How To Improve Your Communication Skills (With Steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 30 September 2022 | Published 25 June 2021

Updated 30 September 2022

Published 25 June 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.

It has been said that teamwork begins and ends with communication. Whichever industry you choose to work in, you will need to cooperate with colleagues or interact with customers at some point in your career. As such, being able to communicate with others clearly and effectively is an essential skill, whether you're applying for a job or a promotion. With this in mind, it's very important to highlight your communication skills. How can you improve these abilities?

How to improve communication skills

The importance of improving your communication for your career cannot be overstated. Managers need to convey instructions to their colleagues and ensure that they have a full understanding of how to complete a task. Employees need to be able to communicate with each other to facilitate teamwork and create a friendly working atmosphere. Whatever your position in the company hierarchy, improving your communication skills will only be beneficial in the long term.

Related: 10 communication skills to add to your CV

1. Become an active listener

Active listening is an important skill in the business world. Essentially, this means listening to whoever is speaking attentively and interpreting what they are saying, rather than passively listening to what they say without fully engaging. This is essential while communicating with co-workers, as it gives you a fuller understanding of what is expected and will make your job much easier when you need to complete a task. Always remember that communication isn't only about how you speak but also how you listen. Don't forget to consider your listening skills while developing your speaking skills.

2. Articulate

Learning how to articulate your point and convey what you mean effectively is an indispensable skill in the workplace. Just as you need to be an active listener, you also need to know how to express yourself in a manner that can be easily understood by colleagues. Whenever there are complicated issues you need to address at work or instances where you need to convince a co-worker to take a particular course of action, being able to articulate yourself will be highly beneficial. Taking the time to work on your vocabulary and practising speaking slowly and clearly, will only help your career in the long term, and it will also be appreciated by your fellow employees.

Related: Improving Your Manager Communication Skills

3. Provide feedback

This is similar to active listening but requires action on your part. Whereas active listening is working to understand what somebody else is saying and the intention behind their words, providing feedback is a way of letting them know that you have listened. In a professional capacity, this is a major part of how you work and interact with others. If somebody is speaking, make sure that your body language shows you are paying attention. Be upright and alert instead of appearing bored or uninterested.

When somebody offers you a suggestion or opinion, respond to it politely and don't dismiss them. Even if you feel differently, acknowledge what they have said and then offer your alternative without giving the impression that your idea is inherently better. It's important that every employee feels valued at work and that feeling is created by each of their co-workers, not only those higher in the company hierarchy. Providing feedback when somebody speaks to you plays a significant role in this.

Related: Positive Feedback: Why It's Important and How to Give It

Tips for improving communication skills

Identifying communication skills is only the first step. Once you have identified them, you should consider which are your stronger and weaker communication skills and those you should try to improve to better communicate with your fellow employees and management.

Choose the right method

During the working day, there could be several scenarios that require communication skills. These include:

  1. Speaking with a colleague or customer in person

  2. Writing an email or letter

  3. Giving a presentation

  4. Conducting a phone call

  5. Taking part in a video conference

Each of these scenarios will require different communication skills. Writing an email, for example, will utilise your written communication ability, including your vocabulary. On the other hand, giving a presentation will depend more on your body language and public speaking ability. Some of these scenarios won't apply to your job but the associated communication skills might still come in handy. As such, it's always worth spending some time developing your communication skills, even if you don't think you'll need them.

Observe and learn

It sounds simple but one of the best ways to improve your communication skills is to observe the people around you. Next time you are assigned to a team at work, consider trying these steps:

  1. Identify one person within the team who you feel exhibits strong communication abilities and who has a good rapport with the other members.

  2. When that person speaks to you or other members of the team, think about why they are effective. How do they make other members of the team feel valued? How do they listen to ideas and suggestions from other people and share their own? How do they convey what they want and encourage others to see things from their perspective?

  3. Decide which of those techniques might work for you and try to incorporate them into your interactions with others. Everybody is different and what works for somebody else might not work for you, so there will always be an element of trial and error when developing your speaking skills.

  4. Gradually establish your manner of speaking and the way that you interact with other members of your team. Learning from others isn't about copying their mannerisms but picking individual techniques that will benefit you.

Speaking ability isn't only about your tone and the words you choose when talking. Every other facet of communication such as body language and listening ability will also play a part, so take the time to develop these traits alongside your verbal delivery.

Develop presentation skills

While there are fundamental similarities between speaking to an individual and delivering a presentation, there are also significant differences. During a one to one conversation, it is important to make somebody feel that they are your sole focus. In a presentation, the opposite is true; you need to address a group, which might be as few as a dozen or as large as thousands. You need to reach the people sitting closest to you and those further away, equally effectively.

As with developing conversational skills, one of the simplest ways of developing presentation skills is to simply watch other people giving presentations. Fortunately, finding good presentations to learn from is far easier than observing workplace conversations. You only need to visit a video streaming website and search, and you will find thousands of videos of people giving presentations. It will probably be helpful to watch presentations or speeches on a similar subject to your profession.

Just as particular conversation techniques won't work for everyone, each person needs to develop their style of giving a presentation. Don't be afraid to practice in front of a mirror or, if you want to take a closer look at your body language and make changes to your delivery, record yourself and watch it back. It can feel embarrassing watching yourself but nobody else is going to see it. It's better to fix any issues like this, rather than making mistakes in front of other people.

Related: How to generate creative presentation ideas in 11 steps

Study and practice writing

In the digital age, it's easy to overlook how often we engage in written communication with others. Whether sending a text message, instant message or email, you might end up sending a surprising amount of writing to other people throughout the course of your working day. As such, it is just as important to develop your written communication as your speaking ability.

One of the benefits of writing an email, compared to giving a public speech, is that you can edit the text thoroughly before sending it. Until you send the message, you can make as many changes as you like until you're happy with the results. Don't feel compelled to make an email any longer than necessary. It can be tempting to write a long, beautiful, flowing email, but this will usually only please yourself. Your recipient might have to read dozens of emails in a day, so focus on the relevant information or questions and don't worry if the message seems short.

For some of your co-workers, your emails might be the only interaction that they ever have with you. Take the time to ensure that you are happy with your message before sending it and, again, take the time to study impressive emails from your colleagues. As with any method of communication, writing an email is something that becomes much easier with experience.

Related:

  • Written Communication Skills: Definition and Examples

  • 23 essential tips for improving your leadership skills

  • 5 Reasons Why Writing Skills Are Essential For Every Job

  • Administrative Skills: Definition and Examples

  • What Are Verbal Communication Skills? (With Tips)


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