The ability to converse in a language, particularly in English while talking in the Indian context, is far from the ability to communicate.
While the former is mere exchange of words, the latter implies the use of social & language skills to effectively convey ideas and instructions. And that is where communication skills come in.
Lack of communication is a big problem for any workplace. Just look at the story of how Nokia lost the battle against the emergence of smartphones, and failed to reap the benefits of riding the technological wave. All this, just because of their inability to have focused communication regarding changing market opportunities.
This article reveals, “Nokia is losing ground despite spending $40 billion on research and development over the past decade—nearly four times what Apple spent in the same period. And Nokia clearly saw where the industry it dominated was heading. But its research effort was fragmented by internal rivalries and disconnected from the operations that actually brought phones to market.”
Why communication skills are important in the workplace:
To succeed in today's competitive marketplace, people need more than knowledge and technical skills. The ability to communicate effectively is an essential ingredient in the development of a well rounded person with a potentially successful career.
1) Helps with collaboration
In any organization, when collaborative teamwork becomes an increasing requirement, the ability to communicate well is one of the most important skills that get tapped upon.
For e.g. When any team with members from diverse backgrounds is required to work together, the need for effective communication skills becomes paramount. This is because it gives a motivating environment to the workers to express their ideas and concerns without inhibitions, resulting in an output which is more effective.
2) Helps Understand the requirements of a job
Whether it be in a formal or informal setting, the ability to explain clearly what is expected from a candidate in terms of duties & responsibilities, time-frame and other expectations thus helps the job-seeker understand what needs to be done to successfully complete any task.
3) Improves quality of work/ life
Being able to understand and explain the work, not just to its purpose but also why it is important, helps a person making decisions & plans become more aware of their actions and take better calculated actions. Just how well can you explain a complex concept or technicalities to a colleague or client who has no idea about your industry's jargon and is lacking technical prowess?
4) Helps with conflict resolution
When an individual is able to understand the viewpoints of others and communicate back effectively, it becomes easier to resolve conflicts.
For e.g. Suppose you are having a hard time understanding the vagueness of some instructions your team leader gave you. If, in this case, proper communication channels are followed then there must be an email trail or even a meeting with the team leader to take it up and be able to resolve it. But if you handled matters the way most people do, you'd simply shrug off the ambiguity and carry on meanwhile, leading to more such conflicts in the future.
It seems that recruiters and employers understand the importance of communication. As data from this LinkedIn article reveals that communication skills top the list of in-demand soft skills.
How to leverage communication skills in front of recruiters
Communication is not just about speaking and listening. Communication in the workplace, and in life in general, includes several other facets. If you can leverage those to your advantage then you can surely make a good impression in front of recruiters:
1) Non-verbal communication
Before we look at how communication works, it is important to understand that non-verbal communication happens before words are spoken. This is called body language. There are several other ways to communicate without using speech or even words. These include: touching, facial expressions, hand gestures etc.
Eye contact, if any, and body posture are easily noticed. Swaying shoulders & arms tell the recruiter that the candidate is nervous or anxious about the situation. In this case, you could leverage your non-verbal communication skills and relax your body, maintain eye contact, and use gestures to emphasize your points.
2) Clarity and Conciseness
Clarity and conciseness are vital to communicating effectively. By clarity, we mean that your messages must be clear so as to not leave any room for misunderstanding. By conciseness, or cutting down your message to one or two key points, it will make it easier for others to process your information.
For e.g. Saying 'I don't know....I guess I'll find time to work on this project. And even though I like working on such projects, it's just that sometimes it can get...' sounds passive aggressive and hasty. Instead, you could say, 'I appreciate your offer to work on this project. I'll let you know when I can start tomorrow.' The choice of words is important.
The tone that you choose to talk in is something that you must be aware of, as things like pitch, voice, volume, and rhythm can just as easily give a negative connotation to your speech.
For e.g. a high-pitched, excited tone can be seen as childish, while a sarcastic and abrupt tone can come across as rude and arrogant.
4) Show Confidence
Confidence really is contagious and can help you communicate effectively with others. If you are confident, people will be more likely to listen to you. And if they are listening, they will be more likely to trust what you say.
For example, you can leverage your speaking skills to convince your interviewer that you are the perfect candidate for a job.
How to work on your communication skills?
Communication is as much an art as it is a science.
Business Author Brian Tracy says, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”
So that means with time and practice, communication skills can be learnt. Here’s some tips which will help your communication skills:
When you read, you are more likely to pay attention to how words are formulated and how to speak so that people will hear and write so that people will read. Reading is also a great way to improve your vocabulary.
Listening is a three-way process:
verbalizing what you hear,
listening with your ears, and
understanding with your mind.
Listening truly helps improve communication skills because it helps you understand others better and even see things from their perspective.
Participating in Group Discussions
Group discussions will give you the opportunity to speak, listen, and write with others. You'll also get to practice your skills in a low-pressure environment, so that when the time comes to face recruiters or employers, you'll have more confidence.
Improving your Communication Styles
This can be done by watching movies , having dinner with friends, and even picking up the habits of people in your social circle who have a unique command over how they effectively communicate.