What are communication skills?
Communication skills are the abilities you use when giving and receiving different kinds of information. Some examples include communicating new ideas, feelings or even an update on your project. Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathising. It is also helpful to understand the differences in how to communicate through face-to-face interactions, phone conversations and digital communications like email and social media.
Examples of communication skills
There are different types of communication skills you can learn and practice to help you become an effective communicator. Many of these skills work together making it important to practice communication skills in different contexts whenever possible.
Active listening means paying close attention to the person who is speaking to you. People who are active listeners are well-regarded by their co-workers because of the attention and respect they offer others. While it seems simple, this is a skill that can be hard to develop and improve. You can be an active listener by focusing on the speaker, avoiding distractions like cell phones, laptops or other projects and by preparing questions, comments or ideas to thoughtfully respond.
Adapting your communication style to your audience
Different styles of communication are appropriate in different situations. To make the best use of your communication skills, it’s important to consider your audience and the most effective format to communicate with them.
For example, if you are communicating with a potential employer, it’s better to send a formal email or call them on the phone. Depending on the situation, you may even need to send a formal, typed letter over other forms of communication. In the workplace, you may find it’s easier to communicate complex information in person or via a video conference than in a long, dense email.
In friendships, characteristics such as honesty and kindness often foster trust and understanding. The same characteristics are important in workplace relationships. When you’re working with others, approach your interactions with a positive attitude, keep an open mind and ask questions to help you understand where they’re coming from. Small gestures such as asking someone how they’re doing, smiling as they speak or offering praise for work well done can help you foster productive relationships with both colleagues and managers.
In the workplace, people are more likely to respond to ideas that are presented with confidence. There are many ways to appear confident such as making eye contact when you’re addressing someone, sitting up straight with your shoulders open and preparing ahead of time so your thoughts are polished. You’ll find confident communication comes in handy not just on the job but during the job interview process as well.
Giving and receiving feedback
Strong communicators can accept critical feedback and provide constructive input to others. Feedback should answer questions, provide solutions or help strengthen the project or topic at hand.
Volume and clarity
When you’re speaking, it’s important to be clear and audible. Adjusting your speaking voice so you can be heard in a variety of settings is a skill and it’s critical to communicating effectively. Speaking too loudly may be disrespectful or awkward in certain settings. If you’re unsure, read the room to see how others are communicating