The Importance of Communication Skills

September 24, 2017 - DOM BARNARD

Developing communication skills can help many aspects of your life, from your professional career, to social gatherings, to your family life.

In today's hectic world, we rely heavily on sharing information, resulting in greater emphasis being placed on having good communication skills. Good verbal and written communication skills are essential in order to deliver and understand information quickly and accurately. Being able to communicate effectively is a vital life skill and should not be overlooked.

In contrast, poor communication skills can have a negative impact - a poorly delivered message may result in misunderstanding, frustration and in some cases disaster.

Communication can be defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning. To communicate well is to understand, and be understood. This can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Verbally - your voice
  • Visually - e.g. images, graphs, maps, infographics
  • Non-verbally - e.g. body language, eye contact, gestures
  • Written – e.g. books, websites, emails

Listening is an important part of communication

Being able to actively listen is an important communication skill. It’s easily overlooked, as people tend to focus more on what they want to say, rather than listening to what the other person is saying.

Knowing when to pause to allow the other person to talk is an important skill. It conveys respect and a willingness to hear the other person’s point of view.

Active listening skills will help you and your colleagues have more open and useful exchanges, where each contributor’s point of view is expressed and heard. This should lead to a more positive working environment.

Active listening is an important part of communication skills

Active listening is an important part of communication skills.


Importance of communication skills

1. Valued in the workplace

If you are applying for jobs or looking for a promotion with your current employer, you will almost certainly need to demonstrate good communication skills. Communication skills are needed to speak appropriately with a wide variety of people whilst maintaining good eye contact, demonstrate a varied vocabulary and tailor your language to your audience, listen effectively, present your ideas appropriately, write clearly and concisely, and work well in a group. Many of these are essential business skills that employers seek.

Having the ability to listen carefully, speak clearly and put others at ease is valuable in any organisation and can involve a wide range of skills:

  • Listening to others and showing interest in what they say
  • Dealing with telephone conversations appropriately
  • Encouraging interest and interaction from others in your team
  • Expressing an opinion or asking a question clearly
  • Being able to persuade others

2. In demand by businesses

Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top ten desirable skills by employer surveys year after year. Employees are often encouraged to take online courses and in-person training to improve their presentation and communication skills.

Skills potential employers seek:

  • Communication (written and verbal)
  • Organisation
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
In demand soft skills by employees

Communication skills are among the most in-demand skills for employers. Source: LinkedIn research

3. Helps your career progression

You will need to request information, discuss problems, give instructions, work in teams, interact with colleagues and clients. If you are to achieve co-operation and effective teamwork, good human relations skills are essential. Also, as the workplace is also becoming more global, there are many factors to consider if you are to communicate well in such a diverse environment.

Being able to deliver messages clearly and understand other people means work can be completed more effectively and to the benefit of the company as a whole.

Employers want staff who can think for themselves, use initiative and solve problems, staff who are interested in the long-term success of the company. If you are to be seen as a valued member of the organisation, it is important not just to be able to do your job well, but also to communicate your thoughts on how the processes and products or services can be improved.

4. Allows you to speak concisely

It is natural to feel some nerves when speaking to superiors or to clients. Communication skills training will help you learn how best to communicate effectively in a wide range of situations, and how to be direct in order to get the most out of your dealings with others.

5. Builds better rapport with customers

Customers desire nothing more than to be understood by a company and they wish to feel like they are being heard and listened to. This is a particularly important point if your business involves a large amount of contact with customers, either face-to-face or over the phone.

6. Influences how you learn

Communication skills have played an important part of your existing knowledge and beliefs. You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions and then by expressing your opinions. You learn to write by first learning to read, then by writing and learning to think critically. Good communication skills help you absorb information and express your ideas in a clear, concise and meaningful way to other people.

7. Enhances your professional image

You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, instructors, and employer. They all want you to convey a positive image, as it reflects on them. In your career, you will represent your business or company in spoken and written form. Your professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you up for success.

8. Other benefits of effective communication

The most successful organisations understand that if they are to be successful in today’s business world, good communication at all levels is essential. Here is a useful mnemonic to remember the benefits you and your organisation can achieve from effective communication:

  • Stronger decision-making and problem-solving
  • Upturn in productivity
  • Convincing and compelling corporate materials
  • Clearer, more streamlined workflow
  • Sound business relationships
  • Successful response ensured

Read more about these benefits here: Why Are Communication Skills Important?


Methods of communication

  • Verbal communication is delivered and received face to face, by phone, radio, computer, television and other media.
  • Non-verbal communication is delivered and received through body language, eye contact, gestures, and how we dress or behave.
  • Visual communication is delivered and received via charts, maps, images and graphs.
  • Written communication is delivered and received through printed or digital media such as letters, e-mails, books, magazines, and the internet.

Read more about these methods here: Methods of Communication

Methods of communication including verbal and non-verbal communication

Verbal communication

When we communicate verbally, it involves not only speaking, but also requires non-verbal communication skills – listening, eye contact and body language. Mispronunciations, insufficient language skills, or struggling with the diction can greatly hamper a person’s ability to get their message across.

Also, delivering too much information can be as counter-productive as delivering too little. How we communicate is dependent on the context of the situation too. A different approach is needed for different situations in order for the information to be meaningful to the listener.

Non-verbal communication

Body language needs to be in line with the verbal content. When used effectively, facial expressions, gestures and posture can greatly improve the listener’s understanding of the verbal information being presented. It can also add interest, and help to maintain the listener’s concentration.

Eye contact between speaker and listener is important too. If a speaker actively seeks out eye contact when talking, he or she is judged to be more believable, confident and competent. However, too much eye contact can make the listener feel uncomfortable, or think the speaker rude, hostile and condescending; and too little eye contact can make the listener think that the speaker is uneasy, unsure or insincere.

How much eye contact is considered appropriate though will always depend on the situation, the setting, cultural expectations, gender, and personality types.

Your body posture, hand gestures and eye contact all express a meaning, often saying much more than the words you speak. For instance, standing or sitting with your arms and legs relaxed and open will convey a friendly impression that will invite others to interact with you.


Conclusion

The ability to communicate effectively with clients, colleagues and managers is essential, whatever sector you work in. Good communication improves teams, inspires high performance and enhances the workplace culture. Just remember, communication is a two-way process, so take notice of other people's verbal and nonverbal signals as well as your own.

By teaching yourself how to communicate more effectively, you’ll interact in a more constructive and productive manner, making the workplace a positive and thriving environment.

Summary of benefits

  • Highly valued in the workplace
  • Helps your career progression
  • Allows you to speak concisely
  • Build better rapport with customers
  • Enhances your professional image
  • Highly skilled communicators make more money
  • Good communicators have higher self-esteem
  • Most important skill For people entering the workforce
  • Communication is among the top traits of successful entrepreneurs
  • Effective communication skills aid in development of leadership skills
  • Gives you the tools to participate in society

Read these tips in more detail: The Importance of Communication Skills [Top 10 Studies]