Being able to communicate effectively is an important life skill that enriches all areas of your life, personal and professional. Your relationships are greatly impacted by how you communicate with people. At your workplace, the need for effective communication is of paramount importance as it can make or break your career. Effective communication skills are a catalyst for professional growth, and here is how they can help you grow -
What are the different types of effective communication skills to master?
Communication goes beyond just the words you speak. Effective communication types can be grouped into three broad categories -
Oral communication - Also known as verbal or spoken communication, oral communication includes all conversations you have via the spoken word. These include in-person meetings and phone calls and mediums like TV, radio, video conferences, etc.
Written communication - All your internal and external emails, memos, publications, social media posts, website content, and more are a part of your organization’s written communication.
Non-verbal communication - The things you don’t express verbally or in writing are just as important as what you say or write. Your body language, gestures, and the tone and volume of your voice are also very important parts of effective communication.
Why is effective communication important?
Whether you are managing a large team or are a new employee fresh out of college, you need to understand the importance of communication skills in professional life if you want to build strong working relationships. Read on to learn how effective communication helps not just you as an individual but also your organization.
Effective communication reduces conflict
Probably one key importance of effective communication is conflict resolution. Effective communication reduces the chances of miscommunication and misinterpretations and helps prevent misunderstandings. Lack of understanding often gives rise to frustrations and rifts in professional relations, which can negatively impact your work life and, in turn, your organization’s success.
Effective communication increases efficiency and productivity
When people within a team and an organization communicate effectively, it improves all employees’ overall efficiency and productivity. A clear communication channel with your superiors, peers, and juniors allows clear and concise messages to be relayed quickly. From discussing task deliverables and deadlines to sharing feedback, chances of mistakes, escalations, and delays are greatly reduced when each person communicates effectively.
Effective communication contributes to business growth
Effective communication holds the business together, and without a clear understanding of responsibilities and expectations, organizations struggle to fulfill their vision and mission. According to a survey by Workamajig, 29% of employees stated that projects fail because of poor internal communication. All employees and leaders within an organization need to have strong communication skills for the business to grow.
Effective communication helps build a team
Building a strong and successful team requires honest and effective communication. You cannot expect a team to thrive if its members do not communicate with each other clearly and respectfully. Effective communication by all team members is crucial for boosting their performance and improving the team’s motivation and morale.
What are the benefits of effective communication?
Now that you know why effective communication is important, here are some ways in which it can directly or indirectly benefit you, your team, and your organization
1. Communicating effectively helps you improve your relationship with all stakeholders. Be it your boss, your client, or your junior, your communication skills will allow you to nurture your professional relationship with people and deliver even the most difficult messages with respect, empathy, and calmness.
2. Communication skills are extremely important if you want to progress and succeed in your career. No organization would like to have an employee on board that cannot articulate their thoughts and ideas. Regardless of your job role and the industry you work in, you will have to communicate with people and have good professional relationships. This is why being an excellent communicator is an essential skill that all employers seek.
3. Improving your communication skills will give a massive boost to your confidence and self-esteem. The more you develop your communication skills, the easier it will become to talk to people and grow your network. This will further boost your morale and make you communicate more, and the cycle will continue.
4. Effective communication skills will foster a positive and safe environment where everybody feels respected. People from different backgrounds will collaborate as a team to share ideas and solve problems when all members contribute to an open, honest, and respectful channel of communication.
5. The preferred mode of communication will differ based on your type of work. With effective professional communication skills, you will be able to communicate with different people in different ways. Some stakeholders might prefer a phone call or email, while others would like to meet in person. If you have strong communication skills, you can accommodate the various needs of the people around you and deliver information that works best for them.
6. You don’t have to be in a leadership role to be a leader, which holds when it comes to communication skills. As a strong communicator, you can inspire your team members also to develop their communication skills and engage in conversations that help their personal and professional relationships.
How to develop effective communication skills?
