Communication, by definition, is “the imparting or exchanging of information.” This is generally done between people in a one-one-one setting or in a group through dialogue. As a communications professional, I know the importance of being able to express my thoughts and ideas with clarity so the person (or people) on the receiving end will be able to understand the message. But I also know that having solid communication skills goes beyond the art of merely talking.

In order to be a well-rounded, effective communicator you should not only speak clearly in expressing your facts and opinons but you must have the following:

Be a good listener: When engaging in conversation it is as important to LISTEN as it is to articulate your thoughts and opinions. The problem with many folks is they are so busy trying to get out their next point that they only half hear what is being said in the conversation. Being a good listener allows you to make sense of and understand what the other person is saying. It also shows you’re being attentive. People who have trouble with attentiveness may have trouble listening and if you aren’t a good listener, it’s nearly impossible to be engaging.

Body Language control: One of my pet peeves is having someone talk to me and not look me in the eyes. Now I know some experts say that’s an indication that the person may an introvert and feels nervous or anxious about making eye-to-eye contact but it can also say you aren’t really all that engaged in our conversation or you just might be flat-out lying. On the other hand, I do know establishing eye contact 100 percent of the time can be a real challenge and it is okay to look away from time to time—as that may be an indication that you’re thinking.

Be a Reader:: Since I’m a journalist, I make it my business to read a variety of content from various sources so when I engage in a current events topic, I can make references to specific articles or books. Opinions are fine but you step up your communications A-game when you demonstrate knowledge based on facts you have gathered.

Patience: Now I know this one may come as a surprise to some but this is one of those skills for people who finds themselves in disagreement with something that’s been said or caught up in a heated debate. Having patience means not losing your composure when/if the conversation starts to turn ugly or the person you’re talking to won’t let you get a word in edgewise. This is where being a good listener and having body control will work in your favor.

Those who have good communication skills are more likely to treat others with respect, listen thoughtfully without jumping the gun and make sure they communicate their thoughts and opinions with clarity.