Communication skills: 22 keys to improve them

Communication is essential for social life as we know it: we interact continuously. So it is very important to have good skills. Do you feel insecure when communicating? Do you have trouble speaking in public? Do you have trouble transmitting your ideas in writing? We explain the types of communication skills and how you can enhance them.

Communication skills

Table of Contents

Communication skills: definition and what they are for

We understand communication skills as the set of skills that allow adequate communication. For this, the individual uses all the sign systems of her sociocultural community. DH Hymes, creator of this concept, summarizes them in the following points:

  • When to speak
  • When not to speak
  • What to talk about
  • Who to talk to
  • When to speak
  • Where to speak
  • How to speak

Why are communication skills important?

We communicate daily with others and with our environment. Therefore, knowing how to use these skills is essential for personal growth and social growth . And can we develop them? Clear! They are not innate , but can be learned and improved .

Types of communication skills

Linguistic competence

It is the central pillar of communication. It refers to the acquisition and development of a language, and its subsequent mastery. Also at the level of language integration , understood as a system of articulated symbols that enables understanding between people. It allows us to think and express ourselves through words and their combination, as well as assign new terms to objects and sensations.

Paralinguistic competence

It is made up of additional elements that complement the language. We distinguish between oral resources (such as intonation, intent, etc.) and written resources (margins, bold, italics, capital letters, etc.).

For example, “friend” will have a different connotation if it is pronounced between two close colleagues (“thank you, friend”) than when it is said by a person who is going to argue with another (“you say that to my face, friend”). The tone is different.

Includes chronical competence , defined as the management of communication over time. That is, how long it takes to say something or the seconds we leave before responding.

Communication skills in everyday life

Sociolinguistic competence

Language depends on social culture , being inherent in the time and place in which it is used. That is, it varies according to the context . It includes extra-linguistic elements:

  • Kinesic competence. It is non-verbal communication : we carry it out through postures, gestures, looks, etc. It can complement, emphasize, and even contradict our words. It makes up to 80% of communication.
  • Proxemic competition. It is managing distances with others. Depending on the proximity, we distinguish between:
    • Intimate distance: 15 – 45 centimeters. Own family, partner and close friends. It is usually spoken in a low voice.
    • Personal distance: 45 – 120 centimeters. Own friends and acquaintances. A soft, relaxed voice is used.
    • Social distance: 1.2 – 3.5 meters. Own professional contacts, more impersonal.
    • Public distance: from 3.5 meters. Own speeches before an audience

Discursive competition

It is the logical and ordered succession of the ideas or arguments of the discourse . To correctly understand a message, we need its content to be cohesive and its points to be consistent. For example, when we tell a story, it must be consistent in its timeline and without events contradicting each other.

Pragmatic competence

It is the ability to convince and persuade other people, influencing their knowledge, opinions, attitudes, etc. It is very useful to achieve professional goals.

Strategic competence

It refers to the ability to correct possible errors while the speech is going on . Achieve effective communication by starting, maintaining, repairing, redirecting, or ending a conversation. For example, intervene in the face of prolonged silences, avoid misunderstandings, etc.

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Textual competence

It is defined as the comprehension and production of texts . To do this, we need to use three other competencies:

  • Cognitive competence. She relies on formal categories of thought to create arguments.
  • Communicative competence. It consists of the proper handling of language.
  • Technical competence. It is related to the use of writing devices.

What are good communication skills?

Observation and listening

By observing non-verbal language and listening to the interlocutor’s messages , in addition to the meaning of his words, we can infer his mental states . How? The Theory of Mind explains to us the attribution of these states. In this way, a good communicator is able to foresee the reactions of others, recognize them and adapt his communication to them.

Interpretation of context

The individual differences , social and cultural mark the characteristics of communication. For example, in Spain two kisses or handshakes are common to greet; however, in Japan they are not very given to physical contact in these circumstances. We must adapt to the place and the moment to know what to transmit and how to do it.

Learning

One of the most common resources to learn is modeling , that is, looking at another person to imitate their abilities. It can be done consciously or unconsciously. Good communicators seek to hone their communication skills by looking at the successes of others and how they have reached them.

Respect

Frequently, in many disputes, respect and education towards the interlocutor are lost when we think differently. The other person feels attacked and will hardly hear our posture. A good communicator accepts other points of view and argues with respect to defend his own . Thus, sensitive issues such as politics, religion or even football can be debated without anger.

