Communication is a huge part of our day to day lives. Whether you're meeting up with friends, discussing an issue with a colleague, or sending an important email, understanding the best ways to communicate boosts your chances for success in personal interactions and wider life.
No matter how great your technical skills are, communication is often the lynchpin to success. So, here's 5 Self Development Habits to Improve Communication.
Habit #1 - Learn Listening Skills
For self development habits to improve communication, your conversations need to be two-way. Often, especially when we have something exciting to say, it can be easy to burst into speech, talking over the other person. There are so many conversations where we barely hear what the other person has said.
Sometimes we have to relearn listening skills. Rather than listening passively, you need to engage with what the other person says.
Listen closely to their words. How do you feel about what they're saying? Do you have questions to ask them? Remember what you're trying to achieve through the conversation - maybe they're explaining a work issue, or maybe you're trying to boost your friendship with someone. Active listening shows that you're genuinely interested in what they say.
Habit #2 - Ask for Feedback
Another way to improve communication is to actively request feedback from the people you speak with. The more you learn to analyse and discuss your strengths and weaknesses openly, the more you will open your mind and build your communication skills.
When you're working on a project, ask colleagues how well you conveyed your ideas. Could they understand clearly what you were trying to get across? Were there any particular communication issues? Adapting to constructive feedback is one of the most important self development habits to improve communication.
Habit #3 - Assert Yourself
Good communication doesn't just work for listening to the ideas of others, but helps you to get more in tune with your own ideas. To use habits to improve communication, you also need to assert what you want.
If it isn't reasonable or suitable for you, you don't have to do what the other person wants. This doesn't mean being rude. Good communicators have good control over their emotions, and can convey clearly and firmly what they need.
One of the best self development habits to improve communication is learning to say a two letter word. "No." If something isn't right for you, it's okay to say no.
We often feel guilty about saying "no" to something that we don't want to do. Be polite, but firm. Tell people what you feel comfortable with. Raise your hand in meetings. As long as you are polite and reasonable, you have every right to say how you feel.
Habit #4 - Non-verbal Cues
A surprising amount of our communication comes from non-verbal cues. This includes body language, but also eye contact, posture and facial expressions.
Maintain consistent eye contact to show that you are engaged with what the other person is saying. Stand up straight, and try to avoid crossing your arms, as this can suggest defensiveness. Show that you're listening by nodding in agreement at appropriate points.
Habit #5 - Keep Control of Your Emotions
To use self development habits to improve communication, you must first understand what hinders communication. Poor communication is often caused by emotional responses, particularly anger and stress. For example, if you're very anxious and stressed about an upcoming deadline, when a colleague asks for help, you're more likely to snap and communicate poorly.
Keeping emotions out of your conversations can be difficult, in many cases impossible. Ultimately, it's key to stay in control of your emotions. Acknowledge within yourself how you feel, but try to focus on actively listening to what the other person is saying. What are they asking of you? Do you agree or disagree? What's the best way to put across what you want to say?
Building in self development habits to improve communication into your daily life can be a learning curve, but the benefits are invaluable. Whether you're working towards a promotion, or making friends in a new neighbourhood, being able to convey your ideas effectively, listen actively, and create engaging conversations can springboard you into many new opportunities.