Communication is a skill that essential for success in work, family, and personal life. Like with any skill, it needs to be learned and mastered. Most employers rate communication skills as one of the most important requirements in the workplace.
The challenge of developing communication skills comes when your message needs to be understood by the other person. Every person has their own experience, knowledge, and way of processing information. This means that what is understood by one person could be completely misunderstood by someone else.
On a one-to-one level, this may not cause too much of a problem. Usually, it’s possible to gauge by the other’s reaction if they understand you or not. But when you want to be understood by a group of people, the need for excellent communication skills is even more important.
Another reason why communication skills are extremely important is because of new technology. Email, instant messaging, and social media have revolutionised the way communication takes place. This means that, for your message to be understood, you may need to learn a whole new set of skills to communicate effectively.
Let’s look in at some of the necessary steps required to improve your communication skill set.
Good communication skills start with listening, not speaking. When you are talking on a personal level with someone, make sure and listen actively. This means responding to what they are saying, asking for clarification, and giving them your full attention.
Whatever message you want to get across, you need to take into consideration your audience. For example, if you are conveying instructions to an employee, you should think about what they already know on the subject. If you have to address a large audience, try to envisage their needs and concerns and then go about addressing them.
Use language and terms of addressing a person appropriate to the situation. For example, using acronyms in personal text messages may be fine. However, ending a business letter or email to your boss with ‘TTFN’ may be highly inappropriate.
Always double check any correspondence you send via social networking, email, or text messages. Having spelling mistakes in your letter will give a bad impression of you and the company you work for. Also, some grammar or spelling errors could even give a completely wrong idea.
Avoid the temptation of burying good ideas and a mountain of words. One of the best communication skills you can learn is to provide enough information using the least amount of words.
If you have to communicate by email, then rereading and rewording your email can help to reduce wordiness.
If you have to prepare a presentation, then knowing your subject well and having plenty of practice can help avoid talking so much that your audience misses the point.
Like with any master of their trade, you should know which tools to use and when to use them. So, it is with communication. There are a number of tools you can use to communicate and each of them have their own function.
For example, many employees prefer if you send them a text message to see if they have free time before calling or meeting with them. However, getting into a heated discussion to vent frustrations using text messages is not good communication practice.
If you have a serious matter to discuss with someone, then it is better to do it face to face rather than sending an email.
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