“What is the most important thing that I need to excel in my career?”
This is probably the most common question that many of my friends, employees, and acquaintances have asked me so many times.
And pretty much all the time, when I share my answer, they seem to get surprised because my answer to this pointed question is limited to just one word – communication.
According to me, good communication skills are vital to an individual’s success in their career. Sadly, this is something that many professionals overlook and fail to develop.
You will agree with the fact that the need for communication is everywhere, be it your personal life or professional life. Especially, for growing in today’s fast-paced work environment, you cannot take your communication skills lightly. It doesn’t matter whether you are a software developer or a digital marketer, you must know how to interact and put forward your ideas among the people.
For this class, my motive is to provide you crucial information about communication and throw light on the importance of good communication skills at the workplace.
Also, later in this class, I have highlighted all the key skills that you must develop to become an expert communicator, I highlight Importance of Communication Skills, What are the 7C’s of Communication,9 Good Communication Skills That You Must Learn, Barriers to Effective Communication and a lot more.
So, let us start with this.
What Are Good Communication Skills?
Good communication skills are the abilities that assist you to become effective at sharing information with others. While some communication skills come naturally, you need to develop other essential skills to be able to leave a mark on the people with whom you converse.
What is the Importance of Communication Skills?
Communication skills allow you to interact with people effectively and let you make your presence felt by the people present in a discussion or a meeting. In a team, being able to communicate effectively with your colleagues will help build trust, strengthen your professional relationships, boosts teamwork, develop a sense of belongingness, and help you to become more productive.
For every professional, it’s imperative to put effort into improving their communication skills. This will help them to perform better at the job and advance in their career.
As I see communication as an inevitable part of our professional life, I want to express the importance of communication in my own words:
“Without proper communication, even the greatest of ideas can easily go unnoticed, and eventually, wasted.”
What are the 7C’s of Communication?
To ensure that whatever information you are sharing with others is understandable and creates the desired impact, you need to adhere to the 7 C’s of communication. It doesn’t matter whether you are engaging in verbal or written communication, it is possible to communicate effectively by focusing on all the 7 major aspects of communication.
While communicating, the foremost thing that you need to ensure is to make the purpose of your message clear. The recipients of your message should clearly know why you are interacting with them. Also, the content of your message must be easy to understand and you can do this by avoiding the use of complex words.
Keeping the length of your message as short as possible is important to communicate effectively. Use of needless and excessive words will not only make your message hard to understand but will also consume more time for the recipient to interpret the information.
Whatever information you want to share needs to be both factually and grammatically correct. Sharing vague information with grammatical errors will disengage your listeners/readers. It is also possible that your message will leave a bad impression on the recipient and your credibility gets affected.
There is no point in sharing information with others that is incomplete and does not include all the important facts and figures. Communicating effectively means that your message should include everything that makes it more credible and useful. Messages with missing information can create misunderstanding and hampers the decision-making process.
Communication needs to be concrete, which simply means that you share information that is genuine and based on facts. Moreover, it is always preferable to use words that better match the context and make the message easy to understand. The concreteness in communication gives a good indication of your confidence while delivering the message and sharing information with others.
For any communication to work, it’s important to have a mutual understanding between the sender and the receiver. While conveying your message, you need to respect your audience and appreciate them for giving their valuable time to listen or read your message. It’s important that you connect with your audience by introducing humor, and let them express their thoughts about the topic under discussion.
The information you share with others should be coherent. It means that all the sections of your message should relate to each other and make sense. Coherence in communication means that you need to structure your message logically and while maintaining consistency of the language, tone, etc. Moreover, it is imperative to curate the content of your message according to the audience so that they are able to understand the information conveniently.
9 Good Communication Skills That You Must Learn
From my experience, it’s not that difficult to develop your communication skills and become a conversationalist. However, the only thing that can hinder you from making progress is the lack of acknowledgement. To make yourself good at communicating with people, you need to keep in mind that you have to put effort to enhance your communication skills.
Now, it’s time to discuss the 9 good communication skills that will help you to excel in your career:
Ideas and thoughts presented with confidence tend to make a better impression on the people with whom you are interacting. Being confident shows your authority on the topic and makes it easy for your audience to trust your abilities.
