When was the last time you have seen a job description that did not list “good communication skills” amongst one of its top 5 essential criteria? Regardless of whether it is the most junior, or least people-centric roles, the skill of effective communication is highly in demand and critical to every role in every organization. The buzz-filled, busy world we live in now has highlighted this need as we now need to be effective communicators across a vast variety of platforms and mediums. In this era, there is no room for weak communication.
Hence, whether you are interviewing for a new job, communicating with your colleagues, (or your boss!), and even with your family and friends, sharp communication skills are your route to success.
Communication skills go a lot deeper than just verbal or written, and include non-verbal cues, in addition to “the human touch”. It is very important to be able to communicate with clarity and positivity, as it is to be able to read others’ behaviors, and listen emphatically, and be adaptable- to effectively manage negative emotions and conflicts, and navigate hard conversations.
Some of the top hygiene factors we can apply in our communication etiquette at workplaces include the following:
Observe the impact of your communication on others, and ask for feedback from your peers and those whom you are consistently close in contact with. Once you know how you are doing, you would know what to improve on.
Begin all communication on a positive note and focus on offering solutions rather than merely highlighting problems. Refrain from negative comments or making excuses for tasks that have not been accomplished.
Remember, positivity is not about sounding joyful and all hyped up. Rather, it means you initiate interactions, highlight possibility, and convey your conviction on how you are willing to work to make things come together- Being the first to make eye contact, offer your hand to shake, having an idea or solution, go into a room, and make the call, shows good initiative.
Understand the position of that person you are talking to. Do you know his pain point? Find your common ground, and show that you care. Build your relationship from there.
Good eye contact, appropriate expressions, and gestures– It indicates full attention, interest, and respect. And of course, all these actually help you train your full attention on the person whom you are speaking with, helping you to watch for his non-verbal cues, and responding to them, effectively showing a high level of empathy and sensitivity, which builds trust.
Don’t check your e-mail, look at your phone, send texts, check how well your stocks are doing, or disengage in any way. It simply shows disinterest and disrespect.
In business, the handshake is often the only appropriate expression of touch so it’s critical to have a good one, a good handshake consists of a full and firm handclasp with palms embraced web to web. Shake up and down once or twice, coupled with a sincere smile and eye contact.
Strike the right balance—firm enough to convey confidence yet matched to the strength of the other person.
Appropriate Voice Tone
If anyone had ever said to you, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it,” they were referring to your paralanguage.
Like facial expressions, choosing the appropriate paralanguage is critically important because it conveys emotional meaning, attitude, and impact.” Consider recording your side of several conversations throughout the day. Listen to the recordings and identify what your voice tone communicates.
Keeping good communication hygiene is like keeping a checklist of all your best practices. Being aware of both your strengths and your areas of improvement enables you to practice for improvement, refines your game, instills trust and respect, and increases your chances of creating and sustaining strong professional relationships.