Our lives are about communicating; be it to convey information via the written word or feelings via body language, or even to communicating emotions through art and music. We rely on communication on all its levels to navigate our lives yet we rarely consider it a skill that we can cultivate. Yet truly taking the time to develop good communication skills can benefit you in all aspects of your life, especially professionally. In addition to the ‘hard skills’ you gain during vocational training, employers also look for so called ‘soft skills’ such as writing, organisation and communication skills. In fact, communication skills were recent ranked the second most desired ‘soft skill’ by employers. Although these skills do not come naturally to all of us, the great thing about ‘soft skills’ is that they can be learnt just as ‘hard skills’ are. Taking the time to foster skills in the ability to communicate effectively and you could find yourself excelling in both your personal and professional life. To get you started, here are 5 key skills that can help you to become a better communicator:
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1: Be concise and direct
Your audience often doesn’t need all of the details in order to understand the message you are trying to communicate, and including them can often obscure your central message. Often, the simplest version is sufficient, and if more details are required then they can be requested. Being succinct will help you to become a better communicator by eliminating time spent on unnecessary discussions allowing you to spend more time on other matters.
2: Select the appropriate method of communication
In a professional setting where multiple means of communication are used; phone, email, meetings etc different methods are appropriate for different tasks. An email, for example, can be more useful for conveying the same simple message to many people at the same time. Ideally this would also be used when any discussion can be solved simply. When the message is more complicated, or will require considerable discussion but needs to be amongst many people, a meeting is more appropriate. Choosing your communication method badly can be often be tedious and inefficient, whereas good skills will lead to increased productivity and satisfaction within the workplace.
Communication is not just about what you do, it’s also about what you don’t do. Listening to people during face-to-face conversation, both in what they say and how they say it is important to resolving matters as efficiently as possible and avoiding unwarranted disagreements.
4: Be assertive
Clearly expressing your views or ideas is a key communication skill by promoting confidence and decision-making, thus increasing employee satisfaction within the workplace. Importantly though, assertive is more about honesty and being able to calmly expressing opinions in a respectful manner rather than being demanding or aggressive.
5: Staying calm under pressure
Emotions can easily cloud judgement which will hinder good communication. A good communicator will be skilled in keeping their emotions from affecting their ability to express their intentions clearly. In stressful situations they may be careful to take the time to think before delivering a verbal or written message, or may use tactics to stall conversation to give themselves time to collect their thoughts.