Why are communication skills important? And how can it be improved?

Why are communication skills important?

You need good communication skills no matter what profession you have or what industry you work in. These are the abilities, attributes, and knowledge that enable you to deliver and receive information. Your communication skills are essential, whether you’re phoning potential customers, meeting with clients, emailing your boss, drafting a press release, conversing with coworkers, or doing anything else that requires you to express or receive information.

Strong communication allows members of your team or company to collaborate effectively and achieve their objectives. It’s crucial to remember that organisations are, at their core, a group of people working together and making decisions with the objective of achieving a common mission. A firm that advises firms on decision-making and organisational culture. “Without communication, people may not comprehend each other or their organization’s goals.” Even if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to communicate with clients or consumers in order to achieve your business objectives!

The bottom line is that good communication ensures that expectations are clear, points of view are heard, people feel valued, and relationships and work performance remain healthy.

Read on to learn about the many types of communication and the eight most important communication skills for the workplace, as well as how to develop your communication abilities and demonstrate them in your next job search.

Why are communication skills important and what are the most common communication styles?

Here are the four most prevalent types of communication that you’ll encounter at work:

  • The words you speak and hear from others are referred to as verbal communication. It occurs largely in person, over the phone, or via video chat. To put it another way, it’s talking and listening. (Hint: listening is frequently the most crucial!)
  • Everything from what our body language and vocal tone imply to how we place ourselves in space relative to our discussion partner to how we dress or otherwise present ourselves falls under the umbrella of nonverbal communication.
  • The delivery of information by text is known as “written communication.” This article, like your emails, texts, and Slack chats; the copy on a social media post; and comments on a Google Doc, project management software, or computer code, are all forms of textual communication. Writing abilities are essential for success in the workplace, regardless of your profession.
  • The use of photographs, tables, graphs, and other graphics to express information is known as visual communication. Visual communication occurs when you need to give a PowerPoint presentation or develop a data visualisation.

You almost certainly use all four of these modes of communication, but depending on your profession, you may rely on one or more of them more than others.

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Communication Defined and 7 Important Workplace Communication Skills

communication skills
Why are communication skills important? And how can it be improved? 4

Here are seven communication skills you may use in the workplace across many platforms to guarantee that you are understood and that others understand you.

1. Listening Actively

Active listening entails retaining the content of what you’re being told, determining the speaker’s goal, and gaining a sense of the person you’re listening to feelings and emotions, which can assist you in gathering information, reducing miscommunications, forming relationships, and collaborating effectively with others.

“You are fully present” while practising active listening. And your “attention is drawn to the other individual.” You’re paying attention to their tone, body language, and any other indications in addition to their words. You’re not practising active listening if you’re just waiting for your turn to speak or listening to receive what you think you need from a conversation.

Make eye contact with the person speaking, turn toward them, and nod and react with appropriate facial gestures to actively listen. You should also pay attention to what the individual is saying: take notes, ask questions, reiterate their words, and give answers or suggestions. However, do these things in a genuine way. Active listening has the potential to be amazing or robotic and frustrating. Everyone has contacted customer service and been exposed to someone repeating back what you just said.

When speaking with others, active listening is most important, but you can apply comparable tactics when responding to written or visual communication. Consider this: What is the communicator’s intention? What can you infer about their emotions or feelings? You should also answer in the same way: To learn more, ask smart questions, repeat their intent to ensure you understand, and reply properly.

2. Clarity

There are two aspects to communication clarity: when communicating, you must first determine what you want to achieve for yourself and then ensure that those goals are effectively communicated to your audience.

Clarity can be gained by defining your takeaways during the planning stages of your communication opportunities, and you need to know why communication skills are important. The duration and formality of a planning stage vary greatly depending on the situation—for a major presentation, it could take days or weeks and include formal meetings and brainstorming sessions, whereas for a quick message to a coworker, it could take minutes or less. Take a breath before speaking, typing, or doing anything else: What do you want the recipient of your message to take away from it? Do you want to keep them up to speed on a current project, for example? Do you want to ask them to do something for you? How to resolve a disagreement or misunderstanding? Tell them they did a fantastic job?

