Communicating with people, though outwardly may seem an easy task, is actually an incredibly nuanced and difficult thing when you examine the nuts and bolts of all of the moving parts that happen beneath the surface of interpersonal interaction.
What seems at first to be a casual give-and-take is actually something very complex with numerous interpersonal verbal and non-verbal elements all working in coordination to allow two people to communicate their ideas with one another.
Often, problems arise when this coordination is co-opted by one party’s confusion or incompetence at a given element. But do not fear. Here are nine quick tips to improving your interpersonal communications skills that will get you in the game right away.
Always Address People By Name – This is the quickest, clearest skill to develop to let your conversation partner know you regard them as more than a sounding board. Something as simple as using their name will allow a much greater path toward mutual communication.
Be Ready To Adapt On The Fly – Learn to read the tells of your conversation partner and how to tailor what you need to say to optimize effectiveness as the conversation progresses. This skill will serve you well.
Make Your Case Explicitly – To improve your interpersonal communication skills, get to the point of what you wish to say and do not rely on implication to get your message across. Don’t make more work for your counterpart.
Don’t Leave Things Out – Include everything you need to say and all of the supporting facts and data to make your points.
Don’t Jump To Conclusions – The easiest way to improve your interpersonal communication skills is to avoid jumping to premature conclusions about your counterpart or what they are trying to say.
Avoid Assumptions – Also, avoid making assumptions as best as you can, as most often they are wrong, and work to inhibit communication. “Begin challenging your own assumptions,” said Alan Alda. “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
Own Your Speech – Use “I” and “me” and “mine” qualifiers as often as you can to mark your words as your own, and foster a sense of competency in your counterpart.
Strive For Clarity – Always be clear in interpersonal communication and do not rely on the hope that the other person understands “the gist” of what you were trying to say. Be clear and be direct.
Respond, Don’t React – This is perhaps the most crucial skill to learn in improving your interpersonal abilities. Respond thoughtfully and carefully to others, do not “react” because reaction is most often an unthinking (and disrespectful) activity.
There you go, you can improve your communication skills by adhering to each of these 9 tips throughout your social and work life.