By Elizabeth Rittiman - February 12th, 2015
This is the second in a series on how to make yourself indispensable at work by strengthening your soft skills. Soft skills are attributes that allow you to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people and add value to your role and responsibilities. You don’t often see them listed on a job description, but they’re the skills that separate leaders and help an organization grow.
Effective Communication in the Workplace
In any aspect of your life, communication is key. Think of how many times miscommunication negatively impacted your day, whether with your spouse, kids, friends, or at work. Proper communication ensures everyone is on the same page and things flow a little easier. That’s why you want to make sure you are getting your message across as clearly as possible.
Times When You Need Effective Communication In Your Career
The ability to communicate in a professional manner can take you a long way in your career and in your personal life. You may not even realize how much communication impacts your day to day, but it does. That’s why it is so important that you learn to communicate at work.
Even the aspect of how you communicate with your colleagues needs careful consideration sometimes. For instance, are you using the right medium to communicate? Meaning, should you send an email, call, or stop by their office? Are you communicating too much information? Or not enough information?
Careers Where Effective Communications Strategies are Vital
Careers such as Business Management, Organizational Leadership, Healthcare Administration and Management, Human Resource Management, Project Management and Public Management rely heavily on strong communication skills. These are fields where traits such as the ability to build culture, manage policy, resolve conflict, and maximizing employee performance will take you far. All of which involve being a skilled communicator.
Other more obvious careers requiring skilled communicators are Communications and Marketing. These are fields where it is vital to learn messaging techniques and communication best practices. Clear messaging is very important to any organization’s overall success. You need to master oral and written communication to be an effective communicator for your organization. And it goes beyond writing and speaking.
Tips for Developing your Communication Skills
- Listen: Communication isn’t all just about you doing the talking. A great deal of communication involves you listening to other people. One mistake people make is that when someone else is talking they tend to only be thinking about what they want to say when it’s their turn to talk again, and therefore they are not fully listening to what is being said to them. That’s when key information is missed.
- Pay Attention to What You Are Saying Without Saying It: Here’s another great example as to how communication is not just about talking. A great deal of it is not done verbally. We communicate so much just with the expression on our faces, the gestures we make, and the way that we stand or sit. When interacting with others, always put your best self forward. Make direct eye contact, stand tall or sit up straight, and give firm handshakes.
- Know Your Audience: Have you ever taken notice as to what communication method provides you with the best response? For instance, does your boss not respond to your emails but gives you instant feedback when you stop by her office? Or maybe you have a colleague that takes forever to look at the drafts you email them. Have you thought about printing the materials and giving him a hard copy to look at? Figure out how your coworkers like to receive information, you’ll find things move along more smoothly.
- Remember The Message Sent Isn’t Always The Message Received: Everyone is their own filter, and not everything comes out how we intend it. Many negative situations can arise from making incorrect assumptions, especially in an email or a text message. In these situations, we often find ourselves determining a tone of voice when there is none. Take a step back and ask for clarification face-to-face if you need to so you don’t end up making something out of nothing.
- Get to the Point: Just as you are probably extremely busy with your daily tasks, so are your colleagues. Sometimes a little more background information is needed; other times, it isn’t. Make sure you are concise and clear in what your expectations are in your messaging and you will see a quick turn around in the results. In addition to being direct, keep tips 3 and 4 in mind with this one. Some people might appreciate a little more small talk or respond better with a change in tone.
By mastering these five simple communication strategies you can ensure that you are a key communicator in your office. By listening fully, watching for non-verbal cues and not making assumptions, you will be able to a go a long way to show that you are a reliable, respectable, and indispensable employee. If you’re interested in becoming an expert communicator, check out our Online Bachelor’s in Communication Degree Program.
Elizabeth Rittiman spent the first seven years of her career working in television news. When she moved to Denver with her husband in 2011 she used the opportunity to switch gears in her career to find a role where she could be more of an advocate for the things she was passionate about, education being one of them. When she’s not working, she enjoys skiing and snowshoeing in the Rocky Mountains.