Good communication – the workplace skill you can’t avoid

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Here’s a secret when it comes to climbing the career ladder, and some might say it’s an unfortunate secret: You need to be noticed. You need to make yourself heard instead of blending in with the crowd. For example, if you’re working in a group, volunteer to be the one who presents back. In group meetings, prepare well so that you can voice your sensible opinions instead of remaining in silence. To do this most effectively, you need to be a confident, decisive communicator who can get their points across clearly.

The bad news is that for many, communication is often a weakness. In some cases, communication is a frightening prospect. However, communication, like any other skill, is something that is improved through practise. Some of the best communicators in the world started out as nervous fidgety speakers with low confidence. What eventually made them more and more confident was more and more practise.

It’s probably a worthy thing to remember – if doing something in the workplace scares you, you probably need to do more of it.

Tesla CEO and multibillionaire Elon Musk is a self-proclaimed introvert. As he’s said: “I’m not a naturally extroverted person. I used to be horrendous at public speaking, and sort of shake and be unable to speak. I’ve learned not to do that.” Richard Branson has said that communication is the number one skill that any leader should possess. In his own words: “Communication levels the playing field. If you can speak well, you can outshine the competition in so many ways.

If you want to succeed in business, you need to communicate well – in a confident, concise manner. People who waffle for ages around a subject don’t endear themselves to others, and struggle to get their message across. Similarly, people who never talk are never noticed, and seldom seen as managerial material.

Unfortunately, the only way to grow in this regard is to put yourself out there. Look for opportunities where you can communicate, present or contribute more in discussions. Before you know it your nerves will decline, and you’ll have gained the positive attention of your superiors.

It is important to never forget that great communicators are great listeners, first and foremost. Make a habit of listening to understand, rather than listening to respond. Critical to effective communication skills are other non-verbal actions such as friendly, open body language, acknowledging the other person, and really thinking and evaluating what is being said.

Never let mistakes happen due to a simple lack of communication and clarity. Remember two golden rules: If something can go wrong, it will. If someone is unclear about how to do something, they’ll do it incorrectly.

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