Communication is a skill that can be learned and developed.  It is one of the top traits companies look at when hiring and promoting.  Being an effective communicator is a prerequisite for success in all aspects of your life.  To improve your communication skills do the following:

1. Listen – Listening is an important part of communication.  The more you listen, the better you communicate. Put the technology away, focus, listen, and actively engage with the individual.

2. Learn Nonverbal Communication – First impressions are made quickly and are lasting.  Be cognizant of the factors which encompass nonverbal communication, such as making eye contact, being cordial, confident, and approachable.

3. Study – Learn the techniques and subtleties of different types of communication, focusing on those areas where you have shortcomings.

4. Confidence – It is difficult to properly communicate, especially when speaking, if you are anxious, stressed, or overly emotional.  Recognize which settings trigger anxiety and insecurity, simulate those settings, and practice.

5. Clarity – Think about what you are communicating and convey it in the most simple and straightforward manner possible. If the subject is complex break it down into smaller, more readily understood pieces using bullet points.

6. Venue – Many default to the mode of communication they are most comfortable with, which may or may not be the best or most appropriate medium.  Ensure you are communicating in the most efficient manner given the topic, audience, and other issues such as distance or size of the audience.

7. Awareness – Know your audience.  Put yourself in their shoes. Anticipate their questions and concerns and have clear responses prepared in advance.

8. Feedback – Engage with the other party or audience.  Ask questions, respect the other person’s point of view and do not get defensive.

9. Assertiveness – Being assertive does not mean being aggressive.  Be assured and confident enough to get your point across.

10. Regimen – Being a good communicator is an ongoing endeavor.  Treat communication just like any other skill and develop it.

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