The Importance of Communication Skills
Communication skills in the workplace are important to developing your career as well as to your career as an adult learner, and as such constitutes a central component of your learning experience. Communication skills refer to an individual's written and oral capabilities, as well as the ability to work well with others.
This skill set is so fundamental because successful communication helps to convey your ideas and thoughts, preventing breakdowns in communication at school or in the workplace; furthermore, it can help you to achieve both your professional as well as personal goals.
In fact, a recent survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Business School found that among companies with more than 50 000 employees, communication skills were the deciding factor when it came to hiring managers, reinforcing the importance of strong written and oral capabilities.
Effective Communication Skills
Problems can occur during any stage of the communication process; in order to avoid such difficulties, it is important to be clear and concise, as well as accurate. Organization and planning is also important to relaying information to others.
The following is an outline of the basic communication process:
- source this refers to what you are communicating and why. It is important to have confidence in the information you are passing on to others
- message information you would like to relay
- encoding refers to transferring information in a clear, coherent way. During this stage, it is important to ensure that you are not missing any relevant information, or making any assumptions, including taking into account any culturally sensitive issues
- channel is the medium through which the message is conveyed; the channel can be either verbal (face to face, telephone, videoconference) or written (letter, email, memo, report). Each of these channels is associated with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages that can affect communication
- decoding is the process of active reading or listening to the message
- receiver refers to the individual members of the audience; each individual receives the message differently
- feedback non-verbal and verbal reactions to the message
- context the situation in which the message is delivered (i.e. international, corporate)
Tips for Good Communication Skills
When communicating with others, it is best to keep your message clear, simple and to the point. Organize what you would like to say; often it is best to write down your thoughts, even if you will be relaying the information orally.
In addition, if research is required, ensure that you are thorough in this matter so as to be accurate. Take into account different sides of a particular subject or argument.
Good body language and a clear voice are important for oral presentations and other forms of verbal communication. Take a few deep breaths prior to a meeting and remember that it’s okay if you don’t stick exactly to your speech or don't say things in an extremely eloquent way. Focus on what you want to communicate and relay this to others in a clear, simple way.
Many community colleges and continuing education programs have courses available that are designed to help adult learners improve their communication skills. In addition, many workplaces have workshops designed to help employees make their oral and written skills more effective.