How Do Your Communication Skills Measure Up?

4 Minute Read

Communication: It’s an exchange. A process of sharing your thoughts, ideas, or feelings with another person. It’s easy right? We all communicate perfectly…Not so much. Especially today, the ability to communicate effectively is one of the most critical skills an employee or manager must have. Whether it be remote or face-to-face, it’s key to have people in your company that are transparent, assertive, and positive; otherwise it’s almost certain you’ll feel a shift in your company’s culture…if you haven’t already. For communication to be effective, it requires great skill in both listening and speaking. Here are a few tips to improve your skills as a communicator.


Especially today, the ability to communicate effectively is one of the most critical skills an employee or manager must have.


When possible, choose a setting where you can see the other person.

With the changes we’ve seen in the workplace, it’s clear that you cannot always be face-to-face with the other person. But when you can, schedule meetings so you can sit at a comfortable distance from one another, or use video-conferencing so that you can actually see the other person. Being able to look at the person you’re talking to helps you “read” people. In other words, you can pick up on emotions or thoughts based on body language and facial expressions that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see on the phone, through email, or using instant messages. Communicating face-to-face conveys the greatest amount of emotion, trust, and understanding. Use it as often as you can.


Be assertive when communicating.

Before starting a conversation, try to have a goal in mind. And if it’s just to brainstorm, let the other person know that up front. It’s important to be clear and concise in your communication. Avoid sending messages that might leave uncertainty in the mind of the receiver. Be sure to provide enough detail so the person you’re talking to knows exactly what you’re talking about. A lack of clarity can be detrimental to productivity.


Respond rather than react. 

When people come to you with a problem or a question, it’s a gut reaction to make a judgment and say what you’re thinking…many times, without having all of the information. Instead, try to ask questions to get the facts and gain a better understanding of the person’s feelings. Use phrases like, “Tell me more,” or “Can you give me an example?” This will help you better understand a situation. You can also try to grasp how a person is feeling by using a question like, “Can you share a little bit about what lead you to that belief?” And finally, make sure the message you received was the message that was sent. Be sure to repeat back what you heard, using a statement like, “What I thought you just said is XXX. Is that what you meant?”


Even when it’s difficult, remain positive. 

We all have experienced difficult situations at one point or another. One of the choices we always have is how we see or experience any given circumstance. Between your facial expressions and your body language, people can see what you are thinking; even when you’re trying your best to hide it. To help maintain a positive state, ask yourself what you can learn from every situation. Ask yourself what is great about every situation. Now, more than ever, you have to find the silver lining.


Don’t just hear people…Listen! 

Most of you may think you are good listeners, when in fact, you’re probably not. Check yourself every day; in every conversation. Do you ask for opinions, when you know your mind is already made up? Do you ask people how they’re doing only to break the ice, or do you really want to know? Do you find yourself thinking about what to say next, instead of really listening to the person’s response? Good listening means clearing your mind of distractions, and not just hearing what people say, but truly listening.


Be considerate of others. 

As much as you can, don’t get tangled in gossip. Talking about someone’s wrongdoings or missteps to another employee or a friend isn’t a productive way to solve problems. Sometimes though, you may find yourself in a situation where speaking about someone else to others is unavoidable. When that happens, always picture that person standing beside you. Be transparent, and only say the things you would say if they were actually present.


The bottom line is that we can always improve our communication skills.


The bottom line is that we can always improve our communication skills. Even the best communicators hit a bump in the road every once in a while. Effective communication is the ability to transmit a message from a sender to a receiver in such a way that it is understood by both parties. And if we asked you to identify the characteristics of people you admire, it’s a safe bet that communication skills is a characteristic that is high on the list. Effective communication is an essential ingredient in all our lives, whether it be at work or at home. So take a moment. Reflect. How do your communication skills measure up?

Updated December 10, 2020

Need to brush up on your communication skills? Find tips here!