When considering the skills that are most important in the modern workplace, it might be tempting to think of complex, specific abilities like spreadsheet building, accounting, Six Sigma, or project planning. But managers and employers around the country will be quick to point out that there are major issues with some fundamental skills needed for any employee in any workplace. These include basic customer service, time management, and communication, the subject of this post.
It can be easy to assume that employees in a work setting possess basic communication skills. But even in professional settings, fundamental elements of effective communication may be lacking.
This can lead to costly mistakes and misunderstandings, as well as breakdowns in morale. Here are a few basic elements of effective communication that are critical for any employee to know.
The Fine Art of Listening
Communication is a two-way street, and listening is half the battle when it comes to effective communication. A great skill to practice is active listening, says Alison Doyle, a job search expert for The Balance Careers.
“Active listening involves paying close attention to what the other person is saying, asking clarifying questions, and rephrasing what the person says to ensure understanding (‘So, what you’re saying is …’),” she says.
Sending the Right Message
It’s always possible for the recipient of a message to misinterpret what is intended, and it’s ultimately the responsibility of the person sending the message to ensure it’s received properly.
“The message is the vehicle for the sender to share feelings, thoughts, and ideas,” says Aaron Karmin, a contributor to PsychCentral. “It is the way the sender’s mental images are transmitted to the receiver. Messages can travel in a variety of ways, including spoken, written, or behavioral. The message may be immediately clear and understood, or murky and misleading, based on how well all of the components in the communication process have been considered and accommodated.”
The wrong message might be communicated if it’s delivered in the wrong tone of voice or with the wrong body language. Even the wrong medium can result in a poorly communicated message.
Actively Seeking and Sharing Feedback
Communication is more than just one person talking and another receiving information. It’s also typically more than a statement and a response. It’s an interactive back-and-forth. This is the feedback element of communication. Particularly for complex or difficult messages or concepts, both senders and receivers need to be able to provide and receive and interpret feedback to keep the discussion going.
Effective communication is a skill many may take for granted, but it’s sadly lacking in many workplaces. By focusing on some of the key underlying elements of communication, managers can vastly improve the overall efficiency and atmosphere of their workplaces.