Communication: An Invaluable Skill

We live in an era where communication is one of the most marketable skills around and having less than impressive communication can cost you, whether it be a job, a relationship, or a business deal. Better communicators are essential for any business; they become better leaders, build better teams, and create bigger impacts.

The overarching idea to understand is the difference between a communicator and a talker. A talker is someone who constantly voices their own opinions and steamrolls over everyone else. A communicator on the other hand knows that working with others is based on a system of reciprocation. So how do you develop your skills to become an excellent communicator?

Listen
Communication is a two way street; it's not only about pushing your message, but about understanding others and trying to see from their perspective. Listening is not a passive action: stay alert, take notes, and ask questions for clarification. Paying attention to body language and tone is also a part of listening – both in terms of watching your audience and your own.

Be Authentic
People like people who are real and who communicate like actual human beings rather than robots. It's easy to spot people who aren't being genuine, so being real goes a long way in relationships. In fact, it makes it easier for people to forgive if they're sure you're just being yourself.

Get Personal
People generally don't trust others until they get to know them and see them as a trustworthy and honest source. Building meaningful relationships in your connections helps make conversations more engaging and effective.

Specify
Do not be ambiguous in your communication; people like clarity and simplicity. Time is of the essence and no one wants to be held up listening to an idea or message that takes forever to convey. Make your words count to get your message across without your audience tuning out before you finish.

Know your Market
The message and how you convey it varies depending on who your audience is. Are you creating your message for the boardroom or for a one-on-one email to a co-worker? While it's always important to speak to a group as individuals, knowing you have a diverse audience is different than having a one on one conversation. Even the message itself dictates how it should be delivered; communicating something motivational has a differently style than something sensitive. Knowing when to use humor, data, stories, or analogies really impacts a message.

These are only a small number of skills a person should develop in order to become a better communicator. In business it is invaluable to communicate a message that is specific, accurate, and consistent. The message itself needs to be true, well reasoned, and backed up by logic. A good rule to follow is roll with the punches; even if you plan and prepare, the message might need to change to adapt to a situation. Communication is not only about the person sending a message; it's about helping others, listening to them, and adding value to their world.