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6 Communications Skills That Can Help You Succeed in Any Career

"I have excellent written and verbal communication skills."

Most resumes make that claim because most position postings require it. There is a problem, though.

According to Embrace Possibilities, an online professional development resource, there is a disconnect between "communication skills" and what people — job candidates and employers alike — think the words mean.

"'Communication,' like the words 'mission' and 'vision,' has become a generic term," it says. "All the power and meaning of these words have been lost and people have forgotten the importance of good communication in their lives."

Effective communication requires people to align their perception of events, tasks and goals with one another, clarify and confirm the meaning of the message and attend to one another's responses to ensure differences in perceptions and intent are not adding confusion.

"It's all about building trust," according to Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for Communication "Skills for Effective Business Communication: Efficiency, Collaboration, and Success" course synopsis.

Which Communication Skills Build Trust in Business?

Effective communicators command a set of soft skills that support collaboration through exchanging information among business operations, employees, organizations, supply chain partners, customers and prospects. Those skills include:

  1. Non-verbal communication conveys information through posture, expressions and nonverbal cues. Understanding and being aware of those nonverbal manners/norms is increasingly crucial as workplaces become more diverse and businesses grow more global.
  2. Active listening involves paying close attention to what the speaker says, enabling the listener to ask probing, open-ended questions that clarify and confirm the message and meaning. An active listener also uses a variety of non-verbal cues such as eye contact, leaning in and smiling and nodding to indicate understanding.
  3. Persuasion By understanding their listeners' needs, wants and motivations, compelling speakers shape their messages to align with what the audience — professional superiors, colleagues or customers — expects from a relationship.
  4. Conflict management skills are critical because conflict is unavoidable. Research reported by The Blueprint noted that U.S. workers spend nearly three hours per week dealing with workplace conflict. While some conflict is destructive — to the tune of $359 billion annually in lost productivity — properly managed conflict can reveal underlying problems such as confusion over task responsibilities and lack of resources.
  5. Open-mindedness involves setting aside biases, pre-judgments and self-interest in favor of a willingness to listen to and empathize with another's perspective. Instead of simply aiming to "get a message across," open-minded communicators facilitate productive exchanges of information. Often this is the art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.
  6. Emotional intelligence supports a communicator's ability to recognize emotional triggers, gauge the effect of emotions on personal and professional relationships, and identify ways to manage emotions to avoid damage. According to research published by the Harvard Business School, 90% of top business performers have a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Altogether, the trust developed through effective communication powers teamwork, spurs creativity and innovation, supports positivity among colleagues and strengthens relationships with customers and external partners.

How Do Business Professionals Develop Effective Communication Skills?

A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication Studies, such as the one offered online by Northern Kentucky University (NKU), equips graduates with insights and understanding into the theory and practice of organizational communication, persuasion and public speaking.

Ranked among Forbes magazine's America's Top Colleges, NKU prepares communication graduates for careers in fields ranging from training, advertising and marketing to social media management and fundraising.

Learn more about the Northern Kentucky University online B.A. in Communication Studies program.

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