10 Science-Backed Ways to Improve Communication Skills

'Sponsored Post' by Sebastian Klein

Do you find it hard to communicate with people, especially those you are interested in? 

If you easily clam up every time you feel uncomfortable, working on your communication skills is crucial. This is not only beneficial for your confidence or happiness, but also for your future relationships.

Building good communication skills is a challenging but rewarding journey that has to start on a basic level. 

Without proper communication skills, you may end up experiencing conflicts that will disrupt your relationships - both platonic and romantic (given that poor communication is one of the most common reasons cited for divorce in the US). 

Additionally, you'll feel powerless because you are unable to express your feelings. In time, you may compare yourself to other people who have the full freedom to speak their minds. 

If you are ready to change your life, here are 10 science-backed ways to improve your communication skills so that you can have a better dating life.  

Importance of Effective Communication

Wondering why it's so important to work on your communication skills? We've rounded up some of the reasons below. 

#A. It creates better relationships

Communication is a two-way street. When you're unable to express yourself, there will be a huge gap in all your relationships.

In turn, you won’t be able to establish a connection with the person you like. 

When you are unable to express yourself, you will also frustrate others. They might feel that you're not taking their feelings into consideration, or paying them enough attention. 

The lack of communication will soon damage your relationship and create tension. 

#B. It reduces impulsive behavior

When you can't effectively communicate, you will be prone to impulsive behavior. You'll do or say things without giving them much thought. 

While this may appeal to your immediate emotions, it will impair your long-term success in finding the love of your life. 

#C. It builds trust

Openly communicating your feelings will allow the other person to trust you because they can see that you truly care about them. 

This will create a sense of commitment that will bring you closer.

#D. It can contribute to your happiness 

When you are unable to communicate your feelings and needs, your mental health will suffer. 

You'll end up feeling stressed and anxious because you simply can’t translate your thoughts into words. 

In time, your frustration and anger will build up, and you may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. 

Not only that, but your inability to communicate your feelings will also diminish your self-esteem.

#E. It prevents and resolves issues

Communication is the key to resolving conflicts

Once you know how you would like to be treated, you can point out the ways in which the other person is not giving you the respect you deserve. When you are open, calm, and honest, it's easier to negotiate and resolve conflicts.

#F. It gives more clarity to situations

When you communicate openly, you give yourself and the other person the opportunity to come up with what to do. 

Therefore, you'll avoid staying stuck in situations that will cause damage to your relationship. 

10 Ways to Improve your Communication Skills (According to Science)

Here are 10 science-backed ways that will help you improve your communication skills:

#1.  Do not use hurtful language 

People often use hurtful words, phrases, or actions without thinking of the consequences. After all, you can get so wrapped up in your emotions that you end up saying things you don’t mean.

Unfortunately, this will only harm you. 

A neuroscience study conducted by Maria Richter proved hurtful words release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones

So when you need to communicate something, avoid using sarcasm, accusing, name-calling, or threatening. 

These words or phrases may seem harmless at first, but they can greatly damage your relationship with someone in the long term. 

Hurtful language isn't just offensive - it prevents you from having a healthy and conflict-free bond. 

When you use hurtful language, you're implying that you don't care about the person's feelings. 

As a result, the other person will not feel like you value their thoughts and opinions. They may feel that you are attacking them, which will cause them to retreat and stop sharing their thoughts with you. 

#2. Don’t forget about body language

Body language refers to the non-verbal cues we use in social interactions. They can either be intentional or unintentional.

Body language plays a huge factor in your communication skills. When you know how to use body language to your advantage, you'll appear more relaxed and confident. You'll also build trust, and the other person will feel like they can open up to you.

You don't have to be a body language expert to start improving this aspect of your communication skills. Simply make sure to be aware of what your body is saying. 

For example, if you are talking to someone, don't cross your arms in your chest since it would make you look closed off and defensive. Instead, uncross your arms to show that you're open to communicating. 

#3. Listen 

When people talk about communication, listening is a skill many forget about. However, communication isn't just about talking. It's also about hearing what the other person has to say. 

To improve your communication skills, you need to know how to listen effectively.

If you are in a conversation with another person and you're not listening to what they're saying, you'll create a disconnect. You'll make them feel like they're not important to you, and that you simply don't care. 

If you want to be a good communicator, intentionally give the other person a chance to speak. 

You should stop talking and allow them to finish, because they may have something to tell you that would clarify their feelings better. If you're not listening to the other person, you might end up missing important information.

The key thing about listening is to not do it for the sake of replying. Instead, listen with the intention of understanding how the other person feels.

Not only that, but you should also be able to demonstrate how well you are listening. When you're listening to someone else, there are several ways you can show that you're focused on them.

For example, you can make eye contact, nod during their speech, and show that you're understanding what they're saying by paraphrasing what they've said. This will make the other person feel valued. 

