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Improving Your Communication Skills

Improving communication skills now can make the difference between success and failure, profit or loss later. Whatever your field, improving communication skills leads to greater success. Smart people make improving communication skills a lifelong endeavor.

Face to face, telephone, and written correspondence comprise most of our personal and business communications. Through these means we relate to others our ideas, feelings, perceptions and desires. Failing to communicate effectively is to fail ourselves.

Start improving communication skills now. Begin with an honest assessment of your skills. Then apply some easy tips you can put to work immediately.

Communicating is not only speaking but also listening. Are you a good listener? Sales people use the “70-30” rule, which means the sales person should be talking 30% of the time, allowing the potential customer to talk 70% of the time, describing his problems and objectives. This rule applies in many business and social settings as well.

What about body language? Certain gestures and stances make an impression on your listener, either positive or negative. Talk to yourself in a mirror. Eliminate gestures and poses that do not fit your speech.

How’s your vocabulary? If your answer is “not so great”, expanding your vocabulary goes a long way towards improving communication skills. Get out your dictionary and thesaurus (also available online).

Set aside fifteen minutes a day, and learn five new words. In a year, you’ll accumulate almost 1800 new words for your communications arsenal.

Do you have a tendency to be vague or ambiguous? This is usually due to choosing words that allow more than one interpretation. Rodale’s Synonym Finder contains over 1,500,000 words. This book is a treasure chest of contextual nuances. Find the word with the exact meaning you seek.

How about spelling? Spelling errors communicate a lack of attention to detail and careless work habits. A professional editor may reject an entire submission if misspellings are found, even if the content has merit. A prospective employer may not hire you because of misspellings. It implies sloppy work.

Go to Google and search on “online spelling tests”. You’ll find many sites with word lists of varying difficulty. Test yourself. This practice goes a long way towards improving communication skills.

If you use a word processor, be aware that a spell checker won’t catch every error. For example, “their” and “there” are commonly misused and a spell checker only checks individual words without regard to context.

If you’re the shy type and simply feel uncomfortable talking with others or in groups, join a Toastmaster’s club. You’ll be joining others with similar feelings, and you’ll naturally gain confidence over time.

There are many excellent e-newsletters you can subscribe to online, filled with quality articles and links to sites specializing in improving communication skills.

These e-newsletters often have free email courses, sectioned into several parts over a week’s time.

Be honest in your self-assessment, follow up on the tips that apply and you’ll soon reap the benefits of improving communication skills.

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