Monthly Archives: May 2016

Written Communication Skills and Tips

Communication is a part and parcel of everyday life. We cannot not communicate. It is one of the most essential and integral part of our existence, and the absence of communication can lead to many problems and misunderstandings. In order to have an effective dialog, it is necessary that effective communication skills be developed. Communication can be divided into verbal and non verbal. Verbal communication means any communication that involves spoken words or sounds. Non verbal communication includes any communication that does not use oratory media for communication. Written communication comes under non verbal communication. Having good written communication skills is a pre requisite for almost everyone today. Read ahead on how you too can enhance your skills and reap the benefits.

Importance of Written Communication
Written communication involves the use of written words to send a message from one point to another. Given below are some points highlighting the importance of written communication in day-to-day life.

  • Written communication is important for any business entity to carry out the daily business activities.
  • It helps in maintaining records of business transactions.
  • Written communication like brochures and catalogs help companies to showcase their products effectively.
  • Print advertisements help to market products.
  • Contracts, inter departmental memos and notices, emails and other such intra-organizational communication serve as a permanent record of the business communication that takes place.
  • Written documents can serve as evidence in a court of law if and when required.
  • Written words are believed more than spoken words. It’s just human psychology to believe something that we see in writing (even if it may be false) than something someone says (which may very well be true!)
  • Personal written communication like letters, emails, post cards, greeting cards, etc., have their own charm and special meaning to the ones sending and receiving them.

How to Improve Written Communication Skills
The importance of effective written communication skills cannot be stressed enough. Written communication plays a major role, especially in the corporate world. Hence, it is doubly important to have good written communication skills in the workplace. Business writing or any other form of written communication can be very simple for those who follow the guidelines that are given below.

Audience: Keep your audience/reader in mind before you begin writing the piece. The audience is mainly what determines the content to be written. Once you have an idea about who is the intended audience, you can judge for yourself what other necessary steps need to be taken to ensure the completion of the communication cycle, which is, after all, the intention of any piece of communication.

Information: The basics of communication should be covered in your piece of written communication. The 5 Ws and 1 H – Who, What, Where, When, Why and How (either completely or at least the ones that need to be) should be in your piece. This is basically almost the entire information that you wish to give the reader. How ever you present the data, these points need to covered, only then is it an effective way of communication.

Tone: Deciding the tone of your communication depends on the audience to a large extent. You must be able to gauge what kind of tone you should use to ensure maximum comprehension and retention by your audience. For instance, you cannot use a condescending tone with a person who is at a higher post than you at work. Nor can you use an arrogant tone for something that is meant to reach a large number of people at one time. Another instance, is letter writing. If you’re writing a letter to a customer to remind him (for the third time) to pay his bills, your tone will be slightly more stern than the first or second letter of notice that you must have written to him. Tones can vary from casual, semi formal to formal, depending on who you’re communicating with and what you intend to communicate.

Language: This forms one of the major chunks of written communication that one needs to develop. This does not mean that you need to have a flair for writing. It simply means that you must be well versed with the fundamentals of the language. These include grammar, spellings, figures of speech, parts of speech, punctuation, etc. Following the basics of the language is more than enough to be a decent writer. Of course, this is just the case with formal writing. In the case of creative writing like copywriting for ads or storytelling in any form, it is essential that along with the basics, you must possess a flair for writing and a creative sense as well.

Length: Knowing when to stop applies to written communication as well. You can’t just keep rambling on and on, when not required. The beauty of effective written communication can be seen in its presentation. How well and how concisely you manage to accommodate all the information that you need to give is what shows how proficient your written communication is. The key, as the old adage goes, is to be ‘clear, concise and correct’. But this does not necessarily mean that you cut short on something that requires to be explained in detail. So, in short, you must be able to estimate how much you need to write about something. And, if you feel something’s getting too long, break it up into parts. This makes it easier for you as well as the reader.

These were some pointers on how you can improve your written communication skills. These are just basic guidelines and writing tips which need to be paid attention to. There are many more intricacies involved in every style of writing, which can be mastered only with in-depth study and regular practice.

Tips on Developing Useful Communication

Good communication skills empower an individual to inspire and influence others in order to reach the desired outcome, no matter how difficult the situation may appear to be. An individual with these skills not just has an edge over his/her fellow colleagues/friends/acquaintances etc., but also carries out his/her job with a lot of confidence, ease, and perfection. These skills combined with appropriate body language, can help anyone in leaving a mark behind with each interaction he/she has. This article discusses developing effective team communication skills in people.

