Welcome to second semester! The Careers team thought this would be a good time to not only wish you well for the coming months, but to give you a gentle nudge with regard to your ongoing career development.
To stay one step ahead of the competition when you’re applying for your dream job, working on those highly valued ‘soft skills’ employers are always banging on about is time well spent. These skills include adaptability, analytical thinking, teamwork and creativity.
Another highly sought-after skill, which is relevant across all sectors, is communication. Defined as transferring information to produce greater understanding, communication can occur verbally, in a written format, visually or non-verbally.
Mastering these various forms of communication is vital for a successful career! So, how can you improve and cultivate your communication skills? Here are some pointers to look out for:
Be an active listener
Listen, listen, and listen. People want to know that they’re being heard – at that moment, they should feel like the most important person in your life. Formulate your answer once they have finished speaking and ask for clarification to avoid misunderstandings.
Another important point is to have one conversation at a time. If you’re speaking to someone on the phone, don’t respond to an email, or send a text at the same time. The other person will know they don’t have your undivided attention.
Be brief and specific
For written and verbal communication, practice being brief and specific while providing enough information for the recipient to understand what you are trying to say. If you are responding to an email, make sure that you read the entire message before crafting your response. With enough practice, you will learn not to ramble or give way too much information.
Be aware of your body language
It’s important to practice good body language, use eye contact, utilise hand gestures, and note your tone of voice when communicating with others. A relaxed stance with a friendly tone will make you seem approachable.
Eye contact is important in communication – looking a person in the eye indicates that you’re focused on the conversation. On the other hand, be sure to not stare at the person as you might come across as too intense!
Acknowledging others and what they have to say is an important aspect of communication. Being respectful can be as simple as paying attention, using the person’s name, and not being distracted. By demonstrating respect, the other person will feel appreciated, which can lead to a more honest and productive conversation.
Check your message before you hit send
If you’re communicating in writing, be sure to check your spelling and grammar. While spell checkers are lifesavers, they are not foolproof. Double check what you have written to make sure that your words are clearly communicating your intended message.
The good news is, communicating effectively is a learnable skill. Following the above suggestions will have you beginning to communicate like a pro.
Best of luck with the semester ahead, and reach out to the Careers team if you have any skills development queries.