Once you’ve established your aim, make sure it’s reflected in your communication. Do you state your message’s essential points directly or do you dance around them? Is the information and context necessary for the recipient of your communication to grasp what you’re saying? Is it possible that you’re providing too little or too much information? Clarity is especially important when making a request: “We need to make sure we express clearly what is required, what success looks like, when… something [must be] completed, and what priority [it requires]. If you’re not sure if your message was received correctly, you can always double-check by asking.

Many of the abilities on this list, such as audience awareness and communication approach, must be strengthened in order to be clear in every setting.

3. Target Audience Understanding

Audience awareness refers to keeping the recipient(s) of your message in mind as you plan and deliver it.It’s easier to ensure that you’re understood and achieve your goal if you tailor your communication to the individual audience. If you were presenting a problem with your team’s day-to-day work to your boss, for example, you’d probably have to provide less background and could use industry, company, and team lingo without defining it. If you’re trying to communicate the same problem to corporate leadership or an external stakeholder, though, you may need to rephrase it, according to Vinod.

Consider where someone is coming from whenever you communicate with them, regardless of the medium. Here are some audience-related questions to consider:

  • What do they know about the subject you’re discussing?
  • What is their level of investment in the situation? (For example, an accounting colleague might be more concerned with how much money a new project will cost or bring in, whereas a marketing colleague might be more concerned with how it will be communicated to customers.)
  • Based on your previous experiences, do you know how your audience best consumes information? (Do they grasp concepts and ideas in “bigger picture” concepts and ideas when provided examples, or do they think in “smaller picture” concepts and ideas? Do they benefit from visual aids?
  • Will they be able to comprehend the language you use?
  • Why is it important for them to hear what you have to say?

Then, plan your communication with your audience in mind and evaluate their reactions live in the moment so you can change if necessary.

4. Communication Style and Tone of Voice

This ability is all about determining the most appropriate mode of communication for a certain context, which can make a big difference in how well your message is heard and understood. Why are communication skills important? Consider the broad categories of verbal, written, and visual communication above, as well as the more particular ways you might use them within those categories. It may be better to explain something verbally, but should it be in a casual discussion or a professional meeting?

You must consider the following factors when deciding on the best communication method:

  • Consider your target audience:  You might be able to send a quick Slack message to a close coworker, but you’d rather compose a professional email to someone in your company’s leadership or pick up the phone and contact an outside customer.
  • Consider the most appropriate Media for this message: What is the simplest way to clearly explain your message? For example, you might use email to describe a situation that requires several paragraphs of background information, a one-on-one meeting with a colleague to discuss a challenging topic, or a presentation to give the results of some A/B tests you conducted.
  • Be aware of any differences in how each person processes or communicates information:  For instance, The Definitive Guide to Building More Inclusive, Innovative, and Productive Teams, for instance, suggests looking into accessible communication solutions like video meeting software with close captioning if any team members are deaf or hard of hearing (HoH). Don’t place all of the “responsibility for successful communication” on the affected person because “the onus for excellent communication is always on both sides.”
  • Consider your tastes and skills: Don’t forget to consider yourself! Do you struggle to express intricate concepts in writing? Do you excel at analysing data visually? Being a woman or belonging to another minority group may make it challenging for you to be heard at work. What is the most effective means of communication for spreading your message in a way that is convenient for you? An email or written proposal might be the best way to communicate if you’re frequently cut off in meetings. A meeting with a predetermined agenda can be your best option if you’re concerned that the people you’re speaking with won’t read what you’ve written.

You should also adapt your tone to the content of your message. Is this a serious problem or a chance encounter with someone you don’t know? Maintain a more formal tone. Is there anything you don’t want the other person to worry about? Use a light, conversational tone.

When in doubt regarding workplace tone, err on the side of professionalism and formality. “Use whole sentences and proper capitalization and punctuation. Despite the fact that the majority of people understand “text speak,” it may transmit the wrong message. If you want to be viewed as a professional, communicate like one. “Treat everyone with respect, regardless of your personal tastes.”

