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The Cambridge English Dictionary defines soft skills as “the ability to communicate with each other and work well together.” Understanding how to be more effective communicators in the workplace is important.

The United States Department of Labor lists communication as one of the top soft skills. Employers are looking for people who demonstrate effective communication skills. Effective communication can lead to more productivity.

Following are 10 tips for effective communication.

1. Learn Good Verbal Communication

  • Make sure your message is clear and concise.
  • Be aware of your tone of voice.
  • Understand that language and the use of wording can change the meaning of a message.
  • Clearly state expectations.

2. Be an Active Listener

  • Pay attention to the person talking.
  • Focus on the message.
  • Understand the message.
  • Summarize what you heard.

3. Watch Your Nonverbal Communication

  • Be mindful of facial expressions.
  • Recognize what your body language is communicating.
  • Practice good posture.
  • Use direct eye contact

4. Write Clearly

  • Write a clear and concise message.
  • Do not use abbreviations.
  • Read from the reader’s point of view.
  • Clearly write expectations.

5. Make Your Message Visually Appealing

  • Pay attention to the messages around you.
  • Understand the meanings of signs, symbols, and pictures.
  • Train employees and colleagues to understand visual messages.
  • Make visual messages clear and appealing to the eye.

6. Be Open-Minded

  • Be willing to consider others’ opinions and ideas.
  • Respect others and their strengths.
  • Include all team members.
  • Be open to changing your mind.

7. Manage Stress

  • Pay attention to your triggers.
  • Actively monitor your stress levels.
  • Practice stress management strategies.
    • Meditate or pray.
    • Exercise.
    • Eat healthy.
    • Talk to a counselor.
  • Learn emotional awareness.
    • Identify when you are frustrated or angry.
    • Understand what controls your emotions.
    • Know the negative impact that emotions can have on communication.
  • Practice good time management.
    • Set goals.
    • Prioritize.
    • Organize.
    • Take breaks.

8. Know Communication Styles

  • Seek communication assessments.
  • Understand how you communicate.
  • Identify how others communicate.
  • Learn how to better communicate with other

9. Actively Engage

  • Look for ways to engage in different types of communication.
  • Seek opportunities to improve your skills.
  • Learn to receive and send information accurately and quickly.
  • Show respect and appreciation to others.

10. Practice Effective Communication

  • Role-play scenarios using clear communication.
  • Practice giving clear instructions.
  • Sum up a message to improve listening skills.
  • Continue to improve communication skills

Understanding barriers to effective communication is also important. People’s attitudes and feelings can get in the way of effective communication. Everyone has difficult days, and it’s important to understand that experiences can cause distractions. Those distractions can limit understanding and attention to messages. Maintaining focus can be difficult when you are in the middle of a bad day. Practice refocusing when this happens. Also, don’t forget that others have bad days too when it is hard to focus. Offering grace during these times can help build workplace relationships and a level of respect. Backgrounds and experiences influence how we send and receive messages.

Be intentional about improving your communication skills. Reference these 10 tips as reminders of how to improve your skills and become a more effective communicator. Identify when communication barriers arise and what you can do to break down those barriers. Set a goal to improve your communication skills and make a plan. Today is a great day to start!

Alabama Extension provides educational opportunities to help empower the residents of our state. The Financial Resource Management and Workforce Development Human Sciences team provides research-based educational classes on soft skills, job search preparation, and financial literacy. Contact your county Extension office for more information on these educational opportunities or visit www.aces.edu. Information can also be requested at aceshse@auburn.edu or (334) 844-7560.

 


Peer ReviewEmily Hines, Human Sciences Regional Extension Agent, Financial Resource Management and Workforce Development, Auburn University

New November 2021, 10 Tips for Communication in the Workplace, FCS-2602

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