From your peers to your teachers to your employers, interacting with people is something you will do almost every day for your entire life. Knowing how to effectively communicate with a variety of people in a variety of settings can help you succeed in most school and work settings, as long as you have the right skills. The impact of communication skills is far-reaching, so it’s important to hone them. Failing to do so can have a negative impact on your success as a student or an employee.
Effective Communication Skills
Knowing how to communicate doesn’t just mean knowing how to write or the right things to say to get your message across. It goes beyond words to other elements of nonverbal communication, which are often the most important aspects of good communication.
To be an effective communicator, you should be:
- A good listener, able to pay attention to what is being told to you and reflect it back. That means putting down your cell phone and really listening to what the other person is telling you.
- Empathetic, allowing you to understand where another person is coming from without inserting your own judgments or beliefs.
- Compassionate, comfortable connecting with another person through kindness.
- Encouraging, to help others feel appreciated and valued.
- Personable, inviting conversations with others and asking questions to engage them in conversation.
- Articulate, able to put your thoughts and ideas into words or writing.
- Creative, when needed for a job or at school, able to put into renderings, diagrams or other artistic mediums the thoughts and ideas you want to convey.
- Engaged through your body language. That means maintaining eye contact, smiling and encouraging conversation instead of sitting with your arms crossed and looking away.
- Authentic, always true to yourself and open to expressing yourself.
For the biggest impact of communication skills, you should be comfortable with all of these skills. While some of these communication skills may come easier to you than others, they can all be learned, practiced and mastered. When you have these skills mastered, they will help you succeed at work and school.
Why Communication Is So Important
In this era of quick texts, emojis and chat conversations, it’s important to remember that good communication skills mean more than just quickly responding with a thumbs up. In fact, short, terse answers may actually have a negative impact on your success as a student or an employee. Being able to communicate at school and in the workplace may mean the difference between success and failure.
With your peers, communication helps you to engage and find common ground, allowing you to build friendships that not only last a lifetime, but may lead to future employment opportunities. When people have a good impression of you and feel as though they can talk to you and be heard, they are more likely to want to spend social time with you, work on projects with you and even invite you to work at their place of employment.
At school, effective communication helps you learn more from your instructors, get through tests and papers more easily and help you build needed connections. Without good communication skills, you may have a harder time asking questions that can help you to succeed. It may not be obvious to you the ways in which effective communication will help in your transition from school to post-school, but gaining solid communication skills during your school years will make the transition much easier.
In the workplace, knowing how to communicate is essential for succeeding in almost any position. From entry-level jobs to the senior-most executive positions, you need to know how to present yourself, how to problem-solve and how to talk to people at any level of the company. Failing to do so may keep you from getting deserved promotions or collaborating on projects.
The Power of Networking
The ways in which effective communication will help in your transition from school to post-school starts during your job search and will take you all the way through your career. Students and employees should network to increase social, academic and professional connections in order to progress their individual goals. Successful networking means using strong communication skills to meet people, showcase your skills and follow up with job leads.
Communication helps broaden your reach by building contacts with individuals relevant to your school or workplace. Emails, phone calls, private conversations and traditional letters can help you arrange internships, receive grant money for research, be invited to speak at a trade conference or shadow a company leader for the day.
Having a multi-layered resume containing extras, such as internships, volunteer stints, trainings and speaking engagements adds to your credentials, increasing the chances of success. Opting out of networking and choosing not to strengthen your communication skills can have a negative impact on your success as a student or an employee, causing a lot of missed job opportunities and growth.
The Impact of Communication Skills
It may not always be apparent how effective communication will help you in your transition from school to post-school life. But the impact of communication skills can be seen in how you present yourself to others and your career path.
With strong communications skills, you can learn:
- How to be persuasive, which can help you get the job you want, get that raise you deserve or get a contract or business deal made.
- The benefits of being polite, even if you have to take a hard line or deal with a difficult person.
- How to have challenging conversations with others.
- That how you present yourself through your words, whether in writing or speaking, reflects on you as a person and how capable you are.
- Good problem-solving skills and the ability to ask relevant questions to get the answers you need.
- How to listen and be heard.
All of these things can help make you feel more confident and competent, which can, in turn, make you more successful at school and in the workplace.
Getting Started on Effective Communication
Since how you communicate in school reflects how you will communicate in the workforce, it’s good to start building these skills at a young age. Learning good spelling and grammar, how to write impactful emails and reports, giving presentations and working on group projects all have a positive impact on your communication skills in the long term.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you can record yourself having a conversation with someone to see where your strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to communicating. Maybe you’ll realize you cut people off before they finish their sentence or tend to fidget a lot when another person speaks, both things that may turn people off from wanting to engage with you. That will give you insight into ways you can strengthen your skills.
You can also find opportunities in person or online to attend workshops or participate in exercises that increase your communication skills and help you become a good team player. If you are still in school, there may even be classes you can take to boost your communication skills, such as interpersonal effectiveness and public speaking. With these skills in your back pocket, the ways in which effective communication will help in your transition from school to post-school are endless.