Having good communication skills is possibly one of the most important things you may learn to enhance your work life, family life and social life. Being able to effectively communicate and express yourself in a mature and professional manner is a huge life skill. Interacting with others is an unavoidable part of life, some of you may love to interact with others, whereas some of you will try to avoid this as much as possible. Either way, we all have to communicate at points. Now, having good communication skills is not just about being comfortable enough to talk to your colleagues or friends, it is also about knowing how to effectively get your point across, address certain issues in a respectable way and share your feelings and opinions with others. 

If you have issues in your work, family or relationship, simply avoiding these issues will not solve them, learning how to articulate your feelings and concerns in a professional, respectable and caring manner can have a huge impact on how the other person receives your comments. If you share your point in and aggressive, hostile way, best believe that the other person will instantly build up their walls and react in a defensive way. (even if you are right, in what you are saying). However, if you approach the person in a calm way, sharing your concerns with a respectful tone, attitude and correct language you are more likely to be greeted with someone willing to listen to what you have to say. Think about it when was the last time someone expressed a concern with you in a hostile way? How did you react compared to the time someone expressed something in a calm way? 

Additionally, showing confidence when you are talking to people at work makes you a reliable employee, it shows that you know what you are doing, and you have confidence about your performance and skills. Someone who is looking at the ground and looks like they are going to burst into tears is most certainly not going to be taken seriously. This also goes for our non-verbal communication, this is essential in all parts of life, nonverbal cues such as proper posture, hand movements and facial expressions are needed to communicate clearly and must be in sync with what you are verbally saying. Telling someone to ‘have a nice day’ with a fowl look on your face and raised eyebrows will probably not portray ‘have a nice day’ it possibly may be seen as ‘Please go away and leave me the hell alone’. 

Ok, so how do we work on this? Firstly, when speaking, always maintain proper upright straight posture, maintain eye contact and definitely avoid folding your arms or making yourself appear smaller or awkward. Folding your arms is not inviting communication it is closing yourself off to the person/people you are talking to them nonverbally basically telling them to back off. You can also improve your communication skills through studying and practice. Such as practice speaking in front of a mirror and observe how you look when you speak. Or record yourself doing a presentation and then watch this back. You may also want to expand your vocabulary by learning a new word every day, this allows you to better relay your message to your intended audience. And last but not least be aware of your non-verbal messages you are sending off. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.