Organization

It seems obvious to say that you must think before speaking , but it does not always apply. Having organized thinking makes it easier to put our ideas in order before expressing something verbally or in writing. An orderly message is always a more attractive message .

Self-efficacy

Obstacles are not difficulties, but challenges for a good communicator. They believe in themselves and in their possibilities . And it is not that they do not have doubts (who does not have them at some point?), But they do not let them make them sink their confidence in their worth.

They also don’t mind admitting they don’t know something . It is impossible to know everything.

Communication skills for effective communication

Emotional intelligence

Accepting other points of view also implies taking into account that these may be linked to emotions. A good communicator has high emotional intelligence , also standing out for his empathy and assertiveness . They know how to differentiate moments: what they can talk about, how to do it and under what circumstances it is better not to say anything.

Creativity and imagination

Creativity breaks monotony. A different message will attract more attention from our interlocutor. The examples , the stories or metaphors are good allies. Adapted to each situation, they will be able to connect with the emotions of others and support our message.

Errors as part of the process

Having all situations under control is impossible and it is normal for failures to arise. Instead of seeking perfection, good communicators focus on learning from imperfection .

Practice

Although communication skills are not innate, some people have more facilities to communicate than others. Does that mean they have it all done? No. If these skills are not exercised, they will not harness their potential. And, in the case of those with more difficulties, the practice will achieve great advances. The good communicator is not born, but is made .

Application of communication skills

Communication is present in any area of ​​our lives . Also when we talk to ourselves, either out loud or through thoughts. Next, we expose three contexts where communication skills take on special importance.

Family and social environment

Sometimes, we tend to forget the simplest rules for proper communication when we meet as a family. This usually occurs due to overconfidence or lack of it. Yelling at each other between siblings, reminding our roommate that this time it’s his turn to clean the bathroom, telling our parents what we really want to study (and more if this contradicts certain expectations), etc., are examples where communication usually fails. . Communication skills, along with social skills, save effort, avoid misunderstandings, and generally liven up our daily lives.

Educational scope

We already know that these skills are learned. It is convenient to train them since we are little. In this way, they will end up being applied naturally and will allow a better adaptation to the environment.

For this reason, it is essential to include the development of communication skills in teaching . Good communication is vital not only for later and more complex learning, but for development as people: it provides autonomy, resolution and satisfaction. It allows a better understanding and facilitates the expression of oneself.

Labor sphere

In any job, a proper relationship with colleagues and bosses is essential, knowing how to function in teamwork, finding good solutions for the problems that arise, making sound decisions, etc. Therefore, communication skills are highly valued in the curriculum today. In job interviews, they give a very positive image of the candidate.

On the other hand, they are especially important in commercial and persuasion activities . Potential customers will be better reached if certain influence techniques are mastered.

22 keys to improve your communication skills

1. Analyze yourself and the environment

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Watch yourself. What do you do well? What do you need to improve on? And how can you get it? Look at how those people who succeed in transmitting their messages do it .

At first, it will be an exercise, but soon you will see how it becomes an automatic process. And don’t evaluate yourself with disproportionate toughness. Remember that walking is learned by walking .

2. Bet on simplicity

We tend to think that heavy expressions and pompous words demonstrate how cultured we are. But, with few exceptions, all they do is complicate the understanding of our message. Does this mean that we should limit our language to the simple? No way. Enriching vocabulary is always an advantage, but you have to know how to distinguish when to use some words and when to use others .

3. Look for the authentic

We should not reduce ourselves to presenting ourselves as a character that we are not, although many times we do it to adapt to the situation. Sound forced or artificial diminishes our credibility and we can also generate mistrust. The natural is always the best option, even in different contexts. Show yourself as you are . Who is not willing to accept you, may not be the best company.

4. Resort to honesty

Lying is one of the things that sticks very quickly to a person’s image. It generates anger and can cause a great loss of confidence . Furthermore, for a lie not to be discovered, it needs not to contradict itself; It will be like a snowball: it will get bigger and bigger. Therefore, it is better to face the truth with respect and assertiveness than to tell a lie, the only thing it will do is make the situation more complicated.

5. Train assertiveness

It is a fundamental skill for good communication. It allows us to defend our own position while respecting the opinions of others, protecting our opinions without aggressiveness . In a society prone to bad ways, make a difference from respect!

