Communication Skills: Introduction
Communication is the act of transferring information from one person or place to another. Communication can be:
- Verbal - using words to express ourselves to other people, either in speech or in writing
- Non-verbal - communicating without words, for example, using gestures, facial expressions, posture, eye contact and other forms of what is also known as body language
- Visual - using images, symbols, diagrams etc
In addition, listening is considered by many to be another - and very important - form of communication.
The purpose of communication is to understand and to be understood, and it involves expressing thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Interpersonal communication - communication between people - is a process by which we exchange information through verbal, non-verbal, written and visual messages.
Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills that people need in their personal and work lives. If you do a web search for the skills that employers look for, regardless of the jobs, then you'll see that communications skills underpin many of the desired skills. For example, here are the top 10 skills wanted as revealed in a 2013 survey of US employers by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE):
- Ability to work in a team
- Ability to make decisions and solve problems
- Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
- Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
- Ability to obtain and process information
- Ability to analyse quantitative data
- Technical knowledge related to the job
- Proficiency with computer software programs
- Ability to create and/or edit written reports
- Ability to sell and influence others
Four of the 10 skills, including the most important - team working - requite good communication skills. You can't work well in a team unless you can communicate with your teammates. In most jobs, you will be talking to other people: colleagues, customers (members of the public and/or other people from other companies) and good verbal communications skills are essential to succeed You may have to write emails or reports, for which you'll need to be able to write clearly. Finally, you can't influence others without being able to communicate.
This section is intended to provide some tips and suggestions for improving your communications skills. There are pages covering:
- verbal communication
- nonverbal communication
- effective listening
- writing emails
- online behaviour (netiquette)
- links to useful websites and resources
Image: Misinterpretation by XKCD is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.