As part of the IT industry, the one fact that I am acutely aware of is that there never will be a time you can stop learning. There always is the next version or the latest update that you need to be at least aware of, if not master it and the learning never stops. I am sure that this might apply to every other line of working too.
However what is the one skill that is common across every line of work, a skill so crucial that it is often assumed that a job candidate should possess it? Communication.
Communication skill is needed in almost any field that I can think of. Lately I see that there is a lot of emphasis being place on communication skills.
However communication skill does not only mean being able to speak fluently. All the course material and online brochures are often accompanied by a person speaking either in headset or in front of people.
Excellent communications skills does not mean being able to speak fluently, what is the point of being able to speak fluent English when you are in Poland trying to buy potato fries for a lady of Turkish origin?
In its essence communication is transfer of information. Effective communication happens when information is transferred without loss or distortion from one destination to another.
However too much emphasis is place only on transmitting the information [effective speaking, effective writing, business writing skills] however reception is as important as transmission.
A common misconception is that taking a course [whether online or in person] will make you an effective communicator. This would be equivalent to being martial arts experts after a weekend of martial arts movie marathon. It is a skill that needs to be practiced and perfected over time.
As I stated earlier a lot of emphasis is placed on information transmission and not enough on reception.
Listening is not the same as hearing just as noise is not the same as music. Effective listening means being able to interpret and understand information accurately. Without actually listening the transmitter can get easily frustrated and it can also lead to misunderstanding or breakdown of communication process. Corporations spend thousands of dollars on surveys and feedbacks as a means to improve their service. To be able to improve from feedback you need to be an effective listener. A thumb rule that I strive to follow is when in a conversation try to respond, not react.
“It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”, ever heard this?
Non verbal communication or body language is just as important especially during verbal communication. To a keen observer, body language of a person conveys gives away crucial information.I have always been intrigued with the ticket checkers at the train platform. From my observation I’d say that 9 out of 10 people they stop turn out to be travelling without ticket.
A friend of mine told me that when she is out bargain shopping, she always tries to hide her excitement or happiness about finding something that she really liked. Her logic behind this habit is that if she smiles or shows her excitement the trader is less likely agree to a lower price because he knows that from your excitement that you really want to buy it.
A poker player knows the importance of tell. A good speaker should also know how to be a good listener [of the body language] of his audience. An audience is anyone you are speaking too and not just a room full of people.
Sometimes our body language conveys information involuntary. Strong emotions like anger or happiness are easily perceptible.It’s not what you say but also how you say it that is important.