Communication skills are one of the most important life skills we don’t practice very often. If you are good at communicating, you can land yourself a job, impart your lessons to others and generally get other people to understand what you’re trying to say.

Here are some tips that can help you improve your communication skills.

5. Watch Your Body Language

I learned, that people follow a confident person’s suggestion far more than a person who is not confident so the idea is be confident. If you want to be perceived as confident, then you should act like it. Your body should be straight, your expression should be comfortable and natural, your breathing should be full and proper. Make eye contact but don’t be creepy. Learn to smile when appropriate. Practice being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

4. Avoid using fillers.

Um’s and ah’s make you appear like you can’t be trusted. Smile and pause when you’re not sure. Use words like, “let me think for a moment” or “I’m not too sure but at the top of my head, what I’m thinking is…” or “That’s a good question then clarify by rephrasing the question.” Learn to be more effective.

3. Prepare some topics or questions in advance.

When I was young, there are lots of times when I get to meet people I’m genuinely interested in but nothing comes out of my mouth when I talk to them. I’m genuinely interested in them and knowing more about them and building a relationship, either business, friendship or whatever but the result was the most akward disaster moments of my life. I met this cute Chinese girl in college and the first thing I ask is “Do you know Kung Fu?” “Did they teach you martial arts in your school?” “Do you know anyone who’s a Kung Fu master?” the answer was no on three questions and the conversation was over. I’m turning twenty nine soon and these days I’m still experiencing moments of extreme silence with people, I just met, but mostly that’s because I’m not interested in getting to know them. If it’s a job or I’m meeting a person I like, the conversation flows, because I already know what to ask. Here’s an activity. Take out a piece of paper and write down ten questions you’d ask your favorite movie star. Next is write ten questions you’d ask someone you admire or like to be like? Play with your answers and try asking the questions to random people. You’d be surprised at the answers you encounter.

2. Share stories

Stories help you connect with a person and at the same time share a message more effectively. When you apply for work, it’s hard to prove that you’re good at what you do because you don’t have a recording of how you work to prove to your interviewer how awesome you are. Almost all the time, people will never believe you if you tell them that you’re trustworthy, or you work hard or you can think of solutions to problems most people are stuck in. You can however tell them that you are without directly telling them that you are by sharing a story about a situation like that. You need to understand, people won’t give you a shot to prove yourself, but if you can help them imagine that hiring you is a good decision through your stories then the odds will be in your favor.

1. Learn to ask follow up questions and lead the conversation

It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting. Earlier I asked you to prepare questions in advance, if you mindlessly ask questions, you’ll come across as if you are reading a script. Let me remind you, we ask questions because we are interested in finding out. This is not a useless activity that you do for the sake of asking questions. If you’re applying for a job and they tell you many people find the work difficult. I’ll ask why or ask if they can tell me more about the work and why people find it hard. If you’re on a date and the person you are with says she likes thai food you don’t immediately take her to a thai restaurant and order the extra spicy stuff. Otherwise you’ll go back to your friends and tell them a story about how you never saw her again. Find out exactly what she likes first. Ask enough questions on a topic to genuinely know. You see people have different opinions on the same topic so ask follow up questions.

The last one I’d like to share is that you should practice. It takes time to get good with your communication skills but over time a little practice on a regular basis can help improve your communication skills then. Now go back to that piece of paper and write more questions. Feel free to ask in the comments bellow.