The Best Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills
- The best communicators know how to first listen
- Take a proactive approach by keeping communication lines open, especially while working remotely
- Learn how to filter what you say and how you say things
- Ask for feedback - whether related to your communication skills or if what you said was understood
- Almost every job requires good communication - and companies know this, so practice, practice, practice!
For every job, there are certain, specific skills that are non-negotiable. You can’t be a computer programmer and not know how to code. You can’t be a salesperson without knowing how to pitch.
Yet there are also skills that are needed for every job. Soft skills such as knowing how to work within a team or sticking to commitments are all things employers will want in an employee, regardless of the job title.
Communication skills are one subset of soft skills that are now more important than ever. At a time when remote work and hybrid work is the norm, poor communication risks alienating employees and hindering productivity. 28% of employees even cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time.
So what are the best ways to improve your communication skills?
First, practice how to listen
A popular misconception with communication is it just means being able to speak better. The reality is that if you’re focused solely on the best ways to express yourself, you likely aren’t listening to what someone else has to say.
The best communicators know how to listen. To become a better listener, understand that you need to let other people speak not only to be polite but to try and empathize with their point of view. Let people finish their sentences and ask questions if anything seems unclear to you. Remember that listening is an opportunity to learn how the other person thinks and what their situation is like.
Then take a proactive approach to communication
When working remotely, it’s easy to take normal communication levels for granted. You must take a more proactive approach in keeping communication lines open so nobody feels left out or in the dark.
Don’t be afraid to initiate communication first with your team. Even something as simple as checking in with team members first thing in the morning can be a great conversational lubricant to help people feel welcome and show you care.
Develop a filter and read the audience
The best communicators know there’s a time and place for everything. For example, you probably shouldn’t communicate with an intern the same way you communicate with your boss.
Learn to modulate expressing your thoughts and feelings according to the setting and person you’re speaking with. Developing such a filter will help smoothen communications and avoid unnecessary conflict in the workplace.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Ask colleagues if there’s anything they believe you can work on when it comes to your communication skills, and even if there were any prior misunderstandings you should’ve cleared up earlier.
Seeking feedback lets your colleagues know that not only are you looking for ways to better yourself, but you’re also open to having honest dialogue on how people communicate around the workplace. Encouraging dialogue can pave the way for greater relationships between not just you and your colleagues, but in the workplace overall.
Hiring people with great communication skills
Of course, it’s much better for a workplace if new recruits already come equipped with excellent communication skills vs. having to train them.
Companies know this and that’s why competition is so intense for candidates who have no problem with communication. During an annual GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, employers were asked to identify which skills they prioritized the most when hiring for a mid-level position. Communication skills understandably topped the list.
It’s recommended that businesses invest in solutions that’ll make it easier to scout for communication-ready applicants. Recruitday’s Microsoft-powered referral tools make it easy for current employees to submit a referral for someone they already know, with the platform capable of tracking the referral’s progress from interview to onboarding. Souring an applicant from a referral makes it likelier that they already have an existing rapport with your existing employees, guaranteeing smooth communication before they even start.
Communication as an investment
The benefits of effective communication between colleagues range from increased engagement to markedly higher productivity. It can’t be stressed enough how an employee adept in communication can improve the workplace environment. There’s a reason why they’re in-demand—you don’t want to find out the hard way why.