To show your confidence in conversations, you can do things like maintaining eye contact, keeping a good body posture, and expressing gratitude. Doing all such things will help you connect with your listeners in a better way and leave a lasting impression.
Developing self-confidence is a must if you want to master the art of communication. However, there’s a very thin line between confidence and overconfidence that you never want to cross. It is quite common that people who are too confident while having a conversation, sound more loud and aggressive, consider others’ thoughts to be inferior, prove their point forcefully.
Communication always goes well when you and your audience respect each other. While you are in a conversation, you should respect the ideas and opinions of others and let them speak openly about what’s on their mind.
If you think that you are the only one who should be speaking while communicating, you are entirely wrong. As you might have heard, communication is a two-way process. If you want others to respect your thoughts, you have to respect and listen to theirs also. Forcing your thoughts on others never works in a good way and most commonly results in the failure of the whole communication process.
I strongly believe that being respectful towards your audience is the most important skill to become great at communication. People are always ready to start a conversation and listen to you.
There’s a significant difference between hearing and listening. While hearing means that you are simply receiving sound (in the form of words and sentences), listening means that you first hear and then process the words and sentences to understand their meaning.
As I’ve told earlier, communication is all about sharing and receiving information. You need to be an active listener to understand what others are saying. If you are hearing and not listening, you will not be able to understand the meaning of the message. Consequently, when you communicate with someone and if they find that you are not paying attention to what they are saying, the communication is not going to last long.
To become an active listener, you need to focus on what others are saying and ask questions to make sure that you understand things clearly.
The next important communication skill that you will always need at the workplace is emotional intelligence. It is the ability to control and utilize your emotions to make your message more compelling.
This skill not only allows you to communicate effectively but also helps you to develop cordial relationships and share your feelings with others. Sharing your emotions with others can also help you to relieve stress and stay happy.
Another aspect of being emotionally intelligent is to be able to identify the emotions of others as well. While talking with your employee or colleague, they should feel confident that you will connect with their emotional state and understand them better.
Before you start taking this skill lightly, I just want to make it clear that it’s not easy to understand the emotions of others. So, developing this skill requires both time and patience.
Tone and Volume
The tone and the volume of your voice play a crucial role in setting the right atmosphere for a productive conversation. The tone of your message has a major impact on the impression that it’s going to make on the audience. Generally, a calm and consistent tone of voice is preferred to connect better with your audience.
However, the tone can differ based on the situations. For instance, you need to talk calmly with a customer, whereas you have to make your tone more strict and authoritative when you are delegating important tasks to your team member.
Apart from the tone, the volume or the loudness of your voice also matters a lot. If your voice level is too dull, people will have difficulty in understanding what you’re saying. On the contrary, a loud voice sounds aggressive and tends to annoy the audience.
It’s important that you balance both the tone and volume of your voice to make people more comfortable communicating with you.
Honestly, feedback can be scary sometimes. But it is an essential ingredient for effective communication. Good communicators always take critical feedback in a positive way as it helps them to know the impact of their message or information.
Feedback is the response that you get from the people with whom you communicate. It allows you to know how well your messages are being interpreted by your audience. Additionally, constructive feedback clearly tells you the areas of improvement in your communication abilities.
During a conversation, you need to prompt your listeners to share their thoughts about both the information that you are sharing and the way with which you are communicating your thoughts and ideas. This will let you get useful feedback from the audience and it’ll be easier for you to recognize your strengths and weaknesses in communication.
Also read: Best Design Feedback and Annotation Tools for Designers
Ready to Adapt
It’s simple, you cannot communicate with everyone the same way. It’s important that you choose different communication styles according to your audience. Before communicating with an individual or a group, you should assess what communication style is best suited to them.
Sticking to a single communication style is not going to make you able to communicate effectively with different people. Apart from the style, you also need to be able to use the right mode of communication. For instance, instant messaging and emails are good when you want to share a limited amount of information. However, these modes will not be effective when the information you are willing to share is complex and lengthy. In that case, in-person meetings, audio calls, or video conferencing will be most suited.
