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It’s true that the pen is mightier than the sword, and the same could be said of communication skills. Listening well is more powerful than speaking loudly.
Known as a “soft skill,” good communication is a subtle force that will open doors professionally, improve your relationships and increase your personal happiness.
These 7 online resources will help you become better at this all-important skill.
SkillsYouNeed’s Communication Skills page is a comprehensive resource, covering communication in all aspects of life. It’s well-organized, beginning with general headings such as “Interpersonal Skills” and quickly linking to specific topics on everything from “Active Listening” to “Dealing with Criticism.”
What makes SkillsYouNeed different from other informational sites is its practical application of communication skills. There is a section on communication in the workplace with tips on how to give presentations, conduct meetings and build rapport with colleagues.
Most people struggle with public speaking, especially in professional settings where they want to make a good impression. SkillsYouNeed provides easy and actionable tips. For example, the page on meetings explains what to do — write down any agreed upon item. It also goes into the behaviors that make meetings ineffective.
SkillsYouNeed also offers a holistic approach to improving communication skills. In addition to advice on communicating with others, there are pages on personal well-being topics that impact external communication, such as self-esteem and dealing with stress.
Do you like taking personality quizzes? This 25-question survey from Psychology Today only takes 10 minutes to compete and provides helpful insights into your communication strengths and weaknesses. Rate your agreement on a scale of 1-5 with statements such as “I find it easy to see things from someone else’s point of view.”
What makes this test different from all those “What 5-Letter Word Describes You Perfectly” quizzes on Facebook is the quality of feedback. It’s specific, giving deep insight such as, “You are extremely adept at interpreting other people’s words and actions.” It also links specific skills to the positive outcomes they produce, such as this response: “which likely results in very few misunderstandings.”
There are two levels of feedback available. For free, you get a “snapshot report” with a paragraph-length description of your score in one area such as “Insightfulness.” For $4.95, or $6.90 for a PDF copy, you can purchase your complete results in all 5 areas. But even if you don’t want to pay for the full report, the snapshot version is helpful and worth the time it takes to finish the quiz.
All in all, the amount and variety of resources offered through the Dale Carnegie website distinguishes it from similar sites. While there are paid (albeit quite expensive) training courses offered, the site offers great free resources like this article on “8 Effective Listening Skills for Sales Professionals.”
You might also like to check out the site’s free ebooks on topics such as “Presentation Effectiveness: Speak More Effectively Guide” or “Communicating with Diplomacy & Tact.”
Out of all of Coursera’s free courses, I’ve honed in on two in particular that provide insightful communication improvement tools.
The first is the site’s “Introduction to Public Speaking” course, which includes 18 hours of learning videos, peer assessments and quizzes. This course will help you fine tune your public speaking and presentation skills so you can feel more confident in your communication abilities when speaking to an audience of people.
The course is structured with three main focus areas: impromptu, informative and persuasive speaking. As you become more comfortable speaking in front of groups of people, chances are your daily communication skills will improve as well.
The other communication course you should check out is Coursera’s “Introduction to Communication Science.” Unlike the public speaking course, this course takes a more theoretical approach to communication improvement by helping you better understand the scientific concepts, theories and models that surround interpersonal and intrapersonal communication.
In addition to learning about specific communication theories, you’ll also learn about cultural differences in communication and how social forces impact communications. This course includes 28 hours of videos and assignments, as well as a final exam.
Together, these two courses provide an interesting and multifaceted approach to communication improvement.
The Muse is another great resource for career advice. It’s different from Dale Carnegie because it emphasizes modern communication tools like social media and targets a younger audience of college students and new arrivals to the job market and career ladder.
Creativity is another distinctive feature of The Muse. One article on the Communication page details a college student’s success with emailing very successful people like Arianna Huffington. It doesn’t overlook small but important details, either. You may not have thought about it before, but even your punctuation sends a message to others.
Many couples cite poor communication as a major frustration in their relationship. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a permanent problem. Dr. John Gottman has researched marriage for nearly forty years and The Gottman Relationship Blog is a treasure trove of his scientifically-proven findings.
Gottman separates couples into “Masters” and “Disasters” and the blog is full of articles explaining how to communicate like a master while avoiding disaster. Many of the tips can also be applied to non-romantic relationships with family members and friends. For example, express interest by asking open-ended questions. This is a great communication technique that would be useful in any conversation.
If you want to improve your communication with your partner, your friends and other loved ones, check out The Gottman Relationship Blog for research-based ideas.
If you need quick tips you can put into practice right now, check out the “Nonverbal Communication” page from About Education. It’s easy to navigate and scroll to find a resource that catches your attention. The different resources include informational pages such as “The Nine Types of Nonverbal Communication” and actionable advice on improving your nonverbal communication and reading body language.
If you want more information, About Education recommends The Definitive Book of Body Language by Allan and Barbara Pease. A detailed book review accompanies the recommendation to help you decide if you will find this book helpful.
Go Forth and Conquer
Put your new communication skills into action and prepare to be amazed. As you increase your ability to positively influence others, there isn’t anything you can’t do. The positive effects of good communication will filter through your entire life from your career to your relationships and your mental, emotional and physical health.
In what other ways do you hone your communication skills? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below!
Image Credit: Blake Bronstad via SnapwireSnaps