How to Improve Communication Skills Quickly: Four Simple Steps for Change

If someone were to ask me, “How can I grow quickly in my ability to communicate?” I would probably say that it’s more complicated than that.  Like other psychologists I would be likely point to the many factors that go into someone’s communication style.  For example, there is a somewhat predictable set of problems in learning how to improve communication skills  when your parents were alcoholics.

How to Improve Communication:  It’s Hard to Listen When You are Having  a Temper Tantrum

But in reality, there are some very simple ways to greatly improve your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.  Consider this simple observation:  in order for a young child to learn to talk, they must be able to listen and speak.  Oh, and the young child needs to have a minimal amount of emotonal control.   It’s really hard to listen when you are having a temper tantrum.  It really doesn’t get much more simple than that.

Now, consider a husband and wife having an argument that is getting them nowhere.  She doesn’t feel like he is really hearing what she is saying.  He feels misunderstood.  They are both getting angry.  Each of them gets louder to try to drive their own point home.  But as the volume increases, so does the defensiveness.  Listening deteriorates.  Misunderstandings flourish in the soil of poor listening.  Soon the growing anger spawns an irratioinal, frenzied thought process that pretty much nails the coffin shut on any hope of productive communication.  What’s going on here?  Answer:  it’s hard to listen when you are having a temper tantrum.

How to Improve Communications Skills in a Matter of Days or Weeks

When couples later analyze together an exchange like I just described, they often see it in terms of blame.  So the first step  for learning how to improve communication skills quickly is to change the question.  Instead of, “Who is at fault here?” the question needs to become, “How can I calm myself down enough to listen?”

The next step for how to improve communication skills quickly is to find a method for learning physical relaxation skills.  Relaxation exercises involving deep breathing are the best, in my opinion, because if your brain sees that your lungs are chilling out, it will start calming the rest of your body.  This is the critical step for how to improve communication skills quickly.  You simply have to calm yourself if you are going to listen and you simply cannot have a productive conversation without listening.

How to Improve Communication Skills Quickly:  Two More Simple Steps for Change

The next steps are to practice the method for a few weeks every day and start shifting your mental focus on listening whenever you feel your adrenaline starting to pump through your brain in the form of anger.  In a nutshell, to learn how to improve communication skills quickly, you need to do these four steps over a period of 14-30 days:

  1. Change the question.  Instead of asking how is to blame, focus on how you can calm yourself down enough to listen.
  2. Find a method for learning physical relaxation skills
  3. Practice the method daily for 2 to 3 weeks.
  4. Focus on listening instead of talking.
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