6. Emphasize your words

The message is not only made up of words, as we have seen, but they influence many other aspects. For example, use pauses and intonations that draw attention to the other person. They will bring freshness and make your messages more interesting.

7. Paraphrase

The paraphrase technique is to express your ideas in different ways . You will make your point of view clear and it will also serve to reaffirm yourself and others.

8. Practice active listening

Listening is not simply hearing the words that come to us. If we want to be active in our listening, we must ensure that the other person feels cared for and understood from empathy. The conversation will be more effective and the relationship with our interlocutor will improve .

9. Consider your interlocutor

We are all different and equally valid. This includes the way of thinking. Depending on the economic, sociocultural, educational level, etc., our point of view can be one or the other. And even sharing them, we can have completely different internal worlds. Believing that everyone should have an opinion like us is a serious mistake.

Observing our interlocutor allows us to adapt to him. Use your resources!

10. Anticipate reactions

Although you can imagine the reactions of your interlocutor, never take them for granted. Being prepared for unexpected reactions will make you feel more confident about possible setbacks. You can even have a counter-argument or some strategy prepared beforehand in case that happens. Keep your back!

11. Lean on non-verbal language

The gestures , expressions , neatness , costumes , etc. they also influence how they see us. Try to control these aspects so as not to transmit something you don’t want. For example, do not gesture excessively, pay attention to your movements, take care of your wardrobe … Of course, always depending on each context.

12. Don’t avoid eye contact

Avoiding the interlocutor’s gaze denotes insecurity. Therefore, we must try to look each other in the eye, thus showing confidence . eye! A gaze too fixed can cause the opposite effect and become aggressive. You have to reach a middle ground.

13. Don’t interrupt

Interrupting when another person is talking doesn’t feel very good, it is considered disrespectful . Also, this will make it impossible for you to fully understand what your interlocutor is trying to tell you. If you have this bad habit, delete it from the map!

Communication skills and success

14. Do not finish the sentences of others

Finishing other people’s sentences not only does not help in communication, but often causes anger . You can transmit abuse of power.

15. Go for a good mood

The smile is a resource that is often undervalued: it is very simple to use and very easy to spread. It is true that not all situations allow for a carefree and cheerful attitude, but empathy is something that we can always maintain.

Being kind also benefits us. The days are more pleasant when we don’t frown continuously.

16. Use visual techniques

Do you have to expose for an audience? If there is a possibility, don’t be shy: illustrations , photos and even videos can enhance your message. You can also use the psychology of colors to create and strengthen links with your listeners. Information linked to the emotional is best remembered. A picture is worth a thousand words!

17. Try not to lose your cool

We tend to get nervous in specific circumstances: an exam, public speaking, communicating with someone who upsets us, etc. Our communication skills may be diminished. Trying to stay calm is a good way to preserve them. There are certain activation control techniques (such as muscle relaxation or breathing techniques ) that will be very helpful.

18. Manage your emotions

It is impossible to separate ourselves from our emotions. However, allowing those that are very intense (especially the negative ones) to interfere with communication is not recommended. We already know that this flows better from serenity, and the same thing happens with decision making. If we see that we are not capable, it will be best to postpone the conversation for when we are calmer.

19. Acknowledge your mistakes

Your worth is not going to fall for recognizing that you have made a mistake. On the contrary, the capacity for self – criticism and the desire for improvement brings us closer to others. Trying to cover up mistakes and not being willing to give in only fuels pride that leads nowhere.

20. Keep trust in yourself

Self-insecurity can ruin an exam, the presentation you’ve put together with so much effort, or even a simple conversation. Remember: mistakes are not drama and can be fixed. It will make it easier for you to maintain confidence .

21. Get inspired

Today we can find many books and articles aimed at improving communication skills. Another good option is literature : in addition to satisfying our hobby, it illustrates us with various ways of transmitting it in written form. On the Internet we can also find numerous expert talks on any subject. Observe how they express themselves, what elements they use to get their message across.

22. Enjoy your own communication

Communication is vital to human existence. Nor is it a secret that the other species, in their own way, communicate with each other. Wherever you look, there is interaction. Trying to improve it will make us enjoy more of the experiences it makes us live.

Although communication skills are not innate, some people have more facilities to communicate than others. Does that mean they have it all done? No. If these skills are not exercised, they will not harness their potential. And, in the case of those with more difficulties, the practice will achieve great advances. The good communicator is not born, but is made .

 

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