Developing effective communication skills is not the easiest of tasks, especially if you don’t know how to approach self-improvement in general. The improvement of existing interaction abilities and the development of an effective communication skill-set are incredibly positive steps for any individual. Progressing one’s communication capabilities, both at home and at work, will have positive benefits including an increase in happiness and productivity. Stronger interaction leads to an increased in trust and understanding, both of which build more sustainable and rewarding relationships with those around you.
Many people have a lot of difficulty improving their communication skills simply because human beings are creatures of habit. Our ability to communicate is developed throughout our childhood and into our adult lives. They are not developed or adjusted quickly; they are deeply ingrained into us. Making changes, even positive ones to our methods and modes of interaction require leaving our comfort zone, dropping our armor against the judgments of others. It requires that we lay down our arms and walk naked into the angry sea of life. It is a scary prospect. People are often reluctant to relinquish these tools and shields that have shielded them from being seen as what they fear people will see. At times people are hesitant to admit that they need help or that their skills require improvement, they say that the first step to solve a problem is admitting that you have one.
The best start to developing effective communication skills is a thorough evaluation, first of the skills possessed and second of where improvement is needed and how to go about that improvement. This process is best done with another individual. As communication skills are developed starting at an early age sometimes people develop ‘blind spots’ in their habits: an area or skill that they lack without realizing that they are lacking. Other times people develop certain skills at an earlier age and their personality grows around those communication skills to the point that using other skills is like being someone they are not. It is important not to get defensive about the process though. No one is trying to change who you are but rather just trying to give you more tools to express who you are. Improving your communication skills can make you a more likeable, well-rounded, and emotionally stronger individual. Be wary of any cookie cutter-type templates for improvement or evaluation of your communication skill-set; people can be very different from each other and their improvement process should reflect all of their idiosyncrasies and quirks. The final outcomes should all be similar, though, as a well-rounded set of communication skills should look nearly the same for everyone, the important differences come in the form of the road less traveled. People learn in all sorts of different ways, and at different speeds, and some people will have more to learn than others. Some individuals will have to practice their skills more to ensure they are completely incorporated into their repertoire of effective communication skills. Furthermore, every individual will have different schedules and time frames into which this self-improvement must be worked.
The process of improving communication skills is a self-improvement process and, as such, has inherent positive effects upon personality, mood, and life. Even the simplest of ‘how to improve communication skills’ templates will lead to some favorable outcomes. The process for you could be as simple as: making a self-evaluation of the skills, not that you know, but that you use in regular human interaction; identifying problems or contradictions within your range of actions, words, tone, or grammar; finding situations in which you feel comfortable enough to make changes (such as with your closer friends or family); and implementing these new or unused skills. It can be advantageous to ask for feedback, if you are comfortable enough to do that, but if not make sure to thoroughly monitor yourself throughout the improvement process.
As always, patience is vital. It may take a long time before you get to where you want your effective communication skills to be, but take your time. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and self-improvement of any kind should never be hurried. As with most things, the development of strong communication abilities comes with practice, and plenty of it. For this reason the student can not be afraid to go out in the public sphere and practice what they have been working on with themselves. This need to ‘put yourself out there’ is one of the drawbacks of the self-improvement process, and one of the stumbling blocks people face.