Do you find conversations with some colleagues more difficult than others? Do you ever come out of meetings feeling that you've been misunderstood, or that you haven't been given the time you needed to express your ideas? Do you ever find it hard to explain yourself to your boss, or to others who are more senior than you? Do you ever find yourself wondering what exactly your boss is asking you to do?
These experiences can occur in all kinds of settings - during teamwork in university and at work placements, as well as in part-time and full-time jobs. If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you may want to improve your communication skills.
What are communication skills?
Communication skills allow you to give and receive information – express ideas and feelings, ask or answer questions, interact with people, explain or understand problems and situations.
Communication skills are important in both formal and informal settings and can help you advance professionally or develop better relations with the people in your life.
Communication could be verbal (spoken or written) and non-verbal (using body language, gestures, etc.). However, in daily life, communication is often a combination of the two, and could be affected by internal factors like emotion, or external factors like the mediums used to communicate, or the surroundings. Thus, an effective communicator must be aware of the situation, understand the audience, and choose the most appropriate channels and tools in order to successfully deliver a message. And although not everyone was born a great communicator, everyone can learn communication skills and techniques to enable them to never feel misunderstood.
How to improve your communication skills?
Being able to communicate effectively is a skill that should not be overlooked. While there are various tips that could be followed, these are the most important ones:
- Choose your message – It is important to know what you want to say. Be brief and to the point but provide enough details in order to avoid misunderstandings. Giving insufficient information is as bad as giving too much information.
- Listen – In today’s busy world, we often have to multitask. Have you ever answered a text while watching a movie? While dividing your attention may seems a good idea, it can lead to mistakes. Instead, try to listen actively. The same applies to reading emails – always stay focused. It is important to never forget that communication is a two-way street.
- Manage your emotions – Never let emotion get the best of you. You may be tempted to answer every email right away, but if you feel angry or annoyed by a certain message, wait to cool off before hitting the send button or you may regret what you have written.
- Non-verbal communication is important – Don’t ignore body language, tone of voice, or other visual signs. This can help to read the person you are communicating with, and more effectively deliver your message. And while you are focused on other people’s body language, you should also monitor your own. Avoiding eye contact, for example, or a thing as small as an inappropriate hand gesture, may expose your nervousness.
These, and other communication tips, can help you become more confident and achieve better results at work. If you think you may need to improve your communication skills further, check Future Learn’s course “Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work”
About the course
The course presents a set of communication strategies for effective workplace collaboration. It is designed to help you identify your personal communications style and it will show the importance of matching this style with your work and project goals. It aims to encourage you to become a more reflective and self-aware language user when communicating in a business environment. By the end of the course, you will be able to engage in challenging conversations and build confidence in using digital technology at work.
The course will be useful for anyone who wants to understand how communication in the workplace has evolved. It will bring value to those aspiring to managerial positions or considering post-graduate study in a business school.
Starting date: Listed in the course description
Duration: 2 weeks, 2 hours per week
Institution: University of Leeds
Educator: Jennifer Rosen
Platform: Future Learn