Good communication is the foundation of all good work. Conveying expectations, exchanging instructions, explaining concepts, brainstorming ideas — all these processes rely on sound communication in order to be effective. It’s a major reason why quality communication skills are among the top traits companies seek in prospective employees.
Effective communication is a multifaceted process, however, and many variables beyond the actual content of the message can affect the way a message is received, including the medium, tone and more. By building awareness of how these factors play into the communication process, professionals can adapt their interactions accordingly.
An online Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies program, such as that at Arkansas State University, arms graduates with research-backed understanding of both the theory and application of strong communication strategies. Students will develop a robust skill set that makes them attractive candidates for a variety of professions. Those skills include critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving, as well as persuasive tactics, conflict resolution and crisis management abilities.
Here’s a broad look at some strategies that make a better communicator. Remember that the importance of different factors will vary depending on the situation, so be sure to assess and decide which areas to prioritize.
Active listening is one of the most straightforward ways to improve communication. This strategy requires not just paying close attention to what a speaker is saying but also following up on what is said as well. Asking clarifying questions and rephrasing/repeating the message back to the speaker are two primary ways to practice being an active listener, according to The Balance Careers online portal. When speakers encounter an active listener, they can have confidence that their message is being correctly received.
Conciseness and Clarity
The structure of your message is crucial to helping your audience absorb it. In a blog post about good communication development, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) argues the importance of a clear presentation: “Presenting ideas in a muddled sequence, or missing out or repeating concepts, could take away from a great idea. Therefore, it’s important to first structure your thoughts and express your point of view as succinctly as possible, in a coherent and sequential flow.”
Confidence and Assertiveness
Believe it or not, the confidence with which you deliver your content also has a major sway over the way it is received. Not only does a strong delivery help capture the audience’s attention, but it helps to convince your audience of your message’s legitimacy. Always be confident and honest, even if being honest means admitting that you are unsure of the answer. The AACSB says confidence can also be reassuring even when you cannot accomplish something: “On the other hand, say ‘no’ when something is not possible. You will win the confidence and loyalty of your customer, or prospective customer, by telling him upfront what your product or service CANNOT deliver.”
Friendliness and Empathy
Friendliness, empathy and respect are crucial underpinnings of any communication exchange, particularly when communicating with people of different cultural backgrounds. This helps to foster an open dialogue where both parties feel welcome and appreciated. Making the effort to understand another person’s point of view can also help you to better understand their ideas and values and improve communications in the future.
Similar to conciseness and clarity, correct grammar helps to ensure that messages are as clear as possible and good ideas are not lost in translation over confusing or misleading language. Whether it’s written or oral communication, reading your message out loud can help highlight areas where language is awkward or unclear.
One of the more underrated elements of being a good communicator is stress management. When we’re stressed, we tend to be less in control of our emotions and expressions, which can often put a strain on our ability to communicate effectively. As the AACSB writes, “pitch and voice modulation are especially important” in situations where stress is high. Demonstrating a quick temper or ugly tone does not help resolve situations, and it can do long-term damage to your personal rapport and ability to communicate constructively.
Many factors impact effective communication, including active listening, conciseness and clarity, confidence and assertiveness, friendliness and empathy, grammar and stress management. An advanced degree in communication can equip you with the necessary skills to succeed in nearly any industry and any job.