Communication skills

Using good communication skills helps you understand the other person better, and helps them better understand you.

Try these tips for better communication:

  • Approach the conversation with an open mind.
  • Show you’re listening.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Pause what you are doing to give the other person your full attention. Avoid distractions.
  • Face the other person.
  • Nod to show that you are listening and understanding.
  • Notice if they do things like sighing, fidgeting, or turning away from you. This might mean that they are having a hard time listening.
  • Reflect back what you heard, and check that you got it right.
    • “What I’m hearing you say is…”
    • “It sounds like…”

Be honest and direct.

  • If you are having trouble understanding the other person, ask them to speak up or repeat what they said.

Body language is important.

  • Smile. 
  • Relax your shoulders.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets and off your hips.
  • Avoid crossing your arms in front of you.

Pay attention to eyebrows.

  • Raised eyebrows can show listening, happiness, or surprise.
  • Eyebrows that are low or pinched together can show sadness.
  • Eyebrows in a “V” can mean confused or angry.

Volume and tone of voice matter.

  • Speak more slowly.
  • Speak up so the other person can hear you.
  • Pay attention to the tone of your voice, which may sound different if you have to speak louder than usual.

Think about where you are standing.

  • Stay at least six feet away from people who don’t live or stay with you.
  • Stand where you can see everyone in the conversation.
  • Avoid blocking access to the exit, bathrooms, or other important things. People may feel uncomfortable choosing between interrupting your conversation and walking within six feet of you.

Adapted from Cleveland Clinic resources