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Improving and showcasing your communication skills can help you advance in your career and stay competitive in today’s job market. Learning about these skills can also help you focus on specific areas of your communication. In this article, we discuss 10 communication skills, discuss ways you can improve them.
Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.
What are communication skills?
Communication skills are abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. While these skills may be a regular part of your day-to-day work life, communicating in a clear, effective and efficient way is an extremely critical and useful skill. Learning from great communicators around you and actively practicing ways to improve your communications over time can certainly support your efforts to achieve various personal and professional goals.
Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathizing. It’s also helpful to understand the differences in how to communicate through face-to-face interactions, phone conversations and digital communications, like email and social media.
Types of communication
There are four main types of communication you might use on a daily basis, including:
Top 10 communication skills
Here are the top communication skills employers and recruiters want to see in your resume and cover letter, interviews and career development:
1. Active listening
Active listening, sometimes called appreciative listening or mindful listening, means paying close attention to who you’re communicating with by engaging with them, asking questions and rephrasing. Practicing active listening can build respect with your colleagues and increase understanding in the workplace. As you actively listen, focus on the speaker and avoid distractions like cell phones and laptops.
Improve your active listening skills by paying attention to other people’s facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Instead of preparing what you plan to say next, focus on what the other person is saying and how they’re speaking. If you want to clarify something, ask follow-up questions or rephrase what they’ve said to confirm that you understood them correctly.
2. Using the right communication method
Using the right way to communicate is an important skill. There are benefits and disadvantages to communicating through emails, letters, phone calls, in-person meetings or instant messages. Communicating is better when you consider your audience, what information you want to share and the best way to share it.
For example, if you’re communicating with a potential employer, it may be better to send a formal email or call them on the phone. In the workplace, you may find it easier to communicate complex information in person or via a video conference than by email. Building remote workplace friendships is easier when you can communicate through instant messages.
Friendly traits like honesty and kindness can help foster trust and understanding when communicating at work. Try to communicate with a positive attitude, keep an open mind and ask questions to help you understand where they’re coming from. Small gestures such as asking someone how they’re doing, smiling as they speak or offering praise for work well done can help you foster productive relationships with colleagues and managers.
You can practice friendliness by remembering small, thoughtful details about your colleagues or past conversations. For example, if a colleague tells you their child’s birthday is soon and you connect with them again later, you might ask them how the birthday party went.
In the workplace, people are more likely to respond to ideas that are presented with confidence. There are many ways to appear confident, including by making eye contact when you’re addressing someone, sitting up straight with your shoulders open and preparing ahead of time so your thoughts are clear and you’re able to answer any questions. Confident communication is useful not just on the job but also during the job interview process. Additionally, to display confidence, avoid adding filler words.
5. Sharing feedback
The key to effective feedback is sharing specific examples of the issue, and the consequences of the issue and asking questions to formulate solutions to the issues. Strong communicators can accept constructive feedback and provide constructive input to others. Feedback can answer questions, provide solutions or help strengthen the project or topic at hand.
Providing and accepting feedback is an essential workplace skill, as it can help both you and the people around you make meaningful improvements to their work and their professional development.
A great way to learn how to give feedback is to take notes from others on the feedback they offer you. When you come across a well-explained piece of feedback, take some time to observe and analyze why it was good, why it resonated with you and how you might apply those skills in the future.
6. Volume and tone
When you’re speaking, be clear and audible. Adjusting your speaking voice so others can hear you in a variety of settings is a skill, and it’s critical to communicating effectively. Speaking too loudly may be disrespectful or awkward in certain settings. If you’re unsure, read the room to see how others are communicating.
Another aspect of verbal communication is vocals and tonality. This involves how your tone moves up and down, your pitch, which words you place emphasis and the pauses you place between phrases. Such details can be effective in communicating emotions and offer your audience insights into how others interpret your message.
Having empathy means that you can not only understand but also share in the emotions of others. This communication skill is important in both team and one-on-one settings. In both cases, you attempt to effectively read and translate other people’s emotions and select an appropriate response.
For example, if someone is expressing anger or frustration, empathy can help you acknowledge and diffuse their emotion. At the same time, being able to understand when someone is feeling positive and enthusiastic can help you get support for your ideas and projects.
A key aspect of respect is knowing when to initiate communication and respond. In a team or group setting, allowing others to speak without interruption is seen as a necessary communication skill tied to respectfulness. Respectfully communicating also means using your time with someone else wisely—staying on topic, asking clear questions and responding fully to any questions they’ve asked you.
9. Nonverbal cues
Some amount of communication happens through nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions and eye contact. When you’re listening to someone, you may choose to attention to what they’re saying and their nonverbal language. It’s essential to not judge others based on their body language, as not all people display the same physical gestures due to cultural or ability differences.
Whether you’re returning a phone call or sending a reply to an email, employers often view fast communicators as more effective than those who are slow to respond. One method is to consider how long your response takes. Is this a request or question you can answer in the next five minutes? If so, it may be a good idea to address it as soon as you see it. If it’s a more complex request or question, you can still acknowledge that you’ve received the message and let the other person know you’re going to respond in full later.
Mastering these communication skills will not only enhance your personal and professional growth but also contribute to the strength and vibrancy of your networking. Effective communication is the cornerstone of a thriving community, and by honing these skills, you’ll help shape a more connected, profesional and supportive BiPM community.
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