Freelance Writer, Blogger, and Musician
When you apply for a job, you will be asked if you have certain skills. For instance, your employer may want to find out if you are familiar with Microsoft Office software or if you can use QuickBooks or Photoshop.
However, there are certain skills that can’t be taught, and these can be the most valuable skills of all. One of these is effective communication skills. If you don’t have effective communication skills, you may seem unfriendly or even incompetent. You may also be unable to express yourself clearly, causing confusion in professional situations.
Communication skills can’t be taught, but they can be developed. If you know which ones have the most importance in the workplace, you will be able to improve them to become a more valuable employee. Here are some communication skills you should be working on.
When we think of effective communication skills, we often think of how well we are conveying a point to others. But it also includes how well we are understanding what people are saying to us. That’s where active listening comes in.
Active listening involves paying attention. It requires asking questions when you don’t understand something. It may also include repeating and rephrasing certain things the other person is saying. You should be paying attention to their words, as well as their body language and facial expressions.
Also active listening definitely doesn’t involve being on your cell phone or getting distracted by your surroundings when you are being spoken to. You should be present in the moment, and give the speaker your undivided attention.
When you actively listen to someone, it helps you better understand what they are saying, and it is also a sign of respect. It will go far in helping you move forward in your career.
Finding the Right Communication Method
In today’s world of technology, there are so many ways to communicate. There’s phone, email, video conferencing… and the list goes on. It’s important to find the right form of communication for the given circumstance.
For example, if your boss asks you to do something and you want to let him or her know you completed the task, you may just send a simple text letting them know the work is done. On the other hand, if you are delivering information that’s more complex or needs clarification, a phone call may be in order. If you are sending documents that need to be looked over, email is best.
Want to add a personal touch without a commute? Video conferencing will be your best choice.
Friendliness is essential in good communication. It will create a pleasant atmosphere in the workplace among co-workers, and it is of extreme importance if you are speaking to clients and customers.
Some people are more friendly than others, but there are things you can do if it doesn’t come naturally to you. For example, you can smile more. A simple, ‘Good morning’ and ‘How are you?’ will go a long way.
You can also be friendly by trying to be thoughtful to the people you work with. If you speak to someone and he or she tells you they have a birthday coming up, try to remember the date and wish them a Happy Birthday when it rolls around. If they mention a loved one is not feeling well, make a point to ask after their health.
Confidence will always be one of the top effective communication skills. Confidence makes people listen and makes what you say more believable.
For some, confident doesn’t come naturally. However, it’s necessary if you want people to take you seriously in a professional setting. You can make yourself appear more confident by looking people in the eye when you talk to them. Maintain good posture and know what you’re going to say before you say it, so you don’t end up stumbling over your words.
Give and Take Feedback
Feedback is an effective communication technique that should be incorporated on a professional level. It can provide a more positive attitude in the workplace, and it shows that you are capable of thinking critically.
It can be difficult to give feedback because it’s not always well received. If you express your thoughts in a friendly, confident manner, it is likely to go over well. On the other hand, if the feedback could be construed negatively, then make the feedback general. That would likely help keep people from feeling personally attacked.
It’s also important to take feedback well. If someone gives you feedback, don’t respond negatively. Be openminded and take notes. Analyze why their feedback was good and how you can apply it in the future. If you don’t agree with them, think of a healthy way to express your feelings.
Writing skills are among the most essential types of communication skills. With an increased reliance on messaging and email, there is an emphasis on being able to express yourselves with the written word.
When you are writing to someone, it’s best to present the communication as if they have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s better to oversimplify than under simplify. Use clear and concise language that gets the point across.
Before hitting the send button, proofread your message to eliminate grammatical and spelling errors. Not only can a grammatical mistake make you look unprofessional, but it can also change the entire context of what you are saying.
If you don’t feel like you will be able to express yourself clearly through a message, pick up the phone.
Volume and Clarity
When speaking, you must be clear and audible. You will not communicate effectively if no one hears what you are saying. A person’s implicit biases may tell them that you aren’t confident or that you are uneducated if your volume or clarity is shaky.
Not everyone has a clear speaking voice. If you have trouble projecting, this is something you may want to work on. As you work to develop those skills, remember that speaking too loudly may come as being disrespectful.
Some people have speech impediments or heavy accents, and it may be advisable for those individuals to work with a speech therapist if they have to do a lot of communicating in the workplace.
Being empathetic means that you have the ability to understand what people are feeling. It plays a huge factor when it comes to developing good communication skills. It will allow you to stand in another person’s shoes so you can come up with the right responses at the right time.
For instance, you may be dealing with a customer who is frustrated with one of your company’s products. If the customer is becoming irate, you may be tempted to say something that will get your company in trouble and just might get you fired.
Instead of going that route, try putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Think of how you would feel and what you would want done if you were in their situation. Then use that logic to respond to the customer and come up with an appropriate solution.
Non-verbal cues are natural communication techniques that you must be aware of because they are not always intentional. So, let’s say you are talking to someone, and you say something that makes them wince. They may not verbally express their displeasure, but you can take the wince as a cue that you should take to dial things back a notch.
You should also be conscious of the verbal cues you are sending. If you are proposing an idea or asking for something you want, it’s not advisable to come into the room with your shoulders slumped and your arms hugging your body. A relaxed pose and good posture will show that you are confident making a positive response more likely.
Promptness is a sign of good communication skills. It is especially essential in today’s world of technology.
If someone messages you, they typically want to hear back sooner rather than later. You can gauge the importance of the situation to determine if you need to respond immediately or if it can wait a few hours. Waiting longer than 24 hours is considered bad form, and it will make you seem unreliable.
At the same time, if you send communications to someone and don’t hear back, it’s advisable to follow up with a phone call. This way you know your message was received and didn’t get lost in the fray.
Presentation skills is one of the most underdeveloped communication skills. They aren’t easy for everyone to master because presenting typically requires speaking to a group, which can be extremely stressful for some. You must use an engaging tone, and make the product you are presenting seem attractive.
Developing presentation skills will take a mix of natural talent and education. You may consider taking classes in speech and marketing if you plan on pursuing a career where presentations are necessary.
Making Communication Skills Shine
Some people are stronger in certain communication skills than others. Here are some tips that will help you work with what you’ve got when you’re looking for employment.
Find a Job That Complements Your Skills
When searching for a job, the communication skills necessary may not be listed in the job description, but you can infer which ones will be desirable. Think of the ways in which you communicate best to determine if you are a good match for certain positions. Be sure to mention those communication skills in your cover letter.
Use Your Skills During the Interview Process
Let’s face it, if you interview with a company and the interviewee can tell you are not listening to them or if you are distracted by your phone, you’re not going to get the position. Engage those active listening skills, and show that you are paying attention by providing the answers the firm is looking for and asking for clarification if there is anything you don’t understand.
Effective Communication Skills are Forever
Good communication skills don’t go away when once you get the job. Maintaining the communication skills that you developing and are already good at will go a long way. This is especially true when it comes to creating a positive workplace atmosphere, keeping your job, and working towards promotions and raises. Make sure to continue to communicate effectively when speaking to colleagues, customers and superiors.
There are many skills that can get you ahead in your career, but communication skills are among the most valuable. The tips in this article will help you become and stay an asset to your company.