It doesn't matter who you are, where you work, what your goals are or what you've done up to this point. Universally, you have an inherent advantage if you
are a better communicator.
On a team, you'll have fewer miscommunications and stronger influence. As an employee, you'll carry more influence and earn more respect from your bosses
and supervisors. As an entrepreneur, you'll have an easier time managing employees, updating partners and investors, and even securing new clients.
Those strengths will give you an edge in a number of different areas simultaneously.
Related: Leadership: Can You Learn to Communicate and Embody It?
I encourage you to take these 10 actions—all of which can make you a better communicator:
1. Adopt a few new mediums.
When someone says "communicate," what do you think of? Speaking? Calling? Texting? Skyping? FaceTiming? Facebooking? The options for communication are
practically limitless, and every platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. In 2016, try to break out of your shell; adopt a handful of new mediums
that you've never tried or that you gave up some time ago. Become better acquainted with the protocols, strengths and weaknesses of each.
2. Meet more strangers.
If you only talk to the same people over and over, you'll never develop as a communicator. Make it a point to talk to more people you've never spoken to
before. They could be new people at networking events or strangers on the street—it doesn't matter. Strike up a basic conversation with small talk and
see where it leads.
3. Ask more questions.
Asking questions does two things: It forces you to think through the conversation at hand, making you more invested; and it gives your conversation partner
more opportunities to give you information. You'll walk away in a better position and with more information—what more could you ask for?
[RELATED: Improve employee engagement metrics by planning fun, collaborative internal events.]
4. Strive for specificity.
In every conversation—in person, online, or some other context—look for more opportunities to be specific. Do you reference "a project"? What project
would that be? Are you "too busy"? Too busy with what? Specificity gives you more credibility and also forces you to think through your statements
5. Trim the fat.
All of us are guilty of bloated communication at one point or another. Filler words in conversation, like "um" or "uh," take more of everyone's time.
Expanded requests like, "It would be nice if you could do this for me" instead of "please do this for me," dilute your meaning. Strive for simpler, more
concise forms of communication in every medium.
How to Effectively Communicate With Different Brain Types
6. Quickly address your main point.
When you write an email or long text message, how long does it take you to get to your main point? Chances are, it's somewhere in the middle of your draft.
Strive to include your main point as early as possible to capture your reader's attention. The same can be true for vocal conversations as well—take
your intentions clear from the beginning. It saves a lot of time.
7. Practice better body language.
Body language isn't important for online interactions, but in person it's even more important than the vocabulary you use. Practice better body language in
front of a mirror or with a family member, and introduce it into real situations. Keep a straight, upright posture, breathe deep, look your listener in the
eye and remain in an open, inviting position.
8. Prepare for more interchanges.
How often do you "wing it" on a client call or show up to a presentation planning to improvise? It's possible to over-prepare, of course, but for the most
part, preparation is always a good thing. Think about your words, the order of your speech and possible rebuttals that could come up before any
interchange. You'll be glad you did—on more than one occasion.
9. Practice humility in every conversation.
You don't know everything. You aren't good at everything. There's a lot of world out there you haven't discovered, and a lot of details you're missing even
in your own area of expertise. It's good to be confident in your opinions in conversations, but don't neglect the practice of humility. Admit when you
don't know something. Embrace dissenting opinions. You'll be seen as wiser and more approachable, and you'll stand to learn more, as well.
10. Talk less and listen more.
This is key. The more you listen to other people, the more information you'll have, the wider and more sympathetic your vocabulary will become and the more
perspectives you'll be able to incorporate into your life. The less time you spend talking, the more time you can spend listening, and listening is only
going to help you. Listen to your bosses, mentors, teammates, employees, relatives and even perfect strangers. Everyone has something to teach you.
As with all new year's resolutions, there's one caveat to ensuring you get the benefits from these practices: You have to remain committed to them. Doing
them once or twice in January isn't going to cut it; you need to practice them, daily if possible, and for months, before you start to reap the real
results. Communication, like any other skill, demands prioritization and repetition to improve. Make this the month you get started.
3 Ways to Interact With Others That Will Make You More Charismatic
Jayson DeMers is
the founder and CEO of AudienceBloom.
A version of this article originally appeared on
Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article first appeared on Ragan.com in Feb. 2016.