In the world of work communication is often touted as being one of the most highly sought after soft skills.
The ability to easily grasp and then disseminate information to others in a way that is easy for them to understand is a skill that has far reaching benefits, even outside of a work environment.
Soft skills (such as communication) are often thought of as being more difficult to learn and improve upon than more traditional hard skills (such as inputting data in a specific piece of software), but like any skill, they can be improved, it just requires some time, effort and consistency.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are best described as representing a range of different abilities, personality traits and attributes that are often necessary for success in a particular role.
Check out our ‘What are soft skills’ page for a more comprehensive explanation of what soft skills are and why they’re good for you.
What are communication soft skills?
Best described as the ability to share or convey ideas easily and effectively with others. Communication soft skills allow you to both understand and be understood by others.
Being highly skilled in communication can benefit you greatly in many other areas of life, not just at work. However, being a masterful communicator in the workplace can really help you to advance your career.
Although we often think that speaking or writing are the main forms of communication, there are other components too. For example, listening plays a vital role in determining whether you are an effective communicator. A good communicator will always wait and listen to whomever they’re interacting with, and consider what they’ve said before responding. Remember, communication is a two way street!
What are 5 good communication skills?
The art of conveying ideas and information through written language
Being able to convey ideas and relay information verbally such as speaking in public or having a good phone manner
The ability to communicate effectively by restating what you hear in your own words in order to gain the highest level of understanding and build trust
Being able to constructively give feedback to people even if it’s negative or difficult in nature
Such as body language and providing non-verbal cues
Improving your communication skills
Many people think that soft skills such as communication are ‘hard baked’ into your personality, however, like all skills, soft skills can be learned and improved upon, it just takes time, a little practice and perseverance.
There are many ways of improving your communication skills, although in truth nothing beats real-life practice, and the only way of obtaining that is by actually doing it.
But just how do you improve your communication skills? There are several different areas you could choose to focus on to try and improve your communication skills such as;
Gaining confidence in speaking
Public speaking induces fear in many people and while this isn’t a massive problem in itself, it can hinder you somewhat in the world of work, which, depending on the job, can often require speaking in front of (sometimes large) groups of people.
In order to become more confident at speaking publicly consider the following points;
- Practice speaking on your own, you can practice with a speech you need to make or pick a random piece of text. The aim here is PRACTICE! Try not to worry too much about the content until you are more comfortable speaking out loud
- Practice in front of others. Once you’ve gained confidence speaking on your own it’s time to try speaking in front of others. Regularly contributing in company meetings is a super easy way to gain experience speaking to others and will help to quickly build your confidence. If you’re unsure what to say then it can be wise spending some time beforehand making some notes around a few key points you want to talk about. If you don’t want to do that then you could try borrowing a friend or family member to practice with instead
- Practice making eye contact while speaking as this will help you form a better connection with your audience and help you to feel more confident
- Join a public speaking group such as Toastmasters
- Expanding the depth of your overall knowledge of a topic will help you to gain additional confidence when speaking about that subject publicly
Gaining confidence in what you know
Becoming a subject matter expert will enable you to speak far more freely about a topic, meaning you won't find yourself needing to rehearse answers anywhere near as much.
Increasing your vocabulary
Having a larger vocabulary will also help you with the previous two points, gaining confidence in both what you know and how you express that knowledge to others.
In order to improve your vocabulary you could consider the following;
- Regularly reading from books, broadsheet newspapers and whitepapers
- Looking up the meaning of any new words you come across and don’t understand
- Reading the thesaurus to find better alternative words for ones you frequently use
- Doing daily word quizzes or puzzles like Wordle or playing Scrabble
Improving your writing ability
Being able to fully articulate what you’re saying without confusing your audience is a key part of good written communication.
You can easily practice your writing skills by writing about a topic you find interesting. This could be done either publicly on some form of blog (helpful for gaining easy feedback - if people don’t like it they will tell you!), or can be done in private on your computer.
If you want to find out more about your own strengths and areas for future development so you can improve your communication skills then visit our personal development centre, create an account learn your soft skills strengths now: