Becoming a better communicator

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Communication skills are something you can constantly improve on. Find out how you can become a better communicator.

Key points

  • Everyone has a different communication style that works for them; there is no 'best' way to communicate.
  • It is important that you know exactly what you are trying to say and why.
  • When communicating, consider timing, body language, be specific and remember to listen.
  • After you've communicated what you wanted to, think about how it went and if there is anything you would do differently next time.

Being a good communicator is a skill for life. How you communicate depends on your personality. Each person has their own style, but the following tips can help you improve your communication skills.

1. What is the message?

What are you trying to say? Answer the following questions to come up with your message.

  • What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? For instance, what do you want the other person to know or do because of what you say? Knowing your goal will help keep you focused on what is important.
  • What is important to the other person? Think about or write down what you think is important to the person (or people) you will be communicating with. For example, your safety is important to your parents. Before you ask permission to do something, be ready to explain how you will keep yourself safe. This will show that you are thinking about them and their concerns.

2. How will you communicate your message?

What has helped you communicate something effectively in the past? What has made it more difficult?

Other teens offer these suggestions:

  • Timing matters. Plan ahead and choose a time when no other important topics will be discussed. Think about meeting in a place where few distractions will occur.
  • Practice staying calm! It can be hard to think clearly when your emotions are too strong.
    • Before you communicate: Take time to chill out. Listen to music, sit quietly, go for a walk or do whatever works for you. You can also write down some key points of what you want to say and practice saying them in the mirror.
    • During your conversations: If you feel yourself getting emotional or upset, practice taking a few deep breaths. Focus on the movement of your breath, in and out.
  • Remember to listen. When you communicate you need to speak, but you also need to show the other person that you are listening. Most times, the best way to communicate is to be a good listener first!
  • Be aware of body language. You communicate with your body just as much, if not more, as you do with your voice. The way you stand, your facial expression, and the tone of your voice all help the person you are communicating with to figure out the meaning of the words you are using.
  • Use 'I' statements instead of 'you' statements. This helps you own your feelings and does not put the other person on the defensive. For example, try saying, "I felt angry when I was told that I needed to be admitted to the hospital."
  • Be specific. Be clear about what you want when you communicate your goal. For example, if you want to be more involved in making decisions, try saying, "When a decision needs to be made that involves me, I want to be there and I want to be asked for my opinion."
  • Reward yourself. Communicating can be difficult. When you go through the effort of doing something difficult, remember to pat yourself on the back for trying and doing something that is not easy!

3. How did it work?

  • Think back. Afterwards, think back to your goal. Did you achieve it? What went well? What could have gone better? What would you do differently in the future?

Remember, people want to hear from you! You are the expert on your thoughts, your feelings and your body. Communicating about things that are important to you can be difficult at first; start small and it will get easier with practice and feedback.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019