Sharpening Communication Skills Can Have Big Impact on Your Career
I’m pretty stoked. This Friday, I’ll be attending Kansas City International Association of Business Communicators’ annual Business Communicators Summit. This is going to be a day full of networking, keynote speakers (including Grantham University's sponsored speaker, Brent Gleeson, a former Navy SEAL), breakout sessions and other learning opportunities.
You might think I’m only excited since my job is in communications, but anyone who works in the business world - and, for example, college students pursuing an online business degree - should be excited to attend an event like this. Why? Because in order to be a rock star professional (and in many instances, succeed in the virtual classroom), you need to be an effective communicator. Let me explain.
What are two things you do in your job every day? Chances are that your day almost always includes writing emails and participating in discussions (on the phone, in person, with colleagues, with clients, etc.). What do these things have in common? Communication.
Communicating might seem like it’s a pretty simple process. You have been talking since you were itty bitty, after all, but there’s a lot more to it than just talking, typing or writing.
You have to be able to express your thoughts clearly.
If you don’t, your meaning won't be understood correctly, and you’ll end up frustrated a lot.
So how do you make sure you’re understood? One way is to know your communication style. Newline ideas has a quiz to help determine if you’re an aggressive, passive aggressive, passive or assertive communicator. Go ahead and take it. I’ll wait for you.
Now that you’ve taken the quiz (if you haven’t, it’s only 20 easy questions - do it!), you should have a better understanding of how you communicate with others.
If you want to change or improve your style, try these simple tips:
- Know your audience – You should have a general idea of your audience when you communicate. By doing this, you can adapt your message as needed. For example, you wouldn’t talk to a group of engineers who created an elaborate technology device the same way you’d talk to a first-time customer who's not as familiar with the device.
- Body language is key – Make sure you are aware of how you are holding yourself. For example, if you cross your arms, it could look as though you are closing yourself off. The room temperature may just be cold, but perception is everything. Paying attention to this and other non-verbal cues can help you convey the appropriate tone and message.
- Use your ears – In order to effectively communicate, you can’t be the only one with a voice. Instead, during conversation, make sure you’re an active listener. Take notes, make eye contact and ask questions. Much like with understanding your communication style, you need to know what will work best for your listening style.
- KISS (keep it simple, silly) – Your message might not always be a simple one, but try to explain it as clearly as possible. Stephen Hawking, a British author and theoretical physicist, is the ultimate example of this. He can take vastly complex ideas like wormholes and explain them in a way that most people can understand. Channel your inner Hawking when communicating, and you won't go wrong.
Another simple idea is to learn from other communicators. Find opportunities like the Business Communicators Summit (BCS) near you, and attend them. It’s always great to learn from the best and brightest in the business when you have the opportunity.
Psst! Grantham students in the Kansas City area, you should join me Friday at the BCS. Tickets for full-time students are only $50. You can register by visiting here. Make sure you register using your grantham.edu email address to receive the discounted rate. Hope to see you there!
About the author: Lindsey Leesmann, Communications Specialist at Grantham University, received her Bachelor of Science – Print Journalism from Missouri State University, Springfield. Prior to her current role, she served as a student advisor in the Multidisciplinary Studies and master's degree programs.