3 Key Skills for Effective Communication was originally published on Firsthand.
Finding success in your career is part of living a happy life. The road to career success is a personal one, with each individual experiencing a unique journey; however, there will always be challenges and as you navigate your career you will find many versions of success along the way. Regardless of your chosen career path, the ability to communicate effectively is integral to your success, and today we will be talking about three key elements of communication that you should seek to develop.
If you’ve been following our advice on interviewing, you may have noticed that we place emphasis on building and exhibiting confidence through your words, posture, and overall demeanor. Whether you’re the lead in a meeting or you’re pitching an idea to your boss, speaking with confidence will ensure that others are compelled to listen to what you’re saying. A great way to develop your speaking skill is to record yourself and take a listen back. This may seem scary, but it helps to get used to hearing your own voice, and once you start building confidence you’ll realize how great you can sound.
When practicing, it’s also important to keep a few things in mind. For starters, get used to anticipating how much your audience knows about the topic. It is possible to provide unnecessary or otherwise excess information, which can either confuse or bore your audience, or even make you seem arrogant to certain individuals. Be specific to your audience, as it will save time, and you will come off as being organized and direct.
Another good tactic is to practice in front of friends or family members. This might seem even scarier than listening to a recording of yourself, but it will help you build confidence very quickly. Speak with enthusiasm and excitement, and don’t be afraid to let your unique personality shine through. The anxiety of public speaking can sometimes be harnessed for good, as you can channel your nervous energy into said enthusiasm. Lastly, remain calm, and speak slowly and deliberately; it can be far too easy to rush through a presentation and leave your audience baffled by what you’ve just said.
Ah yes, the all but nearly lost art of the written word. Nowadays, it is very easy to use the myriad abbreviations that exist due to our lovely smartphones and the invention of the text message. Unfortunately, this sort of writing style isn’t looked upon as being well-thought out, and won’t come off as particularly convincing or…uh, intelligent. Now, we don’t all have to be Ernest Hemingway, but learning to effectively put your thoughts down on paper (or screen) is incredibly important.
The best way to practice writing effectively is by, well, writing. Writing is everywhere; on websites you visit, articles you read (like this one!), and on the packaging of products you purchase. If you’re having trouble trying to conjure up your own things to write, pick some things you like and transcribe them on your computer or on a piece of paper. The act of transcribing writing will help you develop a deeper understanding of the words, what they mean, and why they’re impactful. Learning new words can also be fun, and there are plenty of free online thesauruses you can use to expand your vocabulary. Don’t worry too much about memorizing a whole ton of words, you’ll learn to remember them naturally through constantly using them.
There is no shame in emulating writing that you like or that you think works best for you. Remember, we are developing our writing skill for the purposes of communication, and not to write the next great American novel. As with any other skill, practice makes close to perfect, so stick with it and soon you’ll be writing emails that can only be described as masterpieces of modern office literature.
This one requires our favorite activity – studying! The power of the human mind is limitless, so it pays to develop your ability to think and solve problems creatively. Research common workplace and interpersonal issues, and if you’ve recently solved a problem (at work or otherwise), jot down the steps you took and what the outcome was. As with learning to write, this process will help you absorb and retain the information more effectively. This will also help you identify any needless or useless steps, while streamlining your thought process.
Learning to brainstorm and think creatively requires great focus. When studying such concepts, it would be wise to eliminate all outside distractions such as your phone, or any other tasks you’re currently working on. Exercise is great for creative thinking as it will raise your dopamine levels and put you in a good mood. All your research and studying must also be put into practice. If you’re faced with a problem at work, remain calm and remember the things you learned. Do your best to apply the necessary tactics to solve the problem, and keep track of your process and the outcome.
Lastly, read a lot. Seek out things that you like to read or that speak to the type of person you are, and take your time. Rushing through your reading won’t do you any favors when it comes to fully understanding the concepts and retaining the information. Philosophical quandaries are particularly effective studying material, as they often discuss problems and solutions in complex ways.
All of these skills work in tandem, and practicing any individual skill will have a positive impact on the others. There is no race to the finish line here, as these types of skills can always be improved upon, so take your time and be mindful of the progress you make. Soon, you’ll not only communicate effectively, but you’ll realize how much potential you have!