Communication is more important than you think.
Have you been told several times to improve your communication skills but are struggling to do it? Maybe you don’t know where to start.
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back (no pun intended).
First of all, let me ask you a question. Is there a particular area of your life in which you feel the lack of good communication skills is causing challenges?
Or perhaps, you want to improve these soft skills so that you can excel at work and be a more presentable employee? If so, great!
You are now aware of the importance of communication in your life – something many people fail to see.
The good news is that this doesn’t mean that you have reached the ‘end of the road’ as far as improving your communication skills is concerned. It simply means that now is the time when you should start making small changes to your approach to communication.
That being said, let’s take a look at what makes up good communication skills and how we can make them better.
Table of Contents
- What Are Good Communication Skills?
- Top 11 Good Communication Skills That Will Help You Stand Out at Workplace
- What is the Importance of Communication Skills?
- What are the 7C’s of Communication?
- Barriers to Effective Communication
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.
Top 11 Good Communication Skills That Will Help You Stand Out at Workplace
1. Active Listening
Effective communication isn’t about talking; it’s about listening. You can be the most interesting person in the world, but if you don’t know how to listen, you’ll never build a connection with anyone else.
By listening, I don’t mean simply waiting your turn to speak. I mean practicing active listening — paying close attention to what the other person is saying and asking questions that show you’re engaged with their story. It’s not easy to do when you’re excited about talking about yourself, but it works.
When you ask the right questions and engage the other person in conversation, they’ll remember the experience of talking with you — and they’ll want to talk to you again. They may even become so invested in the conversation that they forget all about your original purpose for reaching out.
2. Being Assertive
Assertiveness is the ability to clearly state your opinion, needs and wants in a way that respects the rights of other people. It’s a skill that can be learned (with practice) and it’s worth learning — being assertive can get you what you want without damaging your relationships.
When we’re feeling frustrated by someone else’s behavior, our first instinct might be to shout, avoid them, or even give them the silent treatment. These strategies may feel satisfying at first, but they don’t solve anything — and they can make the other person feel angry or hurt in return. As a result, everyone ends up upset and nothing gets resolved.
When it comes to being assertive in business, there’s a fine line between being confident or aggressive. Confidence is when you’re willing and able to state your opinion without fear of repercussions. Aggressive communication is when you steamroll over everyone else so that your opinion can be heard.
Being assertive is about having a good balance of confidence and humility. It’s about being comfortable with yourself and your place in the world. And it’s something that can help you get ahead in business.
People remember stories — but not facts, figures or piles of data. That’s why telling a story is one of the best ways to win over an audience and get your message across. It helps people relate to what you’re saying and see how it applies to their own lives.
If you want to persuade people of something, tell them a story about how someone else overcame a similar problem. If you want to inspire them, tell them a story about how you did something great. If you want to get people excited about something, tell them a story about what it will be like when they’re finished with it.
The best way to make a case for yourself is through storytelling — not bragging, but sharing the story of your accomplishments in a way that inspires others. In a job interview, for example, you can share stories about your previous success and explain how you will apply those skills in your new role.
4. Writing Down Your Thoughts
You might think that the person who gets ahead at work is the person who knows it all, or who works the hardest. But that isn’t necessarily true. The person who gets ahead is usually the one who can get along best with others.
A good way to develop your written communication skills is to keep a journal, in which you write down your thoughts and feelings. Not only will this help you to clarify your thoughts, but it will also enable you to put them into words.
Keeping a journal teaches you how to express yourself through writing and how to organize your thoughts in a logical way. Writing daily for five or ten minutes will build up your skills, and soon you’ll be able to express clearly with an open mind.
5. Know When To Vent And When To Wait
You know that whole “you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression” thing? That’s probably the most important piece of advice you can ever receive.
But it doesn’t end with your first impression. Every word you say and every action you take can either help your career or hurt it. You get to decide which way the pendulum swings by remembering that:
No one is perfect. You are not perfect, and neither are your coworkers, boss and clients. They will have good days and bad days. And so will you. But when things go wrong, remember to simply keep calm and carry on. Wait until the heat of your anger or frustration passes before you do or say anything that could be interpreted the wrong way (or just plain wrong).
You should vent — but only when it’s appropriate to do so. Venting has its place in the workplace, but it should be done with discretion. Save it for a trusted associate who is going through something similar, or in an open-door meeting with a manager who is receptive to hearing what’s really going on at work — even if he or she is not directly involved in the issue at hand.
You don’t need to be an expert communicator to know that venting in the wrong way or at the wrong time is a recipe for disaster. For example, while you’re upset after someone has done something you don’t like doesn’t mean you should storm into his office and let him have it. Instead, take a step back and cool off before confronting him — especially if you’re angry and emotional.
6. Asking Questions
It’s easy to make a bad impression when you’re talking to someone. You may not be aware of it, but you might be communicating in ways that come across as abrasive and condescending.
