If you want to grow in your career, it’s essential that you dedicate time to skills such as active listening, direct communication, and giving and receiving constructive feedback.
Today’s guest post is by Dr. Laurie Moroco—Certified Business Coach, Keynote Speaker & Corporate Trainer.
For many of us, the career ladder feels like a slippery slope. You might feel like you have no control over your career and that the decisions being made over your head aren’t always in your best interest.
However, one skill puts the rungs on the ladder of success within your reach. That skill involves how well you communicate with other people on an interpersonal level, and it can make all the difference in growing as a professional.
How communication skills promote career growth
It’s difficult to find a job description that doesn’t list “excellent communications skills” among its listed requirements, but this is because strong communication skills are crucial in so many aspects of your career. Whether you’re trying to connect with your coworkers, manage a team, or build strong relationships with clients, mastering interpersonal communication will help you on your way.
Since childhood, we have found ways to talk with the people around us — yet, somehow, it’s still something that many of us struggle with. When we learn to practice active listening, speaking directly, and how to accept and apply feedback, we can start improving our interpersonal communication skills and positively impacting our professional growth.
Start by practicing active listening
The first quality that marks strong communicators may be somewhat surprising. Rather than talking, this marker involves knowing when not to talk.
Active listening is a skill. It’s not simply about hearing what another person is saying, it’s about understanding them and connecting with the person — the individual — who is speaking to you. Active listening shows respect for the speaker and allows both parties to learn from each other.
We’ve all had moments where we felt like someone was talking over us, or perhaps too involved in their own thoughts to properly listen to us. And while learning how to master active listening does require practice, especially for those who have been misled into believing that talking is more valuable than listening, anyone can become better at it with the right effort.
To improve your active listening skills, practice being present when talking with someone. Try not to let your mind wander and focus on what the other person is saying, instead of forming your own opinions, then ask questions when they are done. Repeating and restating are very effective techniques to use. You can say things like, “what I think I heard you say was…”
Active listening involves empathy, meaning you have to understand the emotions and meaning behind another person’s words and be willing to look at the story from their point of view, learn new information, and connect with others.
Effective communication requires being clear and direct
The second marker of a master communicator is honesty. When you are able to say what you mean, you will immediately see yourself becoming a better communicator.
This requires you to resist the urge to be overly polite and indirect when speaking with others, especially in professional settings. For instance, if your boss or a colleague asks you a question, don’t leave them with a noncommittal answer, as vague statements leave things open for interpretation. While you may feel you are being polite or deferring, these statements only lead to confusion and miscommunication.
Instead, find ways to convey your message in a manner that is clear, concise, and lets the other party know what you want (and why) without being overly emotional or aggressive. If there is something that needs to happen outside of your control in order for you to do your job effectively, such as equipment and training, communicate those requirements upfront so they are made known.
Learn how to give and receive professional feedback
Mastering interpersonal communication in a professional setting involves learning how to both give and receive feedback. Whether you are an employee or a leader in your organization, the constructive feedback you receive is critical to your professional development and growth. It enables you to clarify expectations, learn from your mistakes, and become more confident in your role.
Similarly, being able to deliver positive feedback to others is not only vital to your professional growth, but is also extremely easy. The next time you’re in a meeting or on a call with your team, make it a point to tell someone they’ve done a good job by highlighting something they excelled at within the past week or two.
Negative feedback, on the other hand, is notoriously more challenging to deliver. Few people want to have difficult conversations with their peers, and may feel the urge to soften the message or delay the discussion altogether. However, doing so leaves issues unaddressed and allows issues to fester and worsen. The more you practice delivering timely feedback, the more confident you will become in your communication.
Feedback is a two-way street, and being open to receiving it — without taking it personally — is the fastest way to learn from other professionals in your field. When someone takes the time to offer feedback, it doesn’t mean they are criticizing you or thinking less of you as a person, it may simply mean they want what’s best for the organization as a whole
Interpersonal communication skills are crucial for professional growth and success
If you want to grow in your career, it’s essential that you dedicate time to skills such as active listening, direct communication, and giving and receiving constructive feedback. Mastering these skills will completely change the game of your professional life for the better. If you want to build relationships with colleagues and clients, communicate your ideas confidently, or ask for the promotion you deserve, start by learning how to communicate effectively with others.
Dr. Laurie Moroco has always been an advocate of competent and effective communication. As a solopreneur, her businesses have been featured on Rachel Ray, MSN and Working Mother, and the Republican National Convention. Dr. Moroco became a full-time tenured professor and communications chair, and she is now an assistant dean of instruction at a Colorado institute. In addition to being a professor, Dr. Morocco is also a certified master business strategist, a corporate leadership trainer, and a working mom of four children. Laurie is passionate about mentoring other entrepreneurs and encouraging them to ELEVATE their success to the next level.
Did you enjoy this post? If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog. It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!). SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!