Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

LEARN ABOUT COMMUNICATION SKILLS

 
 
 
 
The ability to communicate effectively with superiors, colleagues, and staff is essential, no matter what industry you work in. Workers in the digital age must know how to effectively convey and receive messages in person as well as via phone, email, and social media. Good communication skills will help get hired, land promotions, and be a success throughout your career.
 
Top 10 Communication Skills
Want to stand out from the competition? These are the top 10 communication skills that recruiters and hiring managers want to see on your resume and cover letter. Highlight these skills and demonstrate them during job interviews, and you’ll make a solid first impression. Continue to develop these skills once you’re hired, and you’ll impress your boss, teammates, and clients.
  
1. Listening
 
Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. No one likes communicating with someone who only cares about putting in her two cents and does not take the time to listen to the other person. If you're not a good listener, it's going to be hard to comprehend what you're being asked to do.
 
Take the time to practice active listening. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding ("So, what you're saying is…"). Through active listening, you can better understand what the other person is trying to say, and can respond appropriately.
 
 2. Nonverbal Communication
 
Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice all color the message you are trying to convey. A relaxed, open stance (arms open, legs relaxed), and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable and will encourage others to speak openly with you.
 
Eye contact is also important; you want to look the person in the eye to demonstrate that you are focused on the person and the conversation (however, be sure not to stare at the person, which can make him or her uncomfortable).
 
Also, pay attention to other people's nonverbal signals while you are talking. Often, nonverbal signals convey how a person is really feeling. For example, if the person is not looking you in the eye, he or she might be uncomfortable or hiding the truth.
 
3. Clarity and Concision
 
Good verbal communication means saying just enough – don’t talk too much or too little. Try to convey your message in as few words as possible. Say what you want clearly and directly, whether you're speaking to someone in person, on the phone, or via email. If you ramble on, your listener will either tune you out or will be unsure of exactly what you want. Think about what you want to say before you say it; this will help you to avoid talking excessively and/or confusing your audience.
 
4. Friendliness
 
Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage your coworkers to engage in open and honest communication with you. It's important to be nice and polite in all your workplace communications. This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to coworkers and/or employees – a quick "I hope you all had a good weekend" at the start of an email can personalize a message and make the recipient feel more appreciated.
 
5. Confidence
 
It is important to be confident in your interactions with others. Confidence shows your coworkers that you believe in what you’re saying and will follow through. Exuding confidence can be as simple as making eye contact or using a firm but friendly tone. Avoid making statements sound like questions. Of course, be careful not to sound arrogant or aggressive. Be sure you are always listening to and empathizing with the other person.
 
6. Empathy
 
Even when you disagree with an employer, coworker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view. Using phrases as simple as "I understand where you are coming from" demonstrate that you have been listening to the other person and respect their opinions.
 
7. Open-Mindedness
 
A good communicator should enter into any conversation with a flexible, open mind. Be open to listening to and understanding the other person's point of view, rather than simply getting your message across. By being willing to enter into a dialogue, even with people with whom you disagree, you will be able to have more honest, productive conversations.
 
8. Respect
 
People will be more open to communicating with you if you convey respect for them and their ideas. Simple actions like using a person's name, making eye contact, and actively listening when a person speaks will make the person feel appreciated. On the phone, avoid distractions and stay focused on the conversation.
 
Convey respect through email by taking the time to edit your message. If you send a sloppily written, confusing email, the recipient will think you do not respect her enough to think through your communication with her.
 
9. Feedback
 
Being able to appropriately give and receive feedback is an important communication skill. Managers and supervisors should continuously look for ways to provide employees with constructive feedback, be it through email, phone calls, or weekly status updates. Giving feedback involves giving praise as well – something as simple as saying "good job" or "thanks for taking care of that" to an employee can greatly increase motivation.
 
Similarly, you should be able to accept and even encourage, feedback from others. Listen to the feedback you are given, ask clarifying questions if you are unsure of the issue, and make efforts to implement the feedback.
 
10. Picking the Right Medium
 
An important communication skill is to simply know what form of communication to use. For example, some serious conversations (layoffs, changes in salary, etc.) are almost always best done in person.
 
