How To Be a Good Communicator (16 Steps For You To Follow)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 August 2022 | Published 29 September 2021

Updated 27 August 2022

Published 29 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills in any workplace. Knowing how to be a good communicator is very beneficial to your career progression and can also be useful in your personal life. It's important to know how to continually develop your communication skills so that you're always improving. In this article, we explain the importance of communication skills and how to be a good communicator.

Related: Why Is Communication Important? (And How To Improve It)

How to be a good communicator

Discover how to be a good communicator by following these 16 steps:

1. Listen

Arguably the most important way to improve your communication skills is to listen actively and attentively. Listening improves your ability to communicate in the same way that reading can improve your writing skills. When you're listening to another person, try to focus on the message they're trying to convey rather than how you can interject or respond. Many people struggle to voice their thoughts accurately, and good listeners are adept at helping them do so by listening attentively. Dedicate all your attention to understanding what they're trying to say and only consider your response after they've finished.

Related: How To Improve Your Active Listening Skills

2. Ask questions

When you're listening to someone else speak, they might not always be very clear. If you're unsure of what they're trying to say, wait until they finish speaking and ask them some brief questions to clarify what they said. This is almost always preferable to trying to assume what they meant. This also ensures that you're attentive and reassures the other person that you're genuinely interested in understanding them. In other cases, you may require more detail, such as if you're being asked to complete a particular task.

3. Rephrase what others say

It can often be a good idea to rephrase what someone has just said to you. This allows you to confirm that you've understood them correctly and can also be phrased as a question. Most people have different ways of conveying the same information. Being able to rephrase what someone said in a mutually understandable way reassures them that you've listened attentively and understood what's been said.

4. Adapt to your audience

When communicating with someone, either in written or oral form, it's beneficial to change your approach based on your relationship with them. For instance, if you're speaking to your superior, you ought to try and be clear, brief, concise and respectful. Conversely, when speaking to a friendly colleague, you might use more informal language, address them by their first name and make jokes.

It's important to consider what your audience knows. If you're trying to explain your particular needs to individuals in a totally separate department, it's better to avoid using overly technical terms, as they probably don't understand them. If you're ever in doubt, it's usually best to speak as simply as possible and assume that your audience needs more information.

5. Engage with groups

When speaking to several people simultaneously, it's best to try and adopt a conversational tone. This is better than trying to present to them, as it engages your listeners and encourages them to respond and interact. This allows you to bond with your listeners and develop positive interactions.

6. Be clear and concise

Whenever possible, using fewer words is preferable to using more words, as long as you can communicate the same information. Many people may hesitate to ask too many questions, and if you're speaking concisely and clearly, they're going to get all the information they need in an understandable manner.

7. Connect emotionally

Depending on your audience, you may find that forming an emotional connection is good for encouraging engagement. This could be humour, gratitude, affection or any other appropriate emotion. Focus on the emotions that you share with others, as this ensures you connect with them on a personal level.

8. Review your own conversations

Learning to be a better communicator is an ongoing process, and it's a good idea to evaluate your own performance regularly. Ask yourself if you could've been clearer, whether you asked the right questions and how well you engaged your audience. Revisit these interactions, find ways you could've improved and implement them.

9. Ask for feedback

In addition to reviewing your own performance as a communicator, you can always ask others what they think. Ask them how well you perform as a communicator, what they think you do well and what could be improved. If you can identify certain individuals as excellent communicators, their feedback could be especially useful to you.

Related: The importance of feedback (with types and examples)

10. Identify the purpose of a message

All good communication has a clear purpose that's conveyed to the recipient. A good way of improving your communication skills is to identify the purpose of your message before speaking or writing. Consider the following questions:

  • Are you trying to persuade someone of an alternative point of view?

  • Are you trying to communicate information?

  • Are you requesting something?

By identifying the purpose of your message, you can ensure that you communicate concisely and clearly. Conversely, if you're simply trying to facilitate casual conversation, remember to be flexible and open. Use basic question words to help you do this:

  • Who is your message directed at?

  • What is the information you wish to convey? Is it relevant?

  • Where is this conversation taking place? Is it a formal or informal setting?

  • Why are you specifically communicating with this person? What are your reasons for contacting them?

  • When is the conversation happening? Is it an appropriate time? Is there urgency, or can it wait?

  • How are you speaking to them? Are they a friend or a superior?

These questions can also help you to better identify what someone else is trying to say. This ensures that your responses are relevant and appropriate.

11. Be aware of body language

Using and understanding body language is an important part of face-to-face communication. Try to identify if your audience is engaged or interested based on their body language. If they cross their arms, constantly look away, keep checking their watch, avoid eye contact or play with their phone, then you may need to engage them better. Also, consider your own body language, such as keeping your arms uncrossed, making appropriate eye contact and smiling.

Related: Nonverbal Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

12. Pause when necessary

If you're trying to actively listen or are thinking of questions, you may need to pause to think. This is rarely a bad thing, and pausing for a few seconds to consider your response can lead to a better conversation than if you answered more spontaneously. You can always tell whomever you're speaking to that you need time to think.

13. Be careful with cliches and jargon

Whenever you can, use clear language that's widely understandable. This largely depends on your audience, but it's generally best to avoid cliches and jargon. This lowers the risk of people misunderstanding you.

14. Be prepared

If you're expecting an important conversation to take place or if you're going to present something, make sure you prepare accordingly. Know what you're going to say, who your audience is and the goal of the interaction.

Related: 5 Popular Communication Skills Interview Questions

15. Remain open-minded

It's quite common to approach a conversation with certain expectations. While this can help you stay on topic, it can also create inflexibility if the person you're speaking to has alternative priorities. Try to be as open as possible and consider the needs and thoughts of others in addition to your own.

16. Take a writing course

Written communication generally functions differently from spoken conversations. Taking a writing course can help you improve your written communication skills. This also puts you in contact with professionals and mentors who can give you great feedback and help you to improve further.

Related: What Are Communication Skills?

Why is being a good communicator important?

The ability to effectively communicate with others is among the most important soft skills to develop. It affects your ability to work with others, including your employees, peers and employers. If you work in a client or customer-based role, your ability to communicate ensures that you make them happy and can, therefore, be vital to your company's profitability. Almost all places of work are collaborative environments, and being able to communicate effectively ensures that you contribute to the collective effort.

Communication is used to inform others of important information, explain difficult concepts and alert others to potential opportunities or risks. Without good communication, there's an increased risk of misunderstanding, important opportunities being overlooked or dissatisfied customers and clients. For these reasons and many more, being a good communicator can significantly improve your career prospects, especially if you aspire to a managerial position that requires you to oversee and communicate with many others. Being a good communicator also grants you increased confidence, making you a much more appealing candidate when seeking promotions or new employment.

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