Improve Your Communication Skills in 2014, Part II

Let’s look at three more areas of improvement in your day-to-day business communication: nonverbal communication, written communication and listening skills.

If you’ve ever heard the comment, “It’s what you DON’T say that’s important,” you know that nonverbal communication, especially in a business context, can make or break the meaning you’re trying to convey.

If you choose to focus on your nonverbal communication, consider taking a comedy improvisation (improv) or acting class. This will help you understand the integration of words, body and motion.

Videotape yourself while talking on the phone. Watch the video with the sound off. What are you saying with your body? What is your facial expression reflecting? You can’t make improvements until you know where the problems are occurring.

Just about everyone can benefit from improved written communication. From email to formal proposals, you are constantly writing. Grammatical errors and misspelled word are documented for eternity and reflect negatively on you. If you really want to become a better writer, buy a workbook in basic grammar. Go online and try out some of the grammar websites. You will be shocked at what you don’t know. Keep a journal. Writing material you chose and becoming more comfortable with putting your thoughts on paper can help your comfort level in your business writing. Also, seek confidential feedback on your business writing from someone you trust. Sometimes what you mean to say and what people actually understand are different.

One communication skill that is undervalued is the skill of listening. Instead of listening, most individuals are waiting to speak. The listener has the greater responsibility in a communication situation. However, most business professionals have never taken a class in listening skills. To improve your listening skills, think of a person in your life who really listens to you. Watch what they do when you interact with them. Emulate what you observe. Discipline yourself to sit down (regardless of your setting) and attune your ears to the different sounds you hear. Just notice what you hear. This activity is difficult because we have lost the ability to do only one activity at a time. Try it. You may become a better listener as a result.