Improve Communication Skills Today: 4 Ways

Updated: May 9, 2020

by: Dr. Jeff Brockman, Professional Counselor Associate - New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC - Charlotte, NC

Ready to Improve Communication Skills? Most Could Benefit:

The way in which we say things has a big impact on the success of our conversations. Have you ever felt like someone was not hearing what you are saying? Do people cut you off before you are finished speaking? Have your conversations gotten out-of-hand too quickly, turning into arguments? Are you ready to improve your communication skills?

As a mental health counselor, I am aware that improving communication skills is not simply for married people. If you want to improve communication skills, this can help every type of relationship - including friend-to-friend, parent-child, boss-employee, as well as counselor-client. Good communication skills just make for plain good mental health.

Common Barriers to Improving Communication Skills

Several barriers to improving communication skills exist. Let us look at the roots of this communication gap.

#1 Barrier to Improving Communication Skills - Listening to Respond

In general, people do not listen well and often do not take the time to understand what their conversation partner is saying. If you want to improve communication skills, this means understanding before we respond.

#2 Barrier to Improving Communication Skills - Making it about YOU

Second, we use the pronoun you almost unconsciously, and often many more times than we realize. Later in this article, we will discuss why the pronoun you is so unproductive, and even harmful to successful communication.

#3 Barrier to Improving Communication Skills - Losing Track

Third, I observe a lot of what I call "ADHD conversations." When two people begin talking about topic A, one of them brings in topic B, then topic C and so on. Many conversations get to two or more topics WAY too quickly! Focus is a key to improving communication skills.

#4 Barrier to Improving Communication Skills - Interrupting

And last but not certainly not least, we also interrupt each other much more often than we realize.

Again, it is important to state that much of these barriers to improving communication skills happen unconsciously - underneath our conscious awareness - and without harmful intent by your conversation partner.

The Solutions:

In this blog, we are going to cover Four Ways To Improve Communication Skills Today, all of which improve immediate and future conversations. These four skill-sets are:

1) using the pronoun I instead of you

2) mirroring

3) writing before speaking

4) taping a conversation

These tools may well keep you from having to Google “therapist near me!”

#1 Way to Improve Communication Skills Today - Use “I” instead of “You”

When talking with someone, we are MUCH better served by avoiding the word “you” (the second person voice). Avoiding this at all is actually quite difficult, but we must at least keep “you” out of the subject of a sentence if you want to improve communication skills.

To find out why, try this experiment:

Find a conversation partner to talk with you, whether it be a parent, a child, a spouse, or a co-worker. Try two ways of structuring a conversation, called scenario A and scenario B.

In scenario A, your partner says to you, “You are not listening to me.” Notice how you feel; write down your feelings and thoughts for Scenario A. Then, try a second way. For scenario B, have your conversation partner say to you, “I don’t feel like I am being heard!” Again, write down your thoughts and feelings regarding Scenario B.

How does each scenario feel? Chances are when you heard, “You are not listening to me,” you felt accused or attacked and much more likely to be thinking about your own response in defense. It will be important to minimize a defensive stance if you want to set yourself up for success to improve communication skills. If we don't, the REACTIVITY tends to build...

This increases the likelihood that your nervous system goes into fight or flight mode. When this happens, cortisol and epinephrine (adrenaline) is released into the bloodstream as blood is pumped into your arms and legs for ACTION and away from your brain for critical thought and compassion.