Good communication is vital to a successful business and career. If you are easily understood, and others feel they are able to communicate effortlessly with you, then you will seem accessible, helpful and knowledgeable.
Communication is not merely just talking; it is giving and receiving understandable information. Whether you are a native English speaker or not, it is important to learn a few skills that make your English perfect in order to communicate well.
What do you want to achieve?
Firstly, it’s important to think about what it is you want to improve, and how much time you can spend on it. Having an achievable goal or timeframe can help motivate you to putting the effort into improving your English.
Ask yourself a few questions, such as:
- Why do I want to improve my language skills? Maybe to better communicate with colleagues or clients, or to be able to improve your public speaking skills.
- What exactly do I need to improve? Maybe it’s extending your vocabulary, pronunciation, learning to use more persuasive language or sounding more confident.
- How much time can you devote to improving these skills? Maybe it’s an hour a few times a week, or 20 minutes everyday. Either way, doing little and often will be more effective than doing a big chunk and then not doing any for a long time.
Once you have ascertained the answers to these questions, you should have more of an idea of what it is that you want to improve and how you can go about doing it. This will help you choose which ways of improving your language skills will work best for you.
Here are some tips that you could try, which can improve your language overall:
- Read a book every month (or as often as you have time for). This will improve your vocabulary and understanding. Maybe you could join a book club, so that you can then discuss the book and practice speaking within a group.
- You could also try joining a debating society, or just participating in after dinner discussions, so you can practice making concise points and hone your public speaking skills.
- Try to learn-and use-a new word every day. It doesn’t have to be something complicated. You could try getting a calendar that has a word on each new day-available from most book/stationary shops.
- Read a newspaper everyday. Try to avoid tabloids, as these tend to use more simple language. If you can’t get hold of a newspaper, try reading the news online.
- Listen to news broadcasters and try to repeat what they say, being sure to annunciate words. It might help to do this in front of a mirror, so you can see how you are moving your mouth, or try recording yourself and then listening to it to see which bits are unclear.
If you want to improve your communication skills by learning how to listen and speak to get results, you could try the following:
- Don’t take things personally. Sometimes you may hear something differently to how it was meant. Try to put aside emotions and go over what has been said to ascertain the actual meaning. If they do seem to be being personal, try to understand that it is likely to be more about their anger or frustration than about you in particular, and try not to react.
- If you don’t know the answer, don’t pretend you do. It is perfectly acceptable to admit you don’t know and offer to find the answer or solution later on. This will make you seem more genuine and confident, rather than just making up an answer that probably won’t make sense and losing your credibility.
- It’s important to actually listen. Many people say they are listening, but really they are just working out what they’re going to say next. Make sure you are giving your full attention to the other person and show that you are listening by asking questions about what they’ve said.
- Try to keep a positive outlook. If you are positive, it will make people think of you more positively. Try to see problems as ways of learning and try to see the best in situations.
- Make sure you keep to goals or promises you have set. If you consistently break promises or don’t follow through on things, people will feel they can’t trust or rely on you. If something turns out to not be possible, at least make sure you explain why.
- Give truthful and clear feedback, and not only when it’s something negative. Colleagues or employees will feel more positive and valued if they are praised for good work, and in return be willing to work harder.