When you’re meeting with someone new, the most effective way to get things done is to ask questions.
Salespeople are trained to use questions as a selling tool: They know that asking open-ended questions plants the seed for a purchase, which makes it easier for them to close the deal. But even when you’re just trying to understand what’s going on, a good question can go a long way toward making the other person feel more comfortable and less threatened.
7. Use Humor appropriate and effectively
Humor is a tricky thing and can get you in trouble if you don’t use it right. However, when you do use humor appropriately, it can be the most powerful tool in your communication arsenal.
Humor breaks down barriers, reduces stress and tension, and builds rapport between people.
Humor can be a great way to get attention, keep attention, and make people like you.
The other great thing about humor is that it’s one of the few ways to show your personality at work without being cliche or unprofessional. Humor is also a rare tool that lets you emphasize a point without sounding overly aggressive or arrogant.
Use self-deprecating humor. When you poke fun at yourself, it establishes a connection with others and helps them feel comfortable around you. Don’t take yourself too seriously; if you do, your audience probably will too.
Use it to calm tense situations. Humor can help diffuse difficult or awkward circumstances. For example, if your boss calls you into their office for a meeting, and you’re pretty sure they’ll have something critical to say, try starting off with something like “I know this isn’t going to be good news.” It immediately breaks the tension and puts both of you on more equal footing.
Stay positive. There’s nothing wrong with poking fun at yourself or your company as long as it doesn’t undermine trust or send negative messages about the quality of your work product. Make sure that your humor is positive — not sarcastic or condescending.
8. Non-Verbal Communication
Once you recognize that face to face communication is so much more than words on a page (or screen), you’ll realize that getting your message across means being in tune with many different channels of communication.
“In fact, only 7 percent of our communication is verbal,” says Kevin Kermes, director of communications for the National Institute for Healthcare Management. “The rest is non-verbal.”
When you are communicating with someone, be it in a meeting or on the phone, pay attention to their body language. Are they leaning forward or backward? Are they making eye contact or looking away? This can give you some insight into how well your message is being received and whether you need to make some adjustments.
Communicating with people in an open manner, rather than with crossed arms or a scowl on your face, will help you get ahead. It’s difficult to convince someone of something if they feel you’re being closed off or untrustworthy.
You may also find yourself in a meeting with people who don’t speak English as their primary language; communicating with these people nonverbally can help you get your point across.
Also read: A Guide to Sharpening Your Nonverbal Communication Skills
9. Empathy and compassion
Whether you’re trying to work with a difficult client, a passive-aggressive co-worker, or your best friend who’s going through a rough time, it helps to know how to communicate effectively with other people.
Being able to understand other people’s perspectives and approach problems from their point of view is an important part of communicating well. Empathy is the key.
Empathy — or the ability to understand and share someone else’s emotions — is really important in communication. If you can’t see things from someone else’s perspective, it’s hard to relate to them or help them solve problems. That’s why having good communication skills is so important. It helps us in both our personal relationships and our professional life.
When we’re communicating with people, empathy makes us better at listening and understanding what the person we’re talking with is trying to say. This can make us more open-minded and willing to consider others’ opinions, even if they differ from our own.
Ultimately, having empathy leads to more positive outcomes because it shows that you care about the other person and what they have to say
10. Inclusive Language
Don’t assume that everyone understands industry jargon or abbreviations, or even the context of what you’re saying. If you’re talking to a group, don’t assume that everyone shares common ground.
You may have heard the term “diversity” used in many contexts in business, but it’s not just about gender or race; it also applies to age, experience, education, cultural differences and so on. It’s important to be mindful of these differences when communicating.
You can avoid alienating people by using inclusive language — language that doesn’t assume too much background knowledge, and which doesn’t make assumptions based on gender or other factors. For example: “It is a fact that” instead of “Everyone knows that”; “salesperson” instead of “salesman”; “chairperson” instead of “chairman.”
Another benefit of using inclusive language is that it can help foster a more creative workplace. When people feel included, they feel like their opinions matter too. This means that everyone will be more likely to share their ideas and opinions without fear of judgement or discrimination.
11. 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.
Also Read: 9 Effective Communication Strategies to Connect Better with Your Team
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:
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.
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.
- Judging Others
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.
- Lack of Enthusiasm
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.
- Physical Barriers
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.
It’s clear that good communication skills are important in a job. They can help you do your work more effectively, and they can help you work well with your coworkers. As you go through your career and start making a name for yourself, people will pay attention to the way you speak.
If you’re poised and professional, they’ll like that. If you’re nervous or unclear, they won’t. It’s that simple. So, as we mentioned above, working on this is essential if you want to get ahead in your career. Without good communication skills, it’s very difficult to succeed professionally—no matter what area of work you’re in.
“Stop wasting time on clunky communication methods and start using these intuitive team communication tools.”