Friday, May 13, 2011

Wanted: Strong Communication Skills

Employers want their employees and prospective new hires to have strong communication skills, but have you ever wondered what exactly this means and why communication is important no matter what work you do?

Depending on your job, you may communicate with managers, co-workers, clients, and suppliers. Each of these audiences may have different communication preferences or protocols. For example, managers might require occasional but formal communication, including presentations, while co-workers typically require frequent but more casual communication.

Communication is key to defining expectations and exchanging information that enables people to do their work. Therefore, regardless of audience, employers want employees who can convey their thoughts clearly. To accomplish this, your professional communication should have a clear purpose. And whether written or verbal, you need to be able to articulate your main point(s) and provide relevant details in an organized and logical manner. Choosing the right words and enunciating and pronouncing your words correctly can also impact your message. Even your use of non-verbal communication, like effective eye contact, hand gestures, and tone are critical to reinforcing what you’re saying.

Employers appreciate employees who can communicate well in various situations, including stressful settings where people are exchanging conflicting views. Additionally, employers expect their employees to work positively and productively with different personalities and communication styles. And of course, being a strong communicator requires you to be a skilled and active listener. Remember, communication is an exchange, and without the ability to listen carefully, your communication will likely fall short.

Effectively communicating takes practice. Exercise and improve your communication skills by offering to facilitate team meetings, create and deliver presentations, and write or edit articles for an organization’s newsletter or magazine. Communication opportunities like these can be plentiful on the job, through professional networking associations, or with non-profit volunteer organizations.

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