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Top 5 communication skills and how to improve them

Text messages, emails, social media campaigns – communication in the workplace today takes many forms. However, it’s not about the amount of information managers are sending out to their employees that matters. It’s the way the information is disseminated that makes the biggest impact on staff engagement and motivation.

By improving communication skills, you can improve employee engagement, teamwork, decision-making, interdepartmental communication and problem solving.

In fact, the most in-demand soft skill in business today is the ability to communicate effectively followed by organisational skills team work and then punctuality.

Good communication skills aren’t just for delivering orders. They allow managers to receive and send negative messages without creating frustration and disruption of trust – a must if they want to maintain a good relationship with their staff.

Today, employees expect a lot more from their managers. They want to be informed about the business and its direction, its mission, its successes and its challenges. They want feedback on their own work, and it’s been found that managers who regularly communicate with their staff have greater productivity and less turnover.
Although there are myriad communication skills, these five are fundamental in ensuring the free-flow of information in any business or organisation.

1. Listening
Listening is one of the most important aspects of communication. Successful listening is not just an understanding of spoken or written information, but also understanding how the speaker feels during any form of communication. Careful listening – and reading of messages – can also create an environment where everyone feels safe to express ideas, opinions and feelings, or plan and solve problems in a creative way.

2. Straight talking
Don’t dismiss the power of a simple conversation. Informal chats, friendly banter and general chit-chat builds trust between all employees. Additionally, talking to someone outside the direct business can sometimes lead to a business opportunity.

3. Non-verbal communication
The way you look, listen, create, react, gesture, speaks far more about feelings than words will ever be able to. In practice, more than 90 per cent of our communication is non-verbal. Developing the ability to understand others and use nonverbal signals helps you connect with others, express what you think, meet challenging situations, and build better relationships.

4. Stress management
Constant stress takes its toll on someone’s ability to communicate effectively. It affects clarity of opinion, appropriate behaviour and action. When you are under stress you may misunderstand other people, and send confusing nonverbal signals. Improving stress management skills can help you avoid falling into the trap of letting things get too overwhelming, and as a consequence can influence the behaviour of those around you.

5. Emotion control
Feelings play an important role in communication. If you let your emotions dictate your decision making, it can affect not just your non-verbal communication but also the way in which others understand and perceive the message you’re trying to get across. Controlling your emotions provides you with tools to understand others, yourself and the messages you send.
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