You should also think about the person with whom you wish to speak, if they are a very busy person (such as your boss, perhaps), you might want to convey your message through email. People will appreciate your thoughtful means of communication and will be more likely to respond positively to you.
 

Learn About Active Listening Skills With Examples 

What's active listening, and why is it important for your career? Active listening is the process by which an individual secures information from another individual or group. The “active” element involves taking steps to draw out details that might not otherwise be shared. Active listeners avoid interrupting at all costs, summarize and repeat back what they have heard, and observe body language to give them an extra level of understanding.

Active listening is a helpful skill for any worker to develop. It helps you truly understand what people are saying in conversations and meetings (and not just what you want to hear, or think you hear). During interviews, it can help you build rapport with your interviewer.

Learn more about how to build this skill, along with some examples that demonstrate using active listening.

 

Why Is Active Listening Important?
Like critical thinking and problem-solving, active listening is a soft skill that’s held in high regard by employers. When interviewing for jobs, using active listening techniques can help show the interviewer how your interpersonal skills can draw people out.

Active listening redirects your focus from what is going on inside of your head to the needs of your prospective employer or interviewer. That can help reduce your nervousness during an interview.

By placing your focus, through active listening, squarely upon the interviewer, you prove that you:

a) are interested in the organization’s challenges and successes;

b) are ready to help them problem-solve work issues, and

c) are a team player as opposed to being nothing more than a self-absorbed job candidate.

Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions, ask for clarification if necessary, and wait until the interviewer has finished talking to respond. It’s important to not interrupt, or worse, try to answer the question before you know what the interviewer is asking.

 

Examples of Active Listening Techniques


There are plenty of active listening techniques that will improve the impression you can make at a job interview.

Active listening techniques include:

Building trust and establishing rapport.
Demonstrating concern.
Paraphrasing to show understanding.
Nonverbal cues which show understanding such as nodding, eye contact, and leaning forward.
Brief verbal affirmations like “I see,” “I know,” “Sure,” “Thank you,” or “I understand.”


Asking open-ended questions.


Asking specific questions to seek clarification.
Waiting to disclose your opinion.
Disclosing similar experiences to show understanding.


Examples of Active Listening


It’s often easier to learn by reading examples. Here are some examples of statements and questions employed with active listening:

Building Trust and Establishing Rapport:

“Tell me what I can do to help.”

“I was really impressed to read on your website how you donate five percent of each sale to charity.”


Demonstrating Concern:

“I am eager to help you; I know you are going through some tough challenges.”

“I know how hard a corporate restructuring can be – how is staff morale at this point?” 

Paraphrasing:

“So, you are saying that the uncertainty about who will be your new supervisor is creating stress for you.”

“So, you think that we need to build up our social media marketing efforts.” 

Brief Verbal Affirmation:

“I understand that you would like more frequent feedback about your performance.”

“Thank you. I appreciate your time in speaking to me.”

Asking Open-Ended Questions:

“I can see that John's criticism was very upsetting to you. Which aspect of his critique was most disturbing?”

“It’s clear that the current situation is intolerable for you. What changes would you like to see?”

Asking Specific Questions:

“How long do you expect your hiring process to last?”

“What is your average rate of staff turnover?”

Waiting to Disclose Your Opinion:

“Tell me more about your proposal to reorganize the department.”

“Can you please provide some history for me regarding your relationship with your former business partner?” 

Disclosing Similar Situations:

“I was also very conflicted about returning to work after the birth of my son.”

“I had the responsibility of terminating four of my personnel, due to downsizing, over the last two years. Even if it’s necessary, it never gets easier.” 


By employing these active listening techniques, you will impress your interviewer as a thoughtful, analytical, highly desirable candidate for the position. Think about possible situations that may occur during an interview and come up with strategies to allow you to listen actively.

 

Improving Your Soft Skills


Never underestimate the power of “soft skills” (also known as “people skills”) like active listening, problem-solving, flexibility, self-motivation, leadership, and teamwork. Your CV or resume may look great, but don’t forget to nourish your soft skills.

Especially for young, first-time job candidates with limited work experience, these people skills often are the deciding factor in whether an employer will be willing to take the risk in hiring them over others who may have more experience (but possibly weaker interpersonal communications talents). Don’t forget to highlight your soft skills in your interview (and even in your resume).

•••Credit Alison Doyle