Communication skills are one of the most sought-after skills for employers to find in a job candidate. Since it bears so much importance, what can candidates do to improve their communication skills?
We have eight tips to help you become a more effective communicator and stand out from other candidates:
- Listen. Listening is a crucial element of communication. Effective listening skills can reduce the risk of misunderstandings and misinformation issues. To improve your listening skills, it is important to put away distractions such as cell phones. Additionally, if needed take notes to ensure you don’t miss any important information.
- Know your audience. The way you speak with other people differs depending on the person you are communicating with and the setting in which it takes place. For example, it is inappropriate to communicate with your coworkers the same way you would communicate with your family or friends. You also cannot speak with your boss in the same manner as you would with your coworkers. Know when it is appropriate to communicate in a formal and informal manner.
- Pay attention to body language. Body language and facial expressions convey more than you may realize. Maintaining eye contact shows respect and indicates you are listening to the person you are speaking with. Having your arms crossed signals that you are closed off while having open body language and a friendly or interested expression on your face indicates you are open to communication. Think about what your body language says to others.
- Word use. Always pay attention to your word use as it differs depending on the situation. For example, you should not use technical terms or jargon with people that do not have a detailed understanding of the topic or field at hand. Avoid using slang, abbreviations and unnecessary filler words, such as “like” or “um,” especially in business settings.
- Check your work before sending and think before you speak. Let’s face it: most people will stop reading something when they see spelling errors. It is unprofessional to send written content with errors. Always check your written communications for spelling and grammar errors. “Think twice, speak once,” as the old saying goes. Pause and think about your comment before speaking to ensure your answer is thoughtful and conveys your intended message.
- Choose the appropriate medium. Certain media (methods of communication) are best used in certain situations. Although it is not always easy to tell when to use different media, it is an important part of good communication. If you need to deliver bad news to someone, it is best to tell them in person rather than in writing. When you are dealing with time-sensitive information, ideally you should deliver the information in person and in written form. By delivering the information in this manner, you reduce the risk of information getting lost and the risk any information getting misunderstood. Also, if you have a lot of information to pass on, sometimes it is easier to pick up the phone rather than type up an email.
- Be concise and stay on point. Be considerate of others’ time. This means don’t ramble and try not to provide too much or too little information. Practice being specific enough to provide the necessary information without being too wordy.
- Read and write more. To keep your brain and communication skills sharp, read more, write more and do crosswords or brain teasers regularly. Practice using different words in your writing to expand your vocabulary and try taking business communication courses to teach you proper business etiquette.
If you keep these tips in mind and practice them regularly, you can vastly improve your communication skills and stand out from other job candidates.