When it comes to developing effective communication skills, remember to start small. You will not be able to change your ways overnight, but with daily practice, you will soon master and implement these skills in your daily conversations.
1. Identify the purpose and intent of your message
Before you dive into learning how you will say or write down your message, ask yourself what you need to say and why. You also need to take a few moments to identify who the message is for. It is highly unlikely that you will communicate with your client the same way you communicate with your team members, making sure you think about these parameters. Make a note of any communication barriers. For example, words used in everyday conversations in your country could be offensive in some other places. Cultural differences and differences in age, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds should also be considered before communicating.
2. Figure out how to effectively convey your thoughts and ideas
After carefully understanding your message and audience, decide on the best way to put across your points. You have several different forms of communication to choose from, so make sure you choose the right medium. When discussing important business matters like team restructurings, layoffs, salary cuts, etc., do them in person. Scheduling meetings or informing the team about your absence are things that can be communicated via email or phone call.
3. Be concise
The sign of a good communicator is how quickly and they can convey their message. Avoid using unnecessary filler words and do not ramble on - this will cause your listener or reader to get bored or disengaged. Keep your sentences simple, clear, and concise, and do not repeat the same points over and over again. Silence is an often underrated tool of communication, so remember to use it to your advantage. Take enough pauses to give your listeners some time to reflect on your message and allow your words to make an impact.
4. Pay attention to your body language
As mentioned previously, the non-verbal cues of communication are just as important as the words you say. When used effectively, your body language can improve your listener’s interest, engagement, and retention. Maintain eye contact while speaking to form a connection with your listener and increase their trust in you. Make sure your facial features, gestures, and posture align with the content and tone of your words. Sitting with your arms crossed in front of your shoulders gives an impression of being unapproachable and closed off, so let your body relax, keep your arms relaxed by your side, smile (when appropriate), and have a warm, welcoming expression to make your communication more effective.
5. Constantly ask for feedback
The best way to learn and improve is to ask others for feedback. While you don’t need to do this after every phone call and email, make it a point to speak to your peers or manager after important presentations and ask them how you can improve. You can also ask for feedback from your audience after a speech or a talk. Incorporate the feedback into your next presentation or speech, and keep practicing to get better.
6. Learn to listen
To be a good communicator, you need to be an even better listener. Communication is a two-way street, and to communicate effectively, and you need to pay close attention to what others are saying. Remember to listen to understand, not just to reply. Actively listen to what the other person is saying and ask questions to clear any ambiguities and confusion. Listen with empathy and encourage people to express their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment freely.
7. Be respectful
You need to respect others and give them the freedom to express their opinions. Even if you disagree with their ideas and their thought process, acknowledge their inputs, and speak to them in a way that does not demean or belittle them in any way.
What are some examples of poor and ineffective communication at the workplace?
Just like there are good and effective communication skills that help your company succeed, there are some terrible communication methods that will negatively impact your organization in the long run. Here are some poor communication techniques that you should avoid at your workplace -
1. Being rude and insensitive
2. Not allowing others to express their opinions
3. Using a passive-aggressive tone
4. Speaking in an intimidating or threatening manner
5. Not asking for incorporating feedback
6. Relying on incorrect mediums for critical messages
Understanding the importance of effective communication is the first step in making your work environment more efficient, productive, and positive. Like any other skill, effective communication takes time to learn, practice, and master. Start small and make minor changes every day to use effective communication skills as a catalyst for professional growth.
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Aaron Nason, Editor & Content Acquisition, SCIKEY
Aaron earned his Bachelor of Multimedia from the Swinburne University of Technology. He has more than 20 years of experience—mainly in startups where he wore many hats including account management, customer service, marketing, recruitment, and tech support.
Aaron is the editor in charge of managing content for Marketing In Asia, Asia's leading media and marketing tech platform for brands and content creators.
A digital native himself, he is enthusiastic about blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFT art and games, artificial intelligence, and all evolving technologies.