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What Are Good Communication Skills?

A lot of employers say that many potential employees are not ‘ready for work.’ But what does this mean? – could it be that the bigger problem is with communication?

With teenagers being more reliant on things such as text messaging and social media to communicate than ever before, there are some that say the art of interpersonal communication is being lost. In a world where everyone can broadcast their views online with a tweet or a blog, could it be that we are forgetting how to have a proper face-to-face conversation – without it ending up in a disagreement or argument?

While it may be going a bit far to suggest that all young people are only really happy when using a screen to communicate with others, there is something to be said for developing good communication skills. They will help in everything from your day-to-day interactions to important conversations – such as a job interview!

So here are a few tips for a more successful communication:

Good communication means being present

Effective communication involves paying attention. Don’t start thinking about what you are going to do later, or what you want to say next. Instead try to really be involved and ‘present’ in the conversation. It’s tough to maintain, but try to pay proper attention to what the other person is saying. It should go without saying that looking at your phone is not being present! Make eye contact and really look as if you are interested in what the other person is saying.

Don’t rant!

You may know someone who can’t seem to stop once they get started talking. Not letting others get a word in edgeways is not having a conversation – it is having a monologue. Try not to just broadcast your views and make sure to listen and try to learn from the opinions of others – even if you don’t agree with them!

Offer relevant replies

By listening to what is being said you can make sure your replies are relevant. It is all too easy to think of something that you want to say and then chip in with it later – even if the conversation has moved on, but this isn’t communicating well.

Ask open-ended questions

If you really want to be a conversation expert  and drive communication, use open-ended questions rather than closed ones. That is, don’t ask questions that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Instead of asking, for example, ‘were you upset,’ try asking how someone felt. This will let them offer their own views rather than being led by what you asked.

It’s not all about you!

When you do have someone talking to you about their ideas or experiences try to avoid butting in with your own examples. You may have had a similar experience, but generally your experience will have been different in some way. No two people are the same – so don’t put your views onto someone else’s experiences.

Keep it brief

Let’s face facts, most people struggle to listen, so when you do get to talk make sure you keep things brief. Stick to the main points and cut out any unnecessary details, otherwise you run the risk of boring your listener and them switching off form the conversation.

Don’t repeat yourself

You may want to get a specific point across – but avoid repeating yourself to do so. It is insulting to the listener and incredibly tedious. There is no need to rephrase something to emphasise a point that someone already understands.

Be honest

If you don’t know something, admit it. Being honest in your conversations like this could open you up to learn something new.

Show an interest in others

Make it your goal to learn something new about or from the other person. Show interest in them and what they are saying, rather than continually trying to get your point across – which leads to the last tip…

Listen!

Maybe this should have been first as it is the most obvious piece of advice for a good conversation. However, it is also the one that most people seem to struggle with – so here it is in last place. Good communication is a two-way street – try to spend less time talking and more time listening.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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