Communication skills are vital to relationships, to our careers and to our overall happiness in life. Communication, however, is one of the areas people with anxiety have difficulty with. According to the Anxiety Disorder Association of America, problems with communication skills add to relationship problems and after treatment began and communication skills increased, an improvement in relationships were seen.
Below are tips to help improve communication skills:
Practice slowing down while you speak. When people are nervous, scared or agitated, they often speak quickly, making it hard for others to understand and showing their nervousness. Slowing down can make you appear more confident. You must be careful, however, not to slow down too much people are waiting for you finish a sentence. Practice in front of a mirror, speaking slowly and clearly.
Use different pitches in your speech. Speaking in a monotone can make you a boring speaker and people tend to drift away. Although you don't want to speak in a sing-songy manner, you do want to add different pitches into your speech to make it more dynamic and to sound more confident.
Watch news anchors or television personalities. Pay attention to how they speak and try to imitate some of their speech patterns.
Pay attention to the volume of your speech. Use volume appropriate to the situation. Raise the volume of your speaking voice if you are in a large space or speaking in front of a group. Use a lower volume when speaking one on one in a small, enclosed area.
Make eye contact with the person or people you are speaking to. When you don't make eye contact you can be perceived as being incompetent, not caring or not being knowledgeable about the subject you are talking about. Looking a person in the eye makes him or her more confident in what you are saying.
Learn to be an attentive listener. Many times people with anxiety, especially social anxiety, will be worrying about what the other person thinks, about what he or she will say when it is their turn to speak, or whether he or she will say something wrong. All of these thoughts cause the person with anxiety to not listen to what is being said. Being attentive and listening to what the other person is saying is an important part of good communication. Lean toward the person speaking, repeat back what he or she has said, and focus on the conversation.
Speak from an "I" perspective. This helps during conflict. Speaking about how a situation affected you, rather than placing blame on the other person. For example, "I felt..." rather than, "You did..." This can help to diffuse a potential argument or conflict and still provide a resolution.
Communication is a two way street. Allow for everyone to have a turn to speak. Avoid interrupting other people when they are speaking, instead, allow him or her turn to finish the thought before offering your own opinion. Effective communication is based on mutual understanding.
Use a tape recorder and tape yourself speaking. This can help you to hear whether you speak too fast, too slowly, in a monotone or other places your speech can use improvement.
Ask questions. A conversation should be an exchange of ideas between two or more people. Take the time to ask questions about what the other person is saying. This will show you are paying attention but also that you are interested in what he or she has to say and what his or her opinion may be.
Be conscious of non-verbal cues. Many times rudeness shows up, not in what someone says, but through non-verbal cues. Some examples can be yawning while someone is speaking or looking in another direction while someone is speaking to you. Make sure you are paying attention physically as well.