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Communication skills you should develop to succeed at work

Communicating is a key to every aspect of life, not least at work where expressing what you want in a way that's well received and taken on board is important for both you as an individual and the performance of the wider business. It is just as important for someone starting out in their career as someone in senior management.

Get communication wrong and you can ruin relationships, cause misunderstanding, frustration and potentially scupper your chances of getting noticed and getting ahead. If you have trouble in this area, or even if you don't (you might do and not even realise!) taking a conscious decision to improve the all-important art of giving and receiving of information, will definitely contribute to success at work and in all aspects of your life.

Key communication skills:

Know what you want to say and why: Understand clearly the purpose and intent of your message, who you're delivering too (gender, age, position within the company) and ask yourself what outcome you want to achieve or what impression you want to leave.

Think about your delivery: It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it. Make eye contact, be aware of your body language; crossed arms suggest you are closed and unapproachable. Good posture and a relaxed demeanour will help even the most difficult of exchanges flow more successfully.

Don't be emotional: If the message you're trying to convey is difficult or very important to you it can be hard not to let emotion get in the way. Waiting until you feel calm enough to maintain your control is key, if you lose objectivity you may say something inappropriate or regrettable.

Listen: Once you've said your piece, listen to the response. Don't interrupt, even if you feel someone's missed your point. Wait until they've finished completely before you respond. When they are finished, to ensure that your message has been clearly and correctly understood, ask open questions and encourage discussion. Fine-tune your message if necessary.

Do you all understand? Everyone doesn't always have to agree with you - that's dictating rather than equal communication - but it's important they understand what you were trying to say. Have you reached common ground, solved a problem, or clarified your position? If the purpose was to teach or instruct, have you accomplished your goal? Alleviate any questions of concerns and if necessary, agree to disagree. To communicate well is to understand and be understood, so if both parties feel their point has been heard and taken on-board the exchange can be deemed successful, even if the outcome isn't quite what you wanted.

Be open minded: Understanding and appreciating opposing points of view by being open-minded and making an effort to see things from another's perspective, is key to being a good communicator. If colleagues feel you are approachable and flexible, you will gain more cooperation.

Good communication is essential for every aspect of your life; don't take it for granted, it's a skill that can be learned and fine-tuned. Get communication right, and you will open yourself up to better relationships, more career opportunities and increased self-confidence.


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