me to fend for myself in both rounds. As you can tell, I did not win the competition, because I had not read about the extempore topics.
To communicate properly with someone, you need to know the topic of the discussion well.
If you don’t, you may falter while putting up your points and lose confidence.
In case of meetings and presentations, research and understand the topics properly to ensure that you are able to share your findings clearly.
11. Listen to understand, and then react
We humans have our defenses up, as a rule.
Someone speaks a word, and we are ready to fight a war.
This step goes on the contrary to our inherent nature. Listen to understand one’s perspective first, empathize if you need to, and then react.
This approach will help you improve your communication skills and even make you a better person.
12. Focus on what the audience wants to hear
We always speak for ourselves, don’t we?
Speak for the listener. Write for the reader.
Since you are not the one who will be consuming the content, you should not communicate what you think is right.
Rather, you need to put yourself in the audience’s shoes, understand what they want to hear from you, and form your message accordingly.
Just like this blog. I know many of you are or have struggled with communication skills. So, I wrote it for you with some steps you can take to improve them.
Best Resources to Learn Communication Skills
While there’s no shortage for people and institutes teaching communication skills, they will be only effective if you put your heart to it.
I am sharing some resources I have come across, to help you with your communication skills.
- Books (any and all)
- YouTube Channels
- Local English or language learning courses
- Online courses
- Movies (any and all)
And many, many more.
From being a girl who could not finish her Republic Day speech and froze right in front of the entire school, to someone who is not afraid to speak her mind when needed, I have come a long way. And I owe a good part of it to communication skills and the boost they have given to my personality.
Communication is a give and take relationship, be it ideas, understanding, feelings and all that you can think of.
Communication skills can be tricky, but putting them to practice at the right time in the right manner is an art, which all of us need to be aware of.
Considering how competitive the world is getting out there, how you communicate and share your ideas is a deciding factor for various organizations.
When team members are offered better communication technology and skills, productivity can increase by up to 30%.
That’s why, The Clueless Company provides communication skills training for freshers and professionals.
If not for anyone else, I urge you to do it for yourself.
How do you plan to start? Drop a comment and share with me.