Communication is probably the most important soft skill you’ll ever have. No matter where you work and what job you hold, you won’t succeed without the ability to effectively communicate.
What you might not realize is communication is a multifaceted exchange. Keep reading to learn how to polish your communication skills to perfection.
The art of active listening: How to deepen your understanding of others
You might hear what someone is saying, but if you don’t really understand what they mean, their words will be lost on you. Active listening allows you to comprehend what others are saying by properly engaging in the dialogue.
This involves several techniques, including being fully present — i.e., not looking at your phone or computer — maintaining good eye contact, asking open-ended questions, paying attention to non-verbal cues and paraphrasing what the other person has said. Practicing active listening shows the other person you’re truly interested in the conversation and care about what they have to say.
Non-verbal cues: How body language and tone can communicate as much as words
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it that means the most. Both your body language and tone of voice can speak louder than the words actually coming out of your mouth. Sometimes these cues are emitted consciously and other times they’re not, but regardless, they’re equally important.
There’s several different types of body language, including facial expressions, gestures, posture and eye contact. Being cognizant of both the nonverbal cues a person is sending and what they mean can allow you to gauge their level of interest, sincerity and overall feelings. The body language you display can also allow you to appear more confident in yourself.
As for tone, this greatly impacts how a message is conveyed. How you say something can influence a person’s desire to listen and abide. For example, if you offer feedback to a coworker in a condescending tone, it will likely be conveyed as rude. On the other hand, if your tone is kind and empathetic, they will be more apt to listen.
Embracing vulnerability: How to build trust and connection through honesty
Not a single one of your coworkers is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s how you choose to handle them that matters. Being honest when you’ve made an error can be hard, but this will earn the respect of those around you. Putting yourself in a vulnerable position builds connections. This takes courage, which people really admire. If you gain a reputation as someone who is always honest, even if the truth could make you look bad, your colleagues will know you’re someone who can be trusted.
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