Developing Effective Communication Skills

In my previous Mistakes to Avoid in Early Career column, I have highlighted the importance of communication skills. In this post, I would like to discuss the various ways and means of developing effective communication and interact clearly with others.
Effective communication skills form key to success, be it for a job-seeker at an entry level or for a CEO. And, since English is the most widely spoken language at most formal workplaces today, I would like to focus on developing skills in this language, in the present blog.

The first and foremost step in improving your communication skills is to read a lot. Read and re-read the following daily, paying utmost attention to grammar, choice of words and sentence formation.
• Newspapers
• Magazines and Journals (ideally different from your subject)
• Articles
• Research publications
Make a note of all the new words you come across while reading. Refer to the dictionary to understand their meanings and the different contexts in which they are used. Form your own sentences while making use of those new words.
As you read extensively, you get familiar with different new words and their usages, thus improving your vocabulary. Further, write the gist of the articles you have read in your own words.

Now that you have improved your vocabulary through voracious reading, it is time for you to focus comprehensively on grammar and sentence usage.
A text book containing fundamental grammar lessons will help a lot. Start with simple exercises on Articles, Gerunds, Nouns and Verbs and then graduate to Prepositions, Conjunctions, Adjectives, Adverbs, Degrees of comparison, Voices, Tenses, Direct and Indirect speeches. Begin with simple sentences and progress towards complex and compound sentences.
Having understood the rules and techniques to frame grammatically correct sentences and using words in different contexts, concentrate on developing your spoken communication and fluency.
• Speak only in English, whenever you communicate with others
• Start by speaking simple sentences
• Speak slowly so as to avoid framing incorrect sentences and help you make note of all grammatical errors, easily
• Write down or frame a sentence in your mind, before saying it aloud
• Let a friend or a colleague observe you while speaking and take feedback from him/her later.

A lot of professionals have a conviction that ability to write well and speak correctly constitute effective communication skills. While it is true to an extent, careful listening to others is just as important in understanding other persons’ line of thought and replying suitably. Try listening to the following regularly:
• English Documentaries
• News stories and analysis
• Reviews
• Public speeches by effective communicators
If you have trouble getting rid of MTI (Mother-Tongue Influence) listen to native British/American speakers for correct pronunciation. Careful listening will help you not only understand the message correctly, but also in recognizing the emotions of the speaker!!!

- Uma Bhanu Kondury
Senior Consultant, Prajwal Business Services Pvt. Ltd

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