George Bernard Shaw said: “The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.” Every professional job today demands good communication skills, but what are they?
When the professional world talks about communication skills, it isn’t just referring to verbal communication, but to four primary skills and four supportive communication skills.
The primary communication skills are:
- Verbal skills—what you say and how you say it.
- Listening skills—listening to understand, rather than just waiting your turn to talk.
- Writing skills—clear written communication creates a lasting impression of who you are and is essential for success in any professional career.
- Technological communication skills—your ability to evaluate the protocols, strengths, and weaknesses of alternative communication media, and then choose the medium appropriate to your audience and message.
The four supportive communication skills are:
- Grooming and dress—these tell others who you are and how you feel about yourself.
- Social graces—how you behave toward others in all situations; this defines your professionalism.
- Body language—this displays how you’re feeling deep inside, a form of communication that predates speech. For truly effective communication, what your mouth says must be in harmony with what your body says.
- Emotional IQ—your emotional self-awareness, your maturity in dealing with others in the full range of human interaction.
All these are transferable skills and they are interconnected—for example, good verbal skills require both listening and critical thinking skills to accurately process incoming information. They enable you to present your outgoing verbal messaging persuasively in light of the interests and sophistication of your audience so that it is understood and accepted. Develop effective skills in all eight of the subsets that together comprise communication skills and you’ll gain enormous control over what you can achieve, how you are perceived, and what happens in your life.
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