There are many ways to improve communication, but different strategies must be used in different situations. While a business encounter might involve clear and concise language, a communication problem in a close relationship may often involve feeling words and imprecise sentiments. Improving communication requires thinking about the communicatory needs of the specific situation. In general, practicing confidence, non-verbal communication, and listening skills makes communication much easier.
One common way to improve communication is to simply practice. Many people can improve communication by interacting with others and taking note of what is and is not effective. In some cases, working with a coach may help identify areas for improvement. Practicing with other people who are also trying to learn how to communicate effectively can be just as beneficial as practicing in real environments.
Communication problems in personal relationships require very different tactics than professional contexts. In order to improve communication in a relationship, both parties must be willing to break what may be personal or social limitations on acceptable sharing. Often, communication in a relationship improves not with different styles of speech but with more trust and clarity. On the other hand, many people believe that using certain phrase structures can make these conversations less likely to result in anger or fighting.
Many people who must communicate effectively in professional contexts need help improving non-verbal communication. Making eye contact, using appropriate body language, and refraining from distracting behaviors can help make a person seem more confident. Improving speaking styles may also be necessary, which can involve changing the speed of speech.
Communicating effectively does not only involve speaking. Listening is also a major part of communication. Active listening, which involves demonstrating that one is listening with bodily cues, is appropriate in some cultures. Sometimes, paraphrasing what a person has said can demonstrate that he or she was understood. Being a good listener often helps improve interpersonal relations.
Written communication is also different from spoken communication. Improving written communication requires understanding the fundamentals of writing, such as spelling and grammar, as well as thoughtful composition. Communication may also require different strategies in different contexts, such as online as opposed to print. This is also true of spoken communication, where a phone conversation or speech may require different conversational tactics than a professional discussion.
It is important to keep in mind that communication traditions are also culturally specific. While eye contact might be important in one culture, it could be considered disrespectful in another. For this reason, one valuable way to improve communication skills is to improve attention to these small details. Being able to imitate other, better socialized members of the conversation can help a person appear culturally mindful and will help prevent distractions from disturbing communication.