Communication is the key to success when it comes to work, relationships, self-improvement and much more. It’s something we need to do in order to thrive. However, there are some of us who would rather keep things to ourselves. If you’re not the best at communicating but realize it’s vital for maintaining healthy relationships, take a look at these tips for improving.

Listen

It works both ways. Communicating doesn’t just mean you are talking, sometimes you have to listen too. Developing your listening skills is the first step towards becoming a better communicator. It allows you to discover how other people communicate, what they communicate about and how you should communicate back. For instance, there’ll be a big difference between how you communicate with your partner and how you communicate with your boss. It’s good to listen and learn the boundaries.

Learn When to Speak

There are times when speaking is appropriate, and there are times when you should keep your thoughts to yourself. If you’re constantly cutting people off mid-sentence, they aren’t going to want to talk with you very often. Communication is about giving and taking. You tell your story, and then you listen to theirs. There may be times when a mediator is needed, like when couples are going through a divorce. But, for the most part, it’s easy to pick up on the atmosphere around a discussion and when you should or shouldn’t speak.

Group Talking

Talking in a group isn’t difficult once you’ve got the hang of it. Whether you’re doing a presentation in work or you’re in a social setting, you need to be aware of the people around you. Don’t hog the spotlight by making your stories long and elaborate but don’t cower away from a conversation. Many people have a fear of talking in front of large crowds, but practice makes perfect. If you’re due to present something in work or give a speech at a wedding or funeral, it’s best to know what you’re going to say rather than try and wing it. If you’re in a group where everyone needs to have an opinion, why not try using a talking ball or baton? Whoever holds the ball gets to talk and then throws the ball to the next person when they’re done.

Put People at Ease

A conversation may be just as hard for the person you’re talking to as it is for you. Making people feel at ease will ensure you can both communicate comfortably. It could be anything from offering refreshments to a reassuring smile. If you’re finding it difficult to break the ice, offer some information about yourself that the other person may be able to identify with.

Give Feedback

Validation is a big deal when it comes to communication. If someone knows you can understand what they’re saying and what their point of view is, they’re more likely to talk to you again. Whether it’s a colleague getting your opinion on a work issue or a friend asking for relationship advice, you’ll be sure to have plenty of practice at communicating.

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