5. Emotional Intelligence and Empathy

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognise and respond to emotions, both your own and others’, in a given scenario. This frequently entails empathising with others in the job. EQ can aid in the development of healthier relationships, the avoidance and resolution of conflict, and the promotion of a healthy and productive work environment.

Take the time to examine your own emotional condition if you want to employ emotional intelligence in your job interactions. You have to be aware. Why are communication skills important? Did a coworker forget to submit a piece of code for a website redesign? Recognize if you’re upset or annoyed because it messed up your day, and think about how those feelings are coming over in your conversation.

Consider where the other person may be emotionally, or simply ask them. “If anything seems unexpected or out of character, it could be due to something unrelated to work.  Before focusing on the work component, take the time to grasp and appreciate the bigger picture. Remember that the people you work with are individuals, even if you only know them professionally.

In addition, “choose moments for uncomfortable dialogues with sensitivity.” Consider this: If your manager knew you were juggling a variety of competing deadlines, how would you feel if they selected that time to tell you you weren’t getting a raise this year?

6. The Capability to Accept and Provide Constructive Criticism

You’ll need to comment on others’ work at some point in order to help them develop and assure quality results for your firm or team—and you’ll need to hear and act on comparable feedback as well. Vinod claims that constructive feedback is an “essential aspect of organisational growth” that can help you establish professional relationships. You have to know why communication skills are important, cooperate effectively with others, grow professionally, contribute to the professional development of your colleagues, and ensure excellent work.

When delivering constructive feedback to someone, whether it’s about a specific piece of work or something more general like a talent or work style, Satish says, “It should be concise, action-oriented, and example-driven.” For example, you should never just state that a design on which you collaborated is “poor” or “sloppy.” Instead, concentrate on particular areas where they can improve and provide context with examples. Also, keep in mind that comments should never be used to belittle or condemn someone’s personality.

Instead of saying things like, “You’re careless,” or “This is difficult to understand,” try something like, “I noticed that you have a tendency to overlook some minor details.”On the third slide of yesterday’s presentation, you used Q2 figures instead of Q3 numbers, and you may have committed a math error on the eighth slide. I believe you might benefit from slowing down and double-checking your work before submitting it. “

Refrain from being defensive after getting feedback. Make sure you comprehend not only what the other person is saying, but also why they’re saying it and how they might feel about it, by using your active listening skills and emotional intelligence. Is this design “too busy,” for example, or do you have a habit of using too many aspects in your work? This does not imply that you must accept all proposals without inquiry; rather, it means that you should think about them.

7. Understanding of Body Language

Nonverbal communication includes a lot of body language. It includes your stance, posture, facial expressions, and motions, among other nonverbal cues, as well as how you hold and express yourself while speaking and listening. There are four situations in which you should be conscious of body language:

  • When others are listening, their body language is as follows: Gaurav adds that reading the listener’s body language is a vital talent to master, especially when you’re the one speaking. You should be aware why communication skills are important. “Observing their facial expressions, posture, and even gestures can all reveal information about the direction the conversation or presentation should take.” Is it clear that your audience is paying attention? Do they appear perplexed or uninterested?
  • Other people’s body language when they’re speaking: When someone tells you about an idea, a project, or an issue that has arisen, you may learn a lot from their body language. What value does a person’s delivery offer to their message?
  • When you’re listening, your body language: “Your face and body language can speak louder than your words.” When words and phrases disagree, the expressions take precedence. Make sure they complement one another and are courteous to one another. ” You don’t want the person speaking to you to assume you’re annoyed with them because you’re frowning as they speak, for example.

When you’re speaking, your body language should be:

Are you smiling and speaking in a relaxed manner? What you’re saying will most likely be interpreted positively by the individual you’re conversing with. Are you slouching down or gazing away from them? They might believe you’re frightened, indifferent, or dishonest. Meanwhile, “fidgeting can make you appear uncomfortable or insecure,” says the author.

Body language is equally vital for making people feel at ease around you. “It is critical to maintain eye contact in order to establish trust.” Newton explains that if you’re not sure what body language to use in a specific situation, “a little psychological trick is that if you replicate someone’s body language, the connection tends to form faster.”

