According to a 2016 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, good communication skills are ranked first among a job candidate’s must-have skills and qualities.
Developing your communication skills will help all aspects of your life, from your professional life to social gatherings, and everything in between.
Professionally, if you are applying for jobs, or looking for a promotion with your current employer, you will certainly need to demonstrate good communication skills.
Here are some suggestions that will assist you in successfully communicating with those you want to impress:
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Verbal communication involves not only what we say, but how we say it.
Appropriate vocabulary is critically important. Using sub-standard English can destroy a job interview faster than almost anything else. On the other hand, using words that are beyond the average person’s vocabulary level will not impress the listener.
It is important to speak at a rate that is easily understood. The majority of people in the U.S and other countries speak too rapidly. The average speaker speaks at a rate between 170 to 180 words per minute or beyond, which is much too fast for the central nervous system to process accurately.
Speaking at a rate of around 124 words per minute – the Mr. Fred Rogers rate, and that of now retired news broadcaster Tom Brokaw – is understood with greatest efficiency. And, it will certainly impress those who may be interviewing you and your customers.
Slowing your speaking rate results in speech that our central nervous system can process most efficiently, but also you, the speaker, will have a tendency to speak with greater clarity.
Your nonverbal mode of communication, including your nonverbal signals (a downward or side glance, a glance at your watch, a frown), your use of gestures, facial expression, body language (posture, feet shuffling, slouching, arms folded in front of you), tone of voice and your appearance can communicate even more than the words that you use.
Standing or sitting comfortably, hands in front of you, good eye contact, an occasional nod of the head denoting that we understand what the other person is saying are all important.
Good listening skills are critical to good communication.
When we communicate, we should plan on spending around 45 percent of our time listening.
Effective listening is a skill that too many people have not mastered. It goes much beyond simply “hearing.” It involves active involvement in what the other person is saying to us.
Indicators of good listening include being attentive, using good eye contact (not looking into their eyes because that is much too intimate, but rather at their face), and asking appropriate questions for clarification.
By personal skills, I mean those things that cause the other person to know that you not only care about her or him, but also about yourself.
That involves feeling positive about yourself, your manner of dress and grooming, personal cleanliness and general hygiene.
These are all considered under the realm of good communication that can lead to a level of success that we desire in business and life, and help establish us as a successful professional, no matter what our field of endeavor.
Ray Hull is a professor of communication sciences and disorders at Wichita State University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in writing for “Business Perspectives”? Contact Tom Shine at email@example.com or 316-268-6268.