As technology continues to transform how we communicate, it’s easy to become too reliant on digital platforms when we interact with others. Although email and instant messaging make it easy to respond to questions and requests, the lack of in-person interaction can result in your communication skills weakening over time. “Technology is helpful and enables us to do a million things we never have before,” says Jodi Glickman, the CEO and Founder of Great On The Job. “However, I don’t think we are ever going to lose the importance of live, face-to-face conversations.”
Being a strong communicator is integral to long-term success, so it’s important to take stock of your current communication habits. Not knowing the appropriate way to respond in different circumstances can lead to confusion and a decrease in productivity. While a few blips in communication may not seem like a big deal at first, they can ultimately hold you back from getting your message across. However, actively working on improving these three areas can allow you to strengthen your communication skills for the future:
When was the last time you were in a meeting where you paid more attention to your phone than who was speaking? Not only is this unprofessional, but it’s also detrimental to productivity. As a result, you might find yourself asking follow-up questions that were already addressed in the meeting or missing out on important dates and deadlines. Active listening ensures you understand the intended goal of a meeting or conversation, and that you have the tools you need to accomplish tasks. To demonstrate your strong active listening skills, be sure to make regular eye contact, take notes during a meeting, and ask questions to address any follow-up questions you may have.
Your body language
It’s important to remember that nonverbal cues can sometimes speak much louder than words. With this in mind, you’ll want to be aware of how your body language and behavior can affect your ability to get your message across. In order to convey positive body language that demonstrates your engagement in a discussion and your strong communication skills, be sure to pay special attention to your posture, avoid crossing your arms, and use hand gestures that show you are invested in the conversation you’re having.
Whether it be in a meeting, one-on-one conversation, or even an email, the ability to be succinct when getting your point across is a testament to having good communication skills. If you aren’t concise during that first interaction, you run the risk of being misunderstood and not getting the end result you want. To avoid this, it’s important to be direct in your message. For example, using a phrase such as ‘I am looking for X because…’ will make your intentions clear, as opposed to launching into a long-winded explanation as to why achieving a certain goal is valuable.