Texting. Emailing. Voxing. IM-ing. Skype-ing. Tweeting. There are so many ways to communicate nowadays. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget good old-fashioned face-to-face talking. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s so important to be able to get your message across clearly and effectively.
No matter what line of work you’re looking to get into, the one vital skill that is integral to every career is communication. Today’s employers not only want educated candidates with some amount of hands-on experience, they also want candidates who are confident, hardworking, and who can communicate with co-workers and clients alike. It’s one of the first things they look for in an interview. The problem is, many of today’s students lack the communication skills that employers are looking for.
What is Communication?
According to SkillsYouNeed.com, “Communication is simply the act of transferring information from one place to another.” It includes spoken communication, i.e., face-to-face, over the phone; non-verbal communication, i.e., body language, appearance; and written communication, i.e., emails, social media, etc. Communication also involves listening to others and understanding the message they’re trying to get across as well. Basically communication encompasses all the ways in which you interact with others both in personal and professional settings.
Why is Communication So Important?
When you can communicate effectively, you’re able to get your ideas across. You’re also able to understand the needs of others better, which can make you a better problem-solver. Matt Mayberry, international speaker, maximum performance strategist, and contributor to Entrepreneur.com, says that good communication skills can even help you find long-term career success by expanding your marketplace reach and by helping you lead and motivate others.
Unfortunately many of today’s college graduates lack the skills to communicate effectively in the workplace. In fact, according to a recent article in Forbes, a survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College found that more than 60 percent of employers say applicants lack crucial “communication and interpersonal skills.”
Strengthening Your Communication Skills
If your school or degree program already includes a communication component — great! You’re ahead of the game. But even if it does, it can’t hurt to bone up on your written and verbal skills. Here are just a few ways you can make sure you have the type of communication skills employers are looking for:
▪ Take a class on public speaking. — Did you know that many people are more afraid to speak in public than they are of dying? Crazy, but true. For some reason, getting up in front of a crowd and talking strikes fear in the hearts of so many of us. Taking a class on public speaking can help you overcome this fear and become an effective presenter. Most schools offer these courses. But if yours doesn’t, just Google “public speaking classes” in your area and you should find a number of options.
▪ Understand body language. — Body language or non-verbal communication can be just as important as verbal communication when it comes to understanding your audience. Furthermroe, if you don’t recognize your own body language, you could be giving off the wrong signals to others as well. Fortunately there are plenty of online resources to help you understand this important but often forgotten aspect of communication.
▪ Don’t say “um” or “like”. — Did you ever notice, like, how many people, like, say the word “like”, like, all the time? It’s, like, annoying. Learn how to speak without using unnecessary conversation fillers such as “um” or “like”. Slow down. Think before you speak. If you do, you’ll sound, like, so much more professional.
▪ Learn how to listen. — Think of all the problems we could solve in this world if we could all just learn how to listen to one another! The problem is so many of us wait to speak instead of actually hearing what the other person is saying. Be patient. Let the other person talk and then wait a few seconds before responding. And when you do, don’t just start talking about you. Show real interest in what others are saying and they’ll do the same for you. And, for heaven’s sake, put your phone away when someone is talking to you. A face-to-face conversation is no time to be responding to texts.
▪ Learn proper grammar. — (This one’s a real stickler for me.) Today’s guidelines for writing are definitely more relaxed than in the past. But that doesn’t mean you can just ignore the basic rules of grammar. If you don’t already know, learn the difference between you’re and your. Understand when to use there, their, or they’re. People notice. Really. The last thing you want is for an employer to disregard your application because of a grammatical error on your resume or cover letter.
The bottom line: communication skills are vital to your success. So make sure to give them the attention they deserve. If you do, you’ll have an advantage come hiring time. ~