How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)
Updated 1 September 2023
Communication skills help you build relationships, share ideas and information and play your role in the workplace effectively. Being an effective communicator can help you obtain your dream job and improve your career prospects. It is important to know the communication skills employers look for and how to improve them. In this article, we discuss communication skills and how to use them to improve your employability.
What are communication skills?
Communication skills refer to your abilities to pass, receive and process information. They are the traits that allow you to make requests, ask questions, understand instructions, give direction and relay information with clarity and conciseness. Good communication skills are essential in your professional and private life. The most common communication skills are listening, speaking and writing. These skills are necessary to perform your work effectively.
Related: 4 Types of Communication
Communication skills examples
In Singapore, employers place a high premium on employees with well-rounded communication skills. Here are examples of communication skills that can improve your employability and earning power:
Conciseness and clarity
Use of the correct medium
Active listening requires you to focus on what a person is telling you. Active listeners strive to understand the speaker's thoughts to provide a satisfactory answer.
To become an active listener, make a deliberate effort to always pay full attention to a speaker. Avoid interrupting the person in mid-sentence. Ask follow-up questions to clarify matters that may seem unclear to you. Active listening is a habit you can learn, but it might take time. Continue practising this skill. It can help you gain the trust and respect of colleagues and business partners.
Almost every profession requires having good writing skills. You may need to write reports, emails, social media posts and slides. It is also important to be proficient in using writing applications.
Some jobs require regular presentations to customers, teammates, junior employees and managers. Presentation skills require confidence, public speaking skills and a good knowledge of computer applications for creating slides. You need to be able to deliver insightful presentations that will influence your audience positively.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions to guide meaningful communication and build lasting relationships. Being emotionally aware requires you to have these four qualities:
These traits will help you to avoid conflict, empathise with others and overcome the common challenges that occur in places where different personalities have to work together. Emotional intelligence will help you communicate confidently and make it easier to grow friendships and lasting relationships with others.
Showing confidence assures people of your ability to deliver results and perform responsibilities. Relax your body while speaking with someone. Maintain eye contact and give a firm handshake.
Conciseness and clarity
In written and verbal communication, it is important to always go straight to the point. Remove unnecessary information and use clear language in your communication. This way, you get your ideas across quickly and reduce the chances of confusing your audience.
Use of the correct medium
Effective communication requires knowing the appropriate medium to use for different scenarios. General information may be disseminated through email or social media. However, it is advisable to discuss personal or serious matters face-to-face.
Being respectful involves acknowledging the opinions of others, even if you don't agree with them. Respect can produce more meaningful conversations that will lead to better collaboration and results. You can show respect by paying attention when people talk to you. You may also mention their contribution in your response.
The ability to disagree with others while maintaining cordial relations can help you earn their respect and prevent conflicts.
A friendly tone will encourage others to communicate with you. In your interactions with customers and coworkers, try to demonstrate genuine sincerity towards them.
Effective communication requires the ability to give and accept critical feedback. Feedback allows you to understand other people's perspectives, makes collaboration easier and helps you become a better person.
When you speak with someone, there is a lot you can learn from what they don't say. Nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, eye contact, posture and general body language can help you identify when someone is distracted, insincere or holding back information. The same applies to you, so make sure to send positive nonverbal cues while communicating with others.
How to improve your communication skills
With practice and time, you can acquire and improve on the most important communication skills you need to succeed in your career. Here are steps to take to begin improving your communication skills:
Identify your weaknesses
Look for opportunities to improve
Practice communication skills
Attend communication skills classes and workshops
1. Identify your weaknesses
Identify the communication skills in which you are weak and make a plan to strengthen them. Common weaknesses are the fear of public speaking, poor presentation skills or lack of open-mindedness. Knowing what to work on allows you to set goals and deadlines for yourself.
Once you've identified areas where you should improve in communication skills, work to strengthen those competencies. The more you practise those skills, the more effective you will become at communicating and connecting with others.
3. Practice communication skills
With time, you can learn and internalise any communication skill. Participate in activities that can help you improve. For example, seek more public speaking opportunities to build up your confidence.
4. Attend communication skills classes and workshops
Read books on the subject or attend training. Many of these programs include role-play and group discussions that allow you to meet other people with the same problem.
Communicating effectively in the workplace
Effective communication with colleagues and customers requires mastering several skills and knowing when and how to use them. Here are a few ways to improve your communication at work:
Understand body language
To help others quickly understand your aims and viewpoints and avoid potential misunderstandings and conflicts, it is important to communicate with clarity and brevity. Rather than using verbose language, cut your sentences to brief but meaningful messages that get your point across without confusing the audience.
Empathy is a vital skill for effective communication because it helps you deliver messages while considering the goals, perspectives and emotional state of your colleagues. For example, practising empathy can help you avoid conflict while collaborating on projects with colleagues from different departments who have divergent views and objectives.
Understand body language
Being able to read and use body language can make you a better communicator in the workplace. People send messages through their movements and facial expressions. Knowing how to read these messages and being able to control your own body language is an excellent way to become more effective at communicating with coworkers.
For example, rolling your eyes or crossing your arms during an argument can send the wrong message to a colleague. Understanding these subtle signs allows you to take control of the situation, avoid potential conflicts and persuade people to support your point of view.
Sometimes you need to be assertive to achieve goals and change people's minds in the workplace. You might need to be assertive in a meeting to counter proposals you believe will not be beneficial to the organisation. It can also be necessary while justifying reasons for a raise or more funding or time for an important project. However, you must temper confidence with respect and always provide convincing arguments to support your position.
How to highlight communication skills
Highlighting your communication skills in your job application can improve your chances of having a lucrative career. Here are several ways to do that:
1. Highlight communication skills through your CV
Write a professional CV that is free of grammar and spelling errors. Use the correct format, structure and consistency. If the job description lists specific communication skills for the position, mention them in different sections of your CV, including the summary, work history and in a dedicated skills section.
2. Highlight communication skills in your cover letter
In your cover letter, describe how your communication skills contributed to workplace achievements. For example, you can mention situations where your verbal and interpersonal skills helped improve relations with colleagues and customers.
3. Demonstrate communication skills in your job interview
During interviews, verbal and nonverbal communication skills help you make a good impression on recruiters. Your body language can give attentive hiring managers cues about your confidence level. Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer, sitting upright, showing confidence, listening actively and asking insightful questions are all good ways to show communication skills in an interview.
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