Many of us grow up thinking that so long as we are good at what we do, nothing else matters. Until – we take up our first jobs and realize that workplaces involve so many more skills. This article is about one such critical skill – Communication.
Communication in the workplace has its own needs – because we’re not participating just for fun (as with our friends). We’re communicating so that we can share project information, clear doubts, understand new things; if you don’t do that well, two things happen – projects get affected and your own reputation is affected. You become the guy (or girl) who doesn’t “think clearly” – never mind that it’s all in your head. That’s why first-time engineers (or other professionals) taking up a job should make sure to get these communication basics right.
Stop the sms lingo
Yes, “how u doin” and “letz meet b4 ur exam” is cool when you are in college, but stop it. NOW. I am surprised at the number of graduates who think it’s alright to use sms lingo when applying for a job over email. Just because you are using email doesn’t mean it is informal. SMS lingo gives bosses (and potential bosses) a very poor impression – that you could not even take the trouble to write ‘before’ instead of ‘b4’.
One of the basics of great communication is being a good listener. Don’t be in a hurry to make your point. If you don’t understand what the problem is, how will you offer a great solution? If your colleagues differ from you on some topic – don’t run then down. Listen to their points carefully and understand them, before you offer your idea.
Our education system teaches us to write badly. We think big words and long sentences sound better. Actually, they just confuse the point. If English is not the medium you’ve used at school, it becomes even more difficult. Using simple language helps you get your point across better, and this is important when a lot of things are communicated by email. Get yourself a book on modern business writing, look up the examples and practise.
Think of your audience
One of the ways to get better at communication, whether verbal or written, is to think of your audience. Less is more – first give people what they really need. By keeping to the point, you also run less risk of making mistakes, if language is not your forte. By being conscious of your audience, you will also avoid overstepping boundaries – remember, your colleagues may be friendly, but they are not your friends.
When writing, it is very easy to end up with a long document, with the important points hidden away at many places. Make it easy for your reader by giving a structure – use bullet points, use headings, club all points related to a topic together. Your readers will thank you for it!
Soft skills such as Communication are not learned at one go nor are they limited to a few select people – with thoughtfulness and practice, anyone can acquire them.
(P:S: This is a guest post by Aparna V. Singh. Aparna is a Communications Consultant who works with small and mid-sized enterprises. More recently, she is the founder of Women’s Web, an online magazine and community for Indian women, that covers career development, finance, health and other relevant issues.)