The ability to communicate effectively with managers, colleagues, and staff is essential, no matter what industry you work in. Workers in the digital age must know how to effectively convey and receive messages in person as well as via phone, email, and social media. What communication skills will help ensure you are successful in your career?
Here are the top 10 communication skills that will help you stand out
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. No one likes communicating with someone who only cares about themselves and does not take the time to listen to the other person.
Take the time to practice active listening. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding (“So, what you’re saying is…”). Through active listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond appropriately.
2. Nonverbal Communication
Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone all colour the message you are trying to convey. A relaxed, open stance (arms open, legs relaxed), and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable, and will encourage others to speak openly with you.
Eye contact is also important; you want to look the person in the eye to demonstrate that you are focused on the person and the conversation (however, be sure not to stare at the person, which can make him or her uncomfortable).
Also pay attention to other people’s nonverbal signals while you are talking.
Often, nonverbal signals convey how a person is really feeling. For example, if the person is not looking you in the eye, he or she might be uncomfortable or hiding the truth.
3. Clarity and Concision
Good communication means saying just enough – don’t say too little or talk too much. Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you’re speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. Think about what you want to say before you say it; this will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or confusing your audience.
With a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage other people to engage in open and honest communication with you. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. Taking the time to personalise a message will make the recipient feel more appreciated.
It is important to be confident in all of your interactions with others. Confidence ensures your co-workers that you believe in and will follow through with what you are saying.
Even when you disagree with an employer, co-worker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view. This comes from really listening and understanding, letting go of your own agenda or the need to be right.
A good communicator should enter any conversation with a flexible, open mind. Be open to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. By being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with people with whom you disagree, you will be able to have more honest, productive conversations.
People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Simple actions like using a person’s name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.
Convey respect through email by taking the time to check what you have written. If you send a sloppily written, confusing email, the recipient will think you do not respect them enough to think through your communication.
Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important communication skill. Managers should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback,
Similarly, you should be able to accept, and even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you are given, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of the issue, and make efforts to implement the feedback.
10. Picking the Right Medium
An important communication skill is to simply know what form of communication to use. For example, some serious conversations (layoffs, changes in salary, etc.) are almost always best done in person.
You should also think about the person with whom you wish to speak – if they are very busy people (such as your boss, perhaps), you might want to convey your message through email. People will appreciate your thoughtful means of communication, and will be more likely to respond positively to you.