I cannot stress enough on the importance of communication skills in the corporate world. There are volumes written on it. Since the A2Z of Professional Life series is about my learning and what I ought to have known in the early years of my career, I will focus on that.
If you are doing a white collared job, communication will be a big part of your day. You will be writing emails, submitting reports, preparing documents, be a part of audio conferences, meetings, video conferences and the like. Some of these like emails and meetings I would want to cover individually. As for the rest, let me share my learning with you.
- Whenever you communicate, always keep your target audience in mind. I have been in countless meetings where a technically proficient individual uses so much jargon that others are unable to follow. It becomes second nature for us to use jargon when we are surrounded with people of similar skills. Challenge arises when we move out of that circle and interact with a wider audience. I try and observe the reactions of my audience. If I feel like there is too much jargon, I start using a simplified language. In case that is not possible, I clarify what the jargon means several times in my communication. This works for a face to face conversation. In a written conversation, I try and clarify jargon right at the beginning.
- No matter what your level is, lack of good communication skills can be a hindrance to your growth. I have tried to learn from people whose communication skills I admire. Picking up correct diction and trying to acquire a neutral accent goes a long way in improving your communication skills.
- Reading helps. A LOT! I mostly read fiction. I owe a lot of my vocabulary to the books I read. Every well written book reinforces the grammar we learnt back in school and teaches you a new word or two 🙂
- Slang, SMS lingo and riting lyk dis 4 wrk is a big no-no. You have to ensure that your written communication is error free. Thank God for tools with spell check and grammar check. Software industries created these tools for a reason. Your organisation invested in them for a reason. Use them!
- Learn non verbal communication. Try and observe how people physically respond to your communication. This is more important when you have regular face to face interactions. Be it dealing with clients, vendors or people in your own organisation. The non verbal cues will give you insights on how the person is taking your message. The next big step would be to cultivate the ability to control your own non verbal communication. This is especially important when you get to positions of responsibility and people look to you in a crisis!