Leadership at Work: 3 Ways to Sharpen Your Communication Skills

These steps will help you enhance dialogue and listening skills

(Image: Thinkstock)
(Image: Thinkstock)

Have you struggled with having less-than-ideal communication skills at work? If so, you’re not alone. The great thing, however, is that you can make the decision to become better. In a recent Washington Post article, interim director of Georgetown’s Writing Center and assistant professor David Lipscomb said, “You can make it to a certain level without having great communication skills. But you certainly cannot make it to top management without being a good communicator.” If climbing the ranks is a long-term goal, then dig deep and prepare to enhance your communications skills using easy and accessible strategies at your disposal.

Here are three proven strategies that you can utilize immediately:

1. Get targeted training.

No one becomes a better communicator without first putting in the effort to develop advanced communication skills. Becoming better requires focusing on your blind spots and finding someone who can help you to improve them. Begin by asking yourself critical questions.

Where are your communication blind spots? What kinds of specific skills are needed to help you advance your professional positioning? How would you strategically use these skills at work? Is this training that your employer could pay for to support your goals? Many people begin this process by joining Toastmasters International, others by watching relevant YouTube videos (such as Ted Talks ), or harnessing the expert advice of forerunners in insight papers or books.

2. Practice.

Even with excellent training, if you don’t practice what you’ve learned, you’ve done yourself a serious disservice. Allocate time to practice the communication skills that will help you to become competitive and add value.

Don’t skimp. By practicing, you assure that the fruits of your labor will produce results sooner than later. You also build the confidence and momentum needed to competently advance your long-term career goals. Consider how you can integrate “all things communication.” Determine how you can use meetings, negotiations, and presentations to practice your communication skills and showcase your ability to seal to deal. If Winston Churchill practiced one hour for every minute that he spoke, you can certainly find a happy medium on your road to excellence.

3. Become a better listener.

People don’t often think about listening as a critical component of communication, but it is. The ability to take in the ideas of others, analyze and synthesize them, as well as reflect them back is, indeed, a skill. It also helps you to establish trust, develop rapport, interpret information and ultimately become a better, more charismatic communicator. Active/ reflective listening is essential to enhancing your communication skills because it helps you to become vested in the conversation and demonstrate your commitment to the needs of the speaker. Once that occurs, the listener enjoys the benefit of reciprocity and the speaker then becomes the listener. It’s a beautiful exchange rooted in the need to connect. When understood this way, becoming an excellent communicator is simply an earshot away.

Utilizing these three strategies can help you to immediately begin the process of becoming a better communicator at work. Don’t put this off. Develop a personalized strategy that works for you and watch your career take fight.

To your success!

Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.

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