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How to Improve Your Communication Skills - And Why It Matters

Whether you work independently or as part of a team, having strong communication skills is a key element to your success. While some people are born natural communicators, others may need a little help sometimes. No matter which category into which you fall, Penn Foster has some tips to help strengthen your skills.

Nicole Krempasky

Nicole Krempasky

The ability to communicate effectively is a skill we all need in order to achieve success, both personally and professionally. It impacts everything we do and can define the quality of our relationships. Communication skills are not something we’re typically taught, and even the most sociable people sometimes need a little help honing or improving different aspects of how they relate and communicate with their peers.

Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills

Just as there are various methods of communication, there are many ways to help improve how you communicate with others. These general tips can be applicable to any aspect of your life, no matter where your career path leads you:

  • Be a good listener. Many people assume that communication is all verbal. While being able to speak clearly is important, listening can be of equal value. Not only will you be more likely to understand information being relayed to you, but you’ll be more likely to understand the person delivering it, too. Being a good listener helps you understand their motivations in addition to showing them respect. If a person feels respected, they’re more apt to feel valued and trust you in return. This is an essential part of building strong interpersonal bonds in your professional and personal life. Be sure to listen actively and not just passively, too. Show you’re really paying attention by engaging and responding to what’s being said.
  • Be mindful of your body language. Sometimes what we don’t say is more telling than the words we use. Our facial expressions and the way we move or hold our bodies often express more telling details than what we say. For instance, folding your arms often appears standoff-ish. This can make you seem unapproachable. Be sure to make eye-contact while conversing, otherwise you may seem disinterested in the speaker or subject. Smiling, genuinely, also conveys interest.
  • Brevity. While you want to make sure you give enough information, you want to make sure you don’t give too much, either. Adding too many anecdotes or details can confuse the message and lose what’s really important in what you’re trying to convey. Going on too long about unrelated items can also easily lose peoples’ interest.
  • Be specific. Though we want to keep things brief so we don’t lose a person or group’s attention, you want to also be specific regarding your message. Emphasize the important parts and focus on those so you don’t leave anyone wondering what the point of the conversation was.
  • Know your audience. It’s also great to make people feel comfortable, but we all achieve that in different ways. Try to remember little details about the person to whom you’re speaking. Bringing these up later, like knowing their child’s name and inquiring after them, can be the little detail that makes an individual feel appreciated and heard. It’s also important to remember the role of the person. You wouldn’t speak to your professor or boss in the same casual tone you would with your best friend.

Why communication skills are important

Regardless of your career choice, strong communication skills can be the element that sets you above the rest, allowing you to build trust, manage conflict, foster creative spaces, and understand different people and situations. It can also help you make better, more informed decisions, as well as create positive experiences for yourself and those around you. Being a good communicator can prepare you to be a team player and instill leadership skills that can follow you throughout your career and life.

Take the next steps

Another great way to improve your career prospects is with education and certifications. Penn Foster offers a variety of affordable, online programs to help you learn new skills and information, from college to career. Take the next steps to building up your skills by calling our Admissions team at 1-888-427-6500 or enroll online today.

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