In certain circumstances, the issues are more than just about convenience and connection. If you’re a male speaking to a woman, for example, standing too close to her may make her feel intimidated, as women have different safety concerns than men. In general, in business settings, you should always ensure that your coworkers have personal space.

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Why are communication skills important? What methods do you use to improve?

Why are communication skills important?

You don’t have to be a public speaker to develop your communication skills. You may improve your communication skills in any area by putting in some effort. Here are some pointers:

  • Determine the abilities you want to improve. Even though you wish to enhance your communication abilities in general, focusing on one at a time will make it easier. So decide where you want to begin. For example, if you want to improve your writing clarity and confidence while presenting but you rarely give presentations, start with writing clarity. If you’re not sure which talents you need to improve, gather feedback from the people you interact with on a regular basis, both at work and at home.
  • Make a request for assistance. Consider enrolling in a class or hiring a coach. You might be able to find a free or paid online course to help you improve a specific ability. Alternatively, you may work with a communication coach. You can, for example, book a session on The Muse’s Coach Connect service that focuses on specific communication circumstances like interviewing, networking, or negotiating.
  • Learn about the barriers to communication that others face. You should take the time to learn about the communication challenges that others have, especially if you are in a position of relative privilege, and how you can be a powerful ally to people with disabilities and people of various colours and genders. Learn how to speak in a way that promotes equality by using gender-inclusive terminology. It is not the responsibility of people from low-income backgrounds to teach you how to be inclusive or to modify who they are to fit the status quo.
  • It’s all about practise. Practice is essential for any communication skill you want to improve. Take advantage of opportunities to practise outside of work, such as in networking organisations dedicated to this goal or with friends who are willing to assist. Allow yourself some leeway as you learn, but if you make a mistake that offends or disrespects someone, apologise and learn from your mistakes (without dwelling on your apology or making it about you).

In a job search, how can you demonstrate your communication abilities?

Employers seek people that are good communicators. How can you persuade them that you are the right person for the job?

Determine which communication skills are most important for the job.

Why are communication skills important? What sorts of communication will be most common in the position you’re applying for? Examine the job description for any responsibilities that involve writing, reading, presenting, collaborating, managing, or communicating with others in any way. Look at the company’s website or, if they have one, their Muse profile to see how they describe themselves. Does the company place a premium on concepts such as collaboration and teamwork?

Incorporate communication skills into your materials for applications.

Mention your vital communication abilities for this job immediately on your resume while creating your application. If you want to highlight a hard skill, such as specialist writing or technology, incorporate it into strong resume bullet points, include it in your skills section, and/or mention it in a resume summary if it’s critical to the position.

Give instances of times you’ve used soft communication skills well to the person reading your application for soft communication skills. In a cover letter, you can expound on how you cooperated, managed, offered feedback, and achieved results in brief, quantitative bullet points.

Last but not least, remember that your resume and cover letter are both demonstrations of your communication abilities. As a result, make sure they’re well-written and arranged and that the information you’re trying to convey is obvious. This is especially true for professions that require a lot of writing. You can also provide work examples by linking to a portfolio or personal website where you keep your writing, designs, or other communications.

Show Your Skills in Action During Interviews

Interviews, whether in person, on the phone, or by video, are excellent occasions to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively both verbally and nonverbally. Listen intently throughout the interview, speak clearly and succinctly, be mindful of your own and the interviewer’s body language, and display emotional intelligence. Remember that interviews are discussions, so ask the interviewer follow-up questions and maintain a friendly and upbeat demeanour.

Throughout the process, communicate effectively.

Every interaction with a potential employer is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively, so take advantage of it! If a firm sees your social media accounts, especially on LinkedIn, communicate plainly. Respond to emails and phone calls in a professional manner and inform them of any issues that arise on your end that may affect them. If your present employment requires a last-minute meeting on the day of your video interview, for example, email your interviewer as soon as you know you’ll be late. Make sure to provide any requested information in a clear and timely manner, and write thank-you cards to anyone that interviews you.

 

 

Ruchi Rana
Author: Ruchi Rana

Careers, development, Interview, news, Work