Good communication skills are key to success in life, work and relationships. Without effective communication, a message can turn into error, misunderstanding, frustration, or even disaster by being misinterpreted or poorly delivered.
Communication is the process by which we exchange information between individuals or groups of people. It is a process where we try as clearly and accurately as we can, to convey our thoughts, intentions and objectives.
Communication is successful only when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information.
In today's highly informational and technological environment it has become increasingly important to have good communication skills.
While many individuals still continue to struggle, the inability to communicate effectively will hold them back not only in their careers, but in social and personal relationships.
The steps for acquiring good communication skills:
Know what you want to say and why. Understand clearly the purpose and intent of your message. Know to whom you are communicating and why. Consider any barriers you may encounter such as cultural differences or situational circumstances (gender, age, or economic biases). Ask yourself what outcome you want to achieve and the impression you want to leave.
How will you say it? We're all aware by now, that it's not always what you say, but how you say it that counts. Begin by making eye contact. You inspire trust and confidence when you look a person in the eyes when you speak. Second, be aware of your body language since it can say as much, or more, than your words. By standing with arms easily at your side you tell others that you are approachable and open to hearing what they have to say. If instead, your arms are crossed and shoulders hunched, it suggests disinterest or unwillingness to communicate. Good posture and an approachable stance help make even difficult communication flow more smoothly. Make sure you speak in a cooperative, non-adversarial tone. Be nonjudgmental.
Listen. Communication is a two way street. After you've said what you have to say, stop, listen, and look for feedback and clues of comprehension. While the person is responding avoid any impulses to cut them off or listen only for the end of the sentence so that you can blurt out more ideas or thoughts that come to your mind. Respectfully give them your full attention. When they are finished, to ensure that your message has been clearly and correctly understood, ask open questions and encourage discussion. Fine-tune your message if necessary.
Reach understanding, agreement or consensus. Once you have had the opportunity to discuss your reach agreementmessage and the feedback to it, re-visit the purpose of the interchange. Have you reached common ground, solved a problem, or clarified your position? If the purpose was to teach or instruct, have you accomplished your goal? To communicate well is to understand and beunderstood. Make sure that your message has been received as intended and that any questions or concerns have been alleviated. You can even agree to disagree. There are no guarantees that your communication efforts will be meet with total compliance and agreement. As long as you understand each other, are cordial and respectful, you can still have a successful exchange.
The importance of communication skills can be seen when good, quality communication occurs that prevents misunderstandings, miscommunication and conflict. It produces productive work and performance which ultimately impacts the company's bottom line.
Managers need to understand the importance of communication skills in order to increase the effectiveness of internal communication between management and staff.
The importance of communication skills are often listed in the "top four" job skills which predict both employee and employer satisfaction? Poor communication is often a reason that employees quit jobs or look elsewhere to find other opportunities.
While one might think that salaries would be most important, this isn't always the case. Misunderstanding what is being said at work can lead to increased stress and job frustration.
The bottom line? Communicating clearly is a vital part of optimizing worker - and employer - satisfaction. Never underestimate the importance of communication skills in all workplace situations.
Speak directly and employers will understand what employees are saying (and vice versa). In contrast, hesitant, garbled or indirect language can not only create confusion and frustration but keep the intended message from getting through. It is a mistake to think that completing required tasks is enough to stay competitive in a tough job market. The power of well-chosen words, campaigns, award ceremonies and other forms of communication can help employees remain satisfied at work.
A vital part of communication is making employees feel understood and valued. Specific campaigns can help boost employee morale and give workers a chance to feel recognized and valued. When there is a strong morale in offices and other work environments, job retention is often high as well. The type of campaign that can be devised is limited only by imagination but should fit the job and goals of the workplace. Find sources of effective banners, slogans and other ways to support campaigns.
The importance of communication skills - So what are the specific communication skills which are most important? To understand this, it may be helpful to understand basic communication patterns which are already occurring at work. Pay attention to what is said when talking to others and pay equal attention to the person's response. Don't ignore nonverbal cues such as yawning, crossed arms and other signs of boredom or frustration. These are signs that communication needs to be enhanced.
Of course, getting people to have team spirit or to feel valued as part of a group is also important. Clear, direct language can help employees and employers feel like they are working towards a common goal - or create dissatisfaction. From start to finish, every person involved in a project should have a clear sense of the reason for doing a required tasks and it also helps if they feel valued. The right words can boost group morale. Emphasize the team purpose and have frequent feedback sessions to nip frustration in the bud.
If an employer or employee indicates signs of anger, unhappiness or confusion, be sure to stress the main goals of the job. Perfect communication at all times is not always possible but clearing up problems can be handled quickly by asking the right questions. This is where the importance of communication skills comes in. Find out if everyone shares a solid understanding, not only of goals, but expected time frames to complete tasks, possible costs and other aspects of the job. Listen to suggestions and ideas for improving job performance.
Highlighted under the importance of communication skills is the skill of simply listening. Don't make the mistake of assuming that only spoken words fall into the realm of communication. After making a statement or point, stop and listen. Wait at least ten or fifteen seconds before speaking again - and perhaps longer. This gives people a chance to collect their thoughts and respond. Good listeners are often equally good at getting people to feel understood and this helps build trust and a happier workplace.