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Soft Skills 101: Communication

Have you ever stopped to think what messages you’re communicating as you sit in front of your computer or while you’re stuck in traffic? While you may not be conscious of your nonverbal signals, others around you are decoding your messages.

Today, hiring managers and recruiters have placed communication skills at the top of their desired employee skills. By rank, these are the top 10 communication skills they are looking for:

1.     (Active) Listening

-       Communication is not possible without one of the parties digesting and processing what is being said or shown. As a member of the audience, it’s crucial that you pay close attention to what the other person is saying, asking questions when you feel confused, and even paraphrasing back to the speaker to provide more clarification.

2.     Nonverbal Communication

-       This would have to be one of the stealthiest communication styles. Most of the time we cross our arms, slouch in our chair, or even continue with a text or email without considering what we are communicating. Instead, work on your eye contact with who is speaking, show you are able to have an open dialogue by keeping your arms placed in your lap.

3.     Clarity and Concision

-       We all know someone who loves to talk. In turn, it makes those around him or her feel as if their time is not respected as well as makes it difficult for anyone else to engage in the conversation. Make sure you’re keeping the road a two-way street by keeping what you have to say short, sweet and simple.

4.     Friendliness

-       The way we welcome someone with a smile or with an upbeat and sincere tone in voice increases the likelihood that an individual will want to speak to you again. Should your interaction not be face to face or over the phone, you can make yourself seem friendlier and welcoming by adding a genuine side-note to an email such as saying, “I hope you had a great weekend!”

5.     Confidence

-       Displaying confidence is more than just walking with perfect posture and standing tall when speaking to others. Confidence can be shown through a serious (but approachable) tone of voice or by merely ensuring what you are saying comes across as a statement, not a question.

6.     Empathy

-       Empathy does not come easy during a heated discussion; yet, it is essential to remember effective communication incorporates respect and openness. The next time you disagree with someone, acknowledge where they are coming from and express your point of view in a calm, clear manner.

7.     Open-Mindedness

-       The beauty of communication is the ability to share ideas, opinions, feelings and more! The only way to absorb these elements is by being willing to comprehend and consider what another person is telling you.

8.     Respect

-       This concept can be harder than it looks. Different cultures and environments make it challenging to be respectful in communication. For example, in grade-school, you can recall having to raise your hand to answer or ask a question. As you made your way into the workplace, you found that you no longer need to raise your hand to speak. The environment in which you were in determined how you were to communicate.

9.     Feedback

-       In the workplace, it is crucial that all associates can take criticism AND positive feedback from their managers. Instead of viewing negative feedback as an unacceptance of you or your work, look at it as a way for you to get better.

10.  Picking the Right Medium

-       Finally, choosing the right channel to discuss topics is crucial. You wouldn’t text your boss to discuss a promotion, would you? It’s important to know what methods of communication are appropriate for the subject at hand.

 

Think you are a communication Rockstar? Try one of the following tests to find out!

 

Want to see how JA is helping to promote soft skills, like communication? Check out JA Career Success.

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