Here are the top 10 communication skills that will help you stand out in today’s job market.
Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important communication skill. Managers and supervisors should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, be it through email, phone calls, or weekly status updates. Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying “good job” to an employee can greatly increase motivation. Similarly, you should be able to accept, and even encourage, feedback from others.
- 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.
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 telling others suggestions and does not take the time to listen to the other person. Instead, 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. Through active listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond fittingly.
Be open to listening to and understanding the other person’s point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. A good communicator should enter any conversation with a flexible, open mind. 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.
- 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.
Similarly, pay attention to other people’s nonverbal signals while you are talking. Often, nonverbal signals convey how a person is really feeling.
- Clarity and briefness
Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you are speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you roam 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.
Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage your co-workers to engage in open and honest communication with you. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to co-workers and/or employees – a quick “I hope you all had a good weekend” at the start of an email can personalize a message and 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. Of course, be careful not to sound arrogant or aggressive. Be sure you are always listening to and empathizing with the other person.
Even when you disagree with an employer, co-worker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view. Using phrases as simple as “I understand where you are coming from” demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.
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 edit your message. If you send a sloppily written, confusing email, the recipient will think you do not respect her enough to think through your communication with her.