Are you a good communicator? Or is there room for improvement? If you’ve answered, “Yes!” to the second question, you’re not alone. According to research cited by Jacqui Barrett in her LinkedIn article “The U.S. Is Facing a Critical Skills Shortage, Reskilling Can Be Part of the Solution,” communication skills are the most in-demand skill across 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S. And if you’re a manager, good communication skills are even more critical. They enable you to convey your company’s strategy to your employees, as well as provide them with clear instructions and feedback.
Fortunately, good communication skills can be learned with some patience and practice. Here’s how:
Work on your body language. To communicate effectively, you need to project a confident, open demeanor. Sit or stand straight, avoid folding your arms, and make eye contact.
Practice active listening. Use non-verbal cues like nodding to show you’re engaged. It can also be helpful to repeat the last word of a sentence now and then to show you’re following the other person’s train of thought.
Empathize. Empathy helps you understand someone’s point of view, which can be useful in determining how to navigate a conversation. For example, if you have to ask your supervisor for a new software program for your team, you need to understand that he or she will have to budget for it — and this will only happen if you can demonstrate how it will benefit the company.
Practice your writing skills. As F. John Reh points out the article “Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work” for The Balance, if you can write well, you’ll spend less time clarifying things or repeating yourself. To write well, you’ll need a good grasp of grammar and a solid vocabulary. Reading is a good way to improve your grammar, and you can learn a new word every day by signing up for Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day newsletter.
Leverage software as needed. Sometimes you need a visual aid to get your message across. Programs like Word and PowerPoint can be used to create documents, presentations, and even infographics, as Krysten Godfrey Maddocks advises in her article “6 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills at Work” for Southern New Hampshire University.
Learn how to communicate with different generations. In the multigenerational workplace, it’s important to know how to interact with Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. According to Chad Brooks in his Business News Daily article “Bridge the Gap: Communicating With a Multigenerational Workforce,” Gen Z prefer in-person communications, and Millennials want a collaborative approach to interaction. Gen Xers respond well to receiving instructions, while Baby Boomers are more reserved than the other generations.
Learn a second or third language. Thanks to increased globalization and technological advancements, a growing number of companies are engaging in international partnerships that involve the collaboration of teams from different countries. Mastering a second or third language can help you navigate the complexities of managing multilingual teams.
Brushing up your communication skills might make you step outside of your comfort zone initially, but in the long run, it will be well worth the effort. You’ll be able to interact more effectively with others, and that in turn can benefit your career by making you a better manager.