#4. Seek clarification when you need it

If you're in a conversation with someone and you're not sure if you're understanding them, don't simply assume what they're trying to say. 

According to the Clinical Director of the Lazarus Institute, Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D., clarifying is one of the most important things you can do if you want to improve your communication skills.

Clarifying can save you energy and time. When you’re clear about certain things, you can better assess your compatibility with another person, but just physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually.  

#5. Assume the best from people

Sometimes, we unconsciously assume the worst in people - that they want to use us, hurt us, or leave us. However, that will only make your communication skill worse.

To illustrate this point better, let's take a look at an experiment done by author and educator Marva Collins

At the beginning of the semester, Collins told her students that they received high marks for the school year, and all they had to do was ensure they didn't lose their standing.

Instead of letting the students prove they deserved a high mark, she just let the students know that she believed in them and that they are worthy. The study found that this technique made the students more motivated and inspired. 

So how can you apply this tip in your personal life? 

As much as you can, don't think negatively of people.

When you assume the worst, you make the other person feel inferior. It results in them feeling unworthy, and they may even doubt themselves. Those negative emotions won't encourage positive communication. Instead, assume that they have good intentions.

#6. Find out your communication style

Every person communicates differently. Understanding how you communicate is important since it dictates most of your interactions, platonic or not. 

To help you understand communication better, try to assess which of the following communication styles you have: 

The first communication style is passive, where people usually act indifferent and may yield to others easily. Usually, those with this style of communication have a hard time expressing their emotions, which can lead to resentment. That said, these communicators do well in times of conflict since they avoid confrontation. 

The second communication style is aggressive. This is characterized by speaking in a loud, demanding, and intense manner. Most of the time, these people may seem dominating and controlling.

There are also passive-aggressive communicators who may appear passive at first, but when they feel stuck, they may confront the situation head-on. People with this communication style usually have a hard time acknowledging their anger, but do well with communicating through body language. 

Lastly, there are assertive communicators, which is what you should aspire to be. These people have an open communication link but aren't overbearing. They easily express their own ideas, feelings, needs, and desires while considering the feelings of others. They also aim to balance the needs of everyone in the conversation. 

#7. Practice proper vocal delivery

The way you deliver your message can be just as important as the message itself. 

Even without words, your voice, pace, and intonation tell the other person what you're trying to say. You can make or break a conversation with the pitch and volume of your voice. At the same time, other people can also determine if they should take you seriously or if you're being sarcastic.

When you’re trying to work on your communication skills, mastering your pitch, tone, volume, and intonation is crucial. After all, you wouldn’t want to talk loud and fast on your first date, right? 

By matching your vocal delivery to the situation, you'll be able to communicate without creating tension, and you’ll be able to put the other person at ease.

#8. Don’t practice silent treatment

Silent Treatment is one of the most ineffective ways to communicate. It may seem like a way to protect yourself from being vulnerable and even hurt, but in reality, it will only cause more harm than good.

While it may seem easier to practice the silent treatment instead of starting a conversation, research shows that it's never worth it. It not only decreases satisfaction but also diminishes intimacy. 

When it comes to effective communication, it’s all about timing. You can't expect someone to be receptive to your ideas when they're busy or stressed. Instead, wait for the situation to ease before talking. 

#9. Use “I” statements, not “You” statements

When you're discussing an issue with someone, it's easy to get caught up in the blame game. Instead of focusing on what the other person is doing wrong, try to focus on how you feel instead.

Take responsibility for your own feelings by saying “I feel X.” This allows the other person to take responsibility for their own feelings by saying “I feel Y.”

According to Conflict Research Consortium at the University of Colorado, “I” statements are less intimidating and accusatory, which makes the other person less defensive. 

For example, if you’re texting someone and they’re taking a long time to reply, tell them “I feel a little frustrated that you’re taking more than an hour to reply to my texts,” instead of “You don’t really care about me because you take such a long time to reply.” 

#10.  Practice nonjudgmental communication

It's so easy to automatically make judgments about other people based on their behavior or appearance. And while this can't be avoided at times, it doesn't mean you should express your judgments. 

Instead, practice acceptance and respect. Other people’s feelings are valid, even if it's different from yours. As much as you can, try your best to stay empathetic and put yourself in other people’s shoes. 

Non-judgmental communication means switching off your personal train of thought and trying to hear what the other person is saying through their own set of values and beliefs. 

By having a nonjudgmental attitude toward other people, you can communicate in a healthier way. 

Sebastian Klein

Author Bio:
Sebastian Klein is the founder of RelationshipsAdvice.co. He loves writing insanely practical guides based on scientific studies to help couples and individuals create the relationship they want. After a tough breakup, he started studying relationship dynamics to help people get from the “What should I do?” to “How to do it.” If you want to get in touch with him, visit his blog.

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