Stellar communication skills are the number one thing employers are looking for in recent grads. But communicating well is critical for employees of all ages, especially those interested in further developing their personal brand. Here’s why improving your communication skills is so important:
How you say something is often more important than what you’re actually saying
Imagine you’re giving feedback to a team member. Two managers could have the same thing to say, but one says it in a way that keeps the employee’s spirits high, while the other’s approach leaves the employee with a deep sense of disappointment. Which manager will be seen as a more effective leader? Which will be more likely to successfully motivate his/her team? What do you think happens to each manager’s personal brand as a result? The impact of your communication skills can make or break you.
Packaging is persuasive
Think about what draws you to one product vs another when shopping. It’s critical to think of your communication technique as the packaging you present your ideas and thoughts in.
Now, here’s the plus side. The more confident you become when communicating, the more likely you’ll be to speak up in situations where it truly matters. It can be daunting to speak up because you’re afraid your ideas won’t come across the right way. This only holds you back from being seen as an innovator. Offering a critical viewpoint in a meeting gives upper management a chance to see what you’re capable of in terms of idea generation and critical thought. This is another opportunity to improve your personal brand.
You’ll feel more empowered
When you’re confident in the way you communicate, you’re already mentally ahead of the game. Even if this confidence isn’t innate, you can improve! Taking a class in persuasion isn’t only meant for trial lawyers. Formal training is a great way to sharpen both your written and verbal communication skills.
Afraid of speaking up altogether? Start out with a public speaking class. As odd as it may sound, an improvisation class can be very helpful in learning how to let go of your inhibition and become more comfortable speaking up when it counts.
You’ll be more in control of your messaging
With so much of our communication being facilitated by electronic devices, it’s easy for tone to be misinterpreted. People read other people’s words but project their own emotions on to them. Giving critical feedback in an email can be particularly tricky territory. Feedback is very personal and can therefore be taken, well, personally. Stressing positives is always a great way to start a communication. For example, phrases like, “I’m not on board with that” or “I’m sure it’s annoying for you but…” can easily be received by the reader as, “you may not like what I’m going to say, but I just have to say it anyway.”
Instead, a more open approach usually works best. Which would you rather hear? “Overall, the video was good, but the lighting is harsh. Can you adjust it? Thanks.” Or…. “I really like the video, the story is spot on! My only concern is that the lighting is harsh in some places. Do you think anything can be done about that?” The best thing you can do before sending an email is to ask yourself not only, “Is this what I want to say?” but more importantly, “How will this be received?”
You’ll be able to take ownership of your miscommunications
Whether you’re working in the stock room or in The Oval Office, taking responsibility for miscommunications will have a big impact on your personal brand. If something you said was taken the wrong way, be proactive about it. This type of misstep can create unnecessary tension between co-workers and actually cause further miscommunication. The result is hurt feelings and a decrease in everyone’s productivity.
Communication affects every aspect of your professional life and your personal brand, from how your ideas are viewed to your relationship with co-workers. This goes for non-verbal communication as well. Keep these skills sharp and the receiver’s point of view top-of-mind to ensure communication success!