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13 communication skills that will advance your career and make life easier
The value of communication skills in the workplace can’t be understated. Whether you’re an entry-level employee or a senior manager, being able to communicate effectively is essential.
Clear communication skills will help you land the roles you want, secure promotions, and take your career in the right direction.
1. Clarity and conciseness
Being clear and concise is the crux of strong communication skills in the workplace. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, it’s crucial to be able to explain and elaborate on concepts effectively. Most often, clarity means being able to say just enough to communicate your ideas without talking excessively or confusing the subject. Say what you want to directly, whether you’re speaking in person, via email, or over the phone.
2. The ability to listen
Nobody wants to work with someone who talks but doesn’t listen. Being a good listener is essential to learning new skills and concepts, as well as being successful at what you do. If you’re prone to talking a lot, take the time to practise active listening – paying close attention to what the other person is saying and making sure you comprehend the message before responding.
Confidence doesn’t equate to showiness or arrogance, but instead shows that you have conviction in your ideas and what you’re saying. Showing confidence is often a learned communication strength, so engage with others and practise your approach until you not only sound confident, but feel confident too.
4. Open body language
Non-verbal communication is at the top of the list of business communication skills but it’s often overlook. Eye contact, hand gestures, stance and so on all have a big impact on how people perceive your message, so focus on maintaining open – but not aggressive – body language at work.
Uncomfortable or sensitive conversations are likely to happen at one point or another in any job, and it’s important to approach these conversations with tactfulness when they do. Emotional intelligence is especially important when there’s a period of workplace disruption happening, such as redundancies or major organisational shifts.
Asking questions shows that you’re genuinely curious about people and projects in the workplace. Curiosity is also one of the best ways to learn, so it’s beneficial for acquiring new skills and getting ahead in your career. Aim to ask open-ended questions (what, how, why etc.) to keep the dialogue flowing.
It’s important to understand and respect colleagues’ and managers’ opinions, even if you don’t agree with them. Seeing a challenge or situation from other people’s perspectives also puts you in a good position to make a fair and reasonable assessment and shows you’re a considerate person.
Strong communicators not only know how to get their message across confidently and clearly, but also enter a conversation with an open mind. That means being willing to change your point of view or come up with a productive solution based on other people’s input – not just your own.
9. Tone of voice
Your tone of voice can set the whole mood of a conversation. Keep the volume of your voice at a reasonable level and remain calm even if you have a difference of opinion to the person you’re speaking to. Staying level-headed in tense or difficult situations is key to good professional conduct.
While negotiating is in a whole league of its own, it’s still an essential communication skill to doing your job well. Whether it’s negotiating a deadline, the scope of a project, or negotiating salary in an interview, being able to compromise and persuade is a valuable communication tool.
Creating positive team cohesion and a productive work environment comes down to making sure employees feel encouraged and supported. Use your words to provide positive reinforcement for a job well done from peers or from employees who report to you.
12. Asking for and providing feedback
Being able to give constructive feedback is one of the most important communication skills, as is actively encouraging feedback from others. In both cases, have an open and honest discussion, and make a plan for implementing feedback so it’s genuinely useful.
Above all, people want to work with others they feel comfortable talking to. While there’s no expectation that every co-worker has to be a best friend, being polite and cordial can go a long way to building a solid professional reputation.
What other skills are important in any workplace? Find out at our career advice hub.