Before communicating, it’s crucial that you do a little research to come up with the best communication style and channels for sharing information with different people.
Also Read: 9 Effective Communication Strategies to Connect Better with Your Team
Communication is not only limited to verbal and written forms. Nonverbal communication also offers a great way to communicate your message effectively. Visual cues come handy during communication.
Cues like body language, facial expression, eye contact, etc. can make it easier for your audience to understand the information you present in a better way. You need to focus on non-verbal communication as most of the time your audience notices the visual cues given by you intentionally or unintentionally.
Willing to Use Latest Communication Technologies
Talking in particular about workplace communication, embracing technologies for communicating with your colleagues is a must. Today, most organizations make use of top communication tools, such as chat software, video conferencing software, etc. to help team members stay connected with each other.
The popularity of digital communication is growing rapidly and it’s important for you to be aware of all the trending communication technologies. You should be ready to adopt new ways to communicate and collaborate with your teammates.
Barriers to Effective Communication
Developing good communication skills will likely bring positive results and help you succeed in your professional life. However, mere skills are not enough to ensure that each of your communication sessions proceeds smoothly.
There are always some sort of barriers that hinders the effectiveness of communication. You must be aware of such communication barriers so that it becomes easier for you to identify them and do your best to eliminate them.
Here are the most common communication barriers that you will come across as a professional:
Cultural & Language Difference
This barrier is common in organizations where people from different backgrounds and cultures work together. Also, there are likely to be language differences among people which is likely to widen the communication gap.
The best way to overcome this barrier is to respect the culture of other people and try to find common grounds for making the interaction possible.
Being judgemental is never good when you expect positive results from a conversation. When you judge a person while communicating, you are focusing more on criticizing them and reaching for their weaknesses instead of trying to understand what he/she is saying.
When you are discussing something important with an individual, you need to keep your personal differences aside and give your best to get on the same page. Judging others is only going to derail your communication and it will lead to nothing but a waste of time and energy.
Communication can never be effective if you do not believe in the information that you are sharing. Showing a lack of energy while interacting with someone can put a negative impact on them. Delivering your messages in a dull tone with no variation in facial expressions will disengage the people you are interacting with.
You can eradicate this communication barrier by developing an interest in the information that you want to share. Also, you need to be more confident and ensure that your voice tone doesn’t sound uninspiring.
The physical environment also has a major impact on the effectiveness of communication. Noisy background, bad hearing, speech impairments, etc. can affect the delivery of the information.
While most physical barriers like background noise can be mitigated easily, other issues such as speech impairments, etc. demand special attention.
How can you improve how your organisation communicates?
With 40 years of recruitment experience, we understand the value of good communication. Below, we’ve outlined some of the key areas where organisations can improve and enhance communication between their teams.
- Define goals and expectations – Managers need to deliver clear, achievable goals to both teams and individuals, outlining exactly what is required on any given project, and ensuring that all staff are aware of the objectives of the project, the department and the organisation as a whole.
- Clearly deliver your message – Ensure your message is clear and accessible to your intended audience. To do this it is essential that you speak plainly and politely – getting your message across clearly without causing confusion or offence.
- Choose your medium carefully – Once you’ve created your message you need to ensure it’s delivered in the best possible format. While face-to-face communication is by far the best way to build trust with employees, it is not always an option. Take time to decide whether information delivered in a printed copy would work better than an email or if a general memo will suffice.
- Keep everyone involved – Ensure that lines of communication are kept open at all times. Actively seek and encourage progress reports and project updates. This is particularly important when dealing with remote staff.
- Listen and show empathy – Communication is a two-way process and no company or individual will survive long if it doesn’t listen and encourage dialogue with the other party. Listening shows respect and allows you to learn about any outstanding issues you may need to address as an employer.
To Wrap it Up
Communication is an imperative part of our lives. And when it comes to advancing in your professional career, you need to be good at communication.
I am hoping that I’ve made the significance of communication clear to you along with the skills you need to develop to become a good communicator.
Before you go, do share this class, with your colleagues and friends if you have found it useful.
Good luck with your career!