With these communication tips, getting your point across and building relationships is easier than you think. Learning how to communicate effectively is a skill you can continually work on your entire life.

Here are five tips that will make you a better communicator:

  1. Listen: Don’t start talking if you don’t know how to listen. There are many things competing for your attention such as your smartphone notifications and emails. Find a way to achieve maximum focus when having a conversation with a client or product manager. Listening will help you understand what others need and will save you from a great deal of grief in the long run. One way you can improve your listening skills is to pause. By taking a moment to pause, you can think about what the person you’re talking to just said. Pausing will also give the person who is speaking time to go into further detail about what they’re talking about. Taking a moment to step back mentally will help you formulate a better response than if you were to just reply instantly after you thought someone was done speaking.
  2. Take notes when appropriate: Are you sitting in a planning meeting? Pull out your notepad and take a few notes to help you remember the subject matter and stay focused. Taking notes also shows everyone you are paying attention and invested in what they have to say. If you don’t have a notepad or don’t want to use a notepad then use your smartphone to jot down a few notes. Take notes of the facts, the problems you’re trying to solve, and who was there. Other things to take notes of are the questions asked and answers given during the meeting. Having notes to refer to will save you from asking the same questions that have already been asked.
  3. Body language: Simple things like mirroring the movements of those you are talking to such as sitting position and folding arms communicates that you get them. Pay attention to spacing when talking to friends and acquaintances at your next cocktail party or company luncheon. Other things to pay attention to are whether or not you’re slouching and how other people are responding to you with their body language. If they’re backing away when you speak face-to-face, you may just need to chew on a breath mint. If people are leaning into you when you’re talking to them, they’re most likely interested in what you have to say. Actions can often speak louder than words.
  4. Open-ended questions: Only asking yes or no questions doesn’t require much engagement from the party you’re talking to. Asking open-ended questions result in better solutions to the problems you are working to solve. Here are a few examples:
    • Why did you choose these vendors for our next tradeshow?
    • Where did you go for lunch yesterday? What’s the best thing on their menu?
    • What steps can we take to prevent $4M in revenue loss next year?
    • How can we simplify the signup process for new customers?
  5. Stay relevant and stay on topic: Have you ever tried talking to someone about your favorite football game of all-time but they kept changing the subject? No one likes it when people try to move away from a central topic whether it’s over dinner or in a board meeting. Staying relevant and staying on the topic shows that you respect the other party. A few ways to help yourself stay on topic is to share personal experiences that tie into the topic at hand, listen to what others in the group are saying, and ask about the personal experiences of others regarding the topic. By following these tips, you can stay relevant and understand what’s being discussed, whether it’s a conversation about onboarding processes or financial best practices.

Reading these tips is one thing but putting them into practice is another. Which tip will you work on this week?