From the moment of birth, babies are learning how to communicate, building on their innate ability to communicate to their mother through crying. Thereafter, throughout life, a person’s development and progress relies on communication of one form or another, either communicating to or receiving communication from others. Communication skills are a very important asset to help any person on the road to success.
Being able to communicate is essential to all creatures in nature, and the human species is no different in that respect. Of course, we regard human communication as far more complex and sophisticated than that of other species. There are many avenues and means of communication that we, as a species, use. However, for the purpose of this article we will focus on interpersonal communication skills, as it is those skills that may be critical to success in many fields of endeavour.
It is no coincidence that most large companies and organisations will include communication skills in their training programme for their staff’s career development. For most businesses and non-profit organisations, their long term success and efficiency will receive a valuable contribution from employees with good communication skills. For those who need specific types of communication skills, such as public speaking, special training courses may be arranged internally, contracted out, or the employee sent on an outside course.
Few in business would argue that the better your communication skills, the more success you are likely to experience, and the more your career is likely to flourish in the future. There are, of course, more factors in achieving success than communication skills, but their potential contribution is undoubted.
The Benefits of Good Communication Skills
The potential benefits of good communication skills are too many and various to go into here; they could even save your life at some point in the future, win the heart of your dream partner, or save your marriage.
In business, though, some of the main benefits of developing your communication skills are:
Managing Your Staff
Staff management involves constant and effective, two way, communication. If you are not capable of communicating with those under your control, then your management ability will be constrained, and may even be damaging to staff morale. Being able to communicate effectively will come into play when delegating to, encouraging, understanding, and training staff, amongst other things.
Good communications with your staff can help you with their motivation, whether directly or through encouraging their self motivation, or both. In short, being able to communicate effectively will make you a better manager.
Dealing With People Outside of the Organisation
Whether you work for a business, or a government or other type of organisation, you may be in a job that requires meeting people from outside of the organisation or talking to them over the telephone. Good communication skills take on a dual role in those cases, as you represent the organisation as well as yourself, so your effectiveness is doubly important. Firstly to the image of the company or organisation, and secondly to your career success.
Building Self Confidence
As your communication skills improve, you will find your self confidence increase also, so improving your communication skills can be an important part of your long term success strategy.
There are numerous other benefits to improving your skills in communicating with other, in many aspects of your life.
Ways to Improve Communication Skills
Training courses on communication skills are commonplace, and with any luck your own employer, if you are not self employed, will have a course or series of courses they can arrange for you. The type of course you should do depends on the reason for needing the course; a course on public speaking would be different to one on communicating with your staff, or employees. You can also find courses on verbal communication skills, telephone skills, written communication skills. It is really a matter of deciding, in conjunction with your boss, if you have one, which is the priority course for you.
Practice is also essential, so speaking to staff or to groups of people at every opportunity can be important. there are also three other points to bear in mind:
1. Communication is two way. It is not just a question of you talking to your staff. You need to encourage them to communicate openly with you too. In some cases, that may not be easy, so interpersonal skills really come to the fore here. Being a good listener is a critical skill; in fact, I consider being a good listener is a very powerful personal asset to have.
2. Whoever it is you are speaking to is an individual; a group is made up of individuals, and it is always important to remember that. In my time I have managed over 100 staff in various places, including in my own business in England in the 1990’s. Each of those people was entirely individual, so getting to know and understand them was always important.
3. Improving your memory can be especially important if you have a lot of staff or employees under you, as you need to understand each as individuals to be an excellent manager. Remembering them as an individual whenever you need to talk to them can be reassuring to them, and beneficial to both of you.
Memory can play a big part in other forms of communication. Public speaking is an example, as speaking to a group of people from memory is a great boost to your confidence and effectiveness. If a public speaker has to refer to notes non stop, it greatly reduces the effect of their talk.
Memory can also be an important asset when presenting ideas, work and proposals to your seniors. If you have a grasp of all the appropriate information, it can not only improve your case, but also create an excellent impression, making you look sharp and on top of your job.
Communication is a vast subject, but your communication skills are worth developing, and you have to start somewhere. Maybe the best place to start is with your weaknesses, and that is something it would be helpful to talk to your boss about. If you have no boss, then personal friends whose opinion you trust and respect may be an alternative source of opinion.