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Mastery Mondays

Communication Skills

The Communication Skills That Actually Matter

When you're applying for a job, you usually think about promoting your hard skills as much as possible. Years of experience, technical qualifications, and credits you can prove. But while those things are certainly valuable, they may not be rare. Standing out from the pack is easily achieved by emphasizing your soft skills.

Things like flexibility, dedication, and communication abilities are powerful benefits to employers. Communication skills in particular are highly in demand, but the word itself can feel vague and ambiguous on a resume. 

If you want your employer to know that you're a good communicator -- and if you want to be one, work on developing skills like open-mindedness. Can you have productive conversations with all kinds of people, even those you disagree with? Are you open to new ideas and unconvential thoughts? 

Make sure you're friendly to everyone you cross paths with. Kindness can't be overrated, and helps you appear reliable and confident. 

Be clear and intentional with your words. Don't waste anyone's time, but don't be afraid to speak up. Think through your ideas, share with others, and use your voice. 

Most companies are paying for your thoughts as well as your work. A good employer will value your perspective and contributions in every area, so make sure you're ready to participate. 

Communication skills will serve you well in every area of life. We all start somewhere, so if this doesn't come naturally, don't panic -- but know that it's important to develop. More productive relationships, higher quality conversations, and a more enthusiastic work environment all come to someone who can relate well to others.

Whether you're applying for a new position, or entering a new season in life, make growing healthy communication a priority in your life right now. 

Recommended Book

Communication Skills

Jul 11, 2015
ISBN: 9781515031918

Interesting Fact #1

Confusion and frustration are typically why an employer will lose good employees first.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #2

Almost 3/4 of employers want employees with strong written communication skills.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #3

Oral communication skills, listening ability, and adaptability are the 3 most desirable qualities in a job candidate.

SOURCE

Quote of the day

Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.

- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Article of the day - Communication Skills for Workplace Success

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.

Top 10 Communication Skills 

Want to stand out from the competition? These are some of the top communication skills that recruiters and hiring managers want to see in 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.

These communication skills will help you get hired, land promotions, and be a success throughout your career.

1. Listening 

Being a good listener is one of the best ways to be a good communicator. No one likes communicating with someone who cares only 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 them 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 cues 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 or confusing your audience.

4. Friendliness 

Through a friendly tone, a personal question, or simply a smile, you will encourage your co-workers to engage in open and honest communication with you. It's important to be polite in all your workplace communications.

This is important in both face-to-face and written communication. When you can, personalize your emails to co-workers 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 co-workers 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 

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. Active listening can help you tune in to what your conversational partner is thinking and feeling, which will, in turn, make it easier to display empathy.

Even when you disagree with an employer, co-worker, or employee, it is important for you to understand and respect their point of view.

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 that you do not respect her enough to think through your communication with her.

9. Feedback 

Being able to give and receive feedback appropriately 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, resignation, 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.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out 

1. Match your skills to the job. Analyze the job listing, paying special attention to the hard and soft skills that are highlighted in the job description. Then, personalize your resume and cover letter to match their requirements.

2. Familiarize yourself with other in-demand skills. Soft skills like communication may not get a direct nod in a job description, but they’re still highly desired by hiring managers.

3. Use job interviews to your advantage. Job interviews provide an opportunity to show the hiring manager that you have the verbal communication skills necessary to succeed in a job, rather than just telling them that you do. Prepare for your interview, practice beforehand, and don’t be afraid to pause before answering their questions – or to ask for clarification if you need it. 

4. Don’t stop when you get the job. Want to make a lasting impression on your colleagues after you’re hired? Use your communication skills at work. Whether it's participating in a company meeting or talking with a client, you'll have many opportunities to show how well you communicate.

Question of the day - Do you enjoy deep conversations with other people?

Communication Skills

Do you enjoy deep conversations with other people?