How To Improve Communication Skills

December 30, 2015

Hi and welcome. In this video I want to talk to you about how to improve communication skills. Specifically I want to share a few tips and techniques on how to have effective conversations.

I’m not going to talk about written communication skills because that’s an entirely different skill set. For me, the purpose of communication is to ensure that actions are taken which provide results that can be satisfactory to one or more individuals in the conversation. One of the things that Wikipedia says about interpersonal communication skills is that successful communication happens when the speaker is able to get their message across to a listener.

In this video I want to share that effective communication is about having effective conversations. So one way on how to improve your communication skills is to understand the components of communication and take charge of them in your conversations.

What Are The Components of Effective Communication?

So what does communication actually consist of? For a lot of us, it includes both the verbal communication skills as well as the non verbal communication skills. The verbal communication skills apparently are quite “easy” because they involve speech and the words that we say.

One of the ways we can improve our communication is to increase our vocabulary. That sounds simple doesn’t it? What we need to do in this case is visit a dictionary and find all the words that are important and necessary in our day-to-day communications. That could include vocabulary and terminology relevant to your job, your career, your family or community. That’s one way to do it.

I’d like to invite you to consider that there may be another way to improve conversations regardless of how big or how small your vocabulary is. And that is to understand the concept of the speech acts. I have a few videos on my YouTube channel about the speech acts and you are welcome to check it out. Very simply all of the words that we speak, all of the conversations that we have with other people can be reduced down to one or more of the six speech acts.

The speech acts are: requests, offers, promises, assertions, assessments, and declarations. As I mentioned earlier, I explain these six speech acts in earlier videos. I invite you to consider that when you understand which part of the speech acts that you are engaged in while you’re in conversation, then you have a better handle on what exactly you want from your communication.

Here’s an example for you. I want you to imagine yourself at work and you need to get something done and you don’t quite have the resources to get it done. What do you need to do? Well chances are likely you will need to ask for help. Asking for help within the context of the speech acts is considered a request. Very simply, to fulfil your duties at work, you will need to make a request of someone who you assess to be competent and capable of fulfilling your request.

You may know this individual or a group of individuals who can help you in fulfilling your request. Once you’ve identified one or more potential individuals, you can go ahead and engage them in conversation and make requests.

How To Improve Your Communication Skills

What I just described is the beginning of an interaction that can lead to the fulfilment of your request and thereby cause you to declare satisfaction with that fulfilment. When the other individual (or individuals) choose to fulfil your request what they do is they commit, or promise, to take action to fulfil those conditions that will cause you to declare satisfaction with your request.

I realize that this may be a complicated breakdown of something as innocuous as a simple conversation. This is what I mean when I invite you to consider the linguistic skills and distinctions in the rather simple act of talking or speaking. And this is what is contained within the apparently “simple” verbal communication skills.

And this doesn’t even take into consideration the other very important part of communication which are the non verbal communication skills. A lot of us may be aware that there are studies that suggest upward of 80% to 90% of all communication is non verbal. That means that quite a lot of our communication is done not through words but with the way we act, show up, move and much, much more that is non verbal.

Ontological Coaching

In the field of Ontological Coaching, there is a model of communication that involves three steps. It’s called the BEL model. It stands for body, the “B”, emotions, the “E”, and language which is “L.”

This is what I consider a simple three-step model on learning how to improve communication skills. When communication is understood to be composed of these three parts, it creates steps to dissecting, analyzing, and creating distinctions in the conversations that you have with other people.

Additionally, the practise of noticing your conversations and understanding which of the speech acts are invoked and engaged in your conversations make your conversations extremely powerful.

One of the things that Wikipedia mentions about interpersonal communication skills is that success is attained when the message is conveyed between the speaker and the listener. Essentially what Wikipedia is saying is:“say stuff to others, get things done, and declare satisfaction.” And that’s what we want: to create satisfying outcomes in our conversations.

The secret to improving your communication skills is to know which of the speech acts you you invoke in your conversations. That’s the first part. The second part is noticing, and perhaps choosing, what emotion you are in when you engage in conversation.

A Scenario

Here’s a scenario for you: Imagine going to a restaurant and preparing to order your favourite meal. You are already sitting down, the table is set, the table is set, your favourite drink is in front of you. Everything is set for a “great” meal.

Now I want you to imagine yourself in two distinct emotions in this scenario. The first emotion is the emotion of excitement.

In the emotion of excitement, you’re going to talk to the waiter and order your favourite meal.

  • What words would you use?
  • How would your body speak?
  • How do you assess the waiter will respond to you as a person in this emotion?

Take a few moments to just imagine yourself in the scenario. What kind of responses do you think the waiter will give you? How do you imagine your food will arrive at your table? Just stay with this for a few moments.

Now, I invite you to think of the same scenario but this time using and being in the emotion of sadness. I’m going to ask you the same questions again. Imagine yourself talking to the waiter and ordering your meal in the emotion of sadness.

  • How do you think the waiter will receive your message?
  • How do you imagine your food will be brought out to you?
  • How do you imagine the rest of your meal service to be?

So learning how to improve communication skills is more than just knowing about verbal communication. It involves understanding which of the speech acts you’re using, what emotion you are in, and what your body language is like.

The Components of Body, Emotion & Language

Now what is very important to know is that body, emotions and language are all interrelated. The emotion of sadness has a particular vocabulary which affects the body language. The emotion of excitement has a different vocabulary which corresponds to different body expressions.

In short, the body affects the language, the language affects the emotion, the emotion affects the body. These three are all interrelated. If you affect one you will affect the other two.

Learning how to improve communication skills is about mastering each of these three components of communication: the body, emotions and language.

I go into a lot more detail about these three components of communication in my course called: 3 Steps To Improve Your Communication Skills.

The course has over five hours of content including videos, downloadable MP3s, PDF transcripts, and a community to support your learning. There are over 41 lessons of self-paced learning available to you as you develop your communication skills.

I hope this has been helpful on learning about how to improve your communication skills. If you have any questions or comments please share them below. Take care of yourself, have a beautiful day and I’ll see you soon.