Basics

Most organizations, now, work on different projects simultaneously with separate teams allocated to each project. Depending on the project size and scope, they can be small or large. Irrespective of the number of employees in a team, it is essential that every member understands and shares relevant information related to the project. It is also important that they have a clear picture of their roles and responsibilities with respect to the project, and deliver accordingly. Thus, in order to ensure a successful project execution, it is important that the members share a healthy relationship based on trust, confidence, and mutual understanding. All this is possible only when a team develops and practices effective communication skills.

How to Develop?

Developing such skills within the team can be done easily by imbibing some basic manners, professional etiquette, and keeping an open mind.

Follow the tips given below and start practicing them:

  • Always respect all your fellow members, irrespective of whether you are just a member or a leader.
  • Ensure whether all the members understand the project requirements thoroughly and know what the project targets are. Ask questions or have discussions to clarify the same.
  • Organize regular meetings to understand the doubts and queries of every member, and provide solutions accordingly.
  • Keep every member informed with the latest project updates or project issues.
  • Define the role and responsibility of every member clearly to avoid confusion or unnecessary re-work.
  • When in a meeting or discussion, let every one have their turn to speak and suggest. It is of no use if you alone keep talking and ignore what others have to say.
  • Listen to others’ opinions and use their suggestions if found to be effective. Listening plays a significant role. Repeat others’ words to acknowledge their point of views.
  • Ask for feedback and suggestions.
  • Always speak in a clear and slow manner. Give sound and logical reasoning to your opinions.
  • Always be polite in your way of speaking and behavior. Using rude tone or body language may bring upon negative feelings among the members.
  • Clear out personal differences and misunderstandings by speaking it out with the concerned person. Keeping it inside and harboring grudges against one another may affect the spirit and have a direct impact on the quality of your work.
  • Make appropriate use of emails, telephones, voice messages, and instant messengers while communicating with the fellow members. Follow the professional etiquette while writing emails, greeting over telephones, leaving voicemail, and sending instant messages. These modes of communication also have a lot of importance in today’s work place.
  • Avoid using unpleasant words, expressions, giving out sensitive and confidential information while using the above modes of communication.
  • Display acknowledgement and appreciation through face to face interaction or electronic modes when someone performs well. Just a pat on the back, a warm handshake, or two lines of an appreciation mail can have a great impact to motivate.
  • When appreciated or praised, thank the person in a polite and sophisticated manner. Avoid continuous rejoicing about your personal success. This might create an uncomfortable situation for your other members.
  • Always have a friendly attitude towards each other. Help others in need, and you will get back others’ help when you require the same.
  • Deal with tense situations with a calm mind. If anyone’s words make you angry, try to keep a cool head and put your point forward. Avoid using harsh words in return.
  • Avoid blaming others continuously when any work is not done. Instead, try to find out the root cause and see to it that it is not repeated in future.

Always try to find out if any member is facing any problem and have a discussion with him/her to address the issue. Speaking and constant interaction with each other always helps in developing a healthy spirit.

Oral Communication Skills

importance-of-oral-communicationThe communication process conducted through spoken words is referred to as oral communication. In the ‘University of Virginia, Oral Communication Competency Report’, oral communication is defined as the effective interpretation, composition, and presentation of information, ideas, and values to a specific audience. In today’s world, the emergence of different forms of media has led to the communication process to take place through different channels like telephones, teleconferences, video conferences, etc. Earlier, face-to-face meetings and speeches were the only forms of communication. Understanding and incorporating different workplace communication skills has become highly important to succeed in today’s professional life. Effective listening in the workplace is as important as conveying your thoughts while speaking. So, let us find what are some skills you need to develop for the communication to be effective.

General Communication Skills
The list of communication skills presented below should be helpful in developing proper communication in business, for presentations and also in general.

  • Pronouncing the words clearly is an important thing to be remembered. The need to repeat a particular word/sentence affects the flow of presentation.
  • To emphasize the importance of a particular thought, words have to be pronounced by changing their tones.
  • Avoiding fillers while speaking is necessary. The sound of fillers (‘um’, ‘ah’, etc.) could be irritating for listeners.
  • While in a face-to-face communication process, interrupting the speaker is considered a sign of poor communication.
  • Careful listening is as important as speaking clearly while in the process of oral communication. It helps respond in a proper manner.
  • One should always make an eye contact with the listeners; this way, the attention of listeners is not lost and their interest is kept intact.
  • Asking questions in order to obtain information is one of the important aspects. One should keep the questions precise in order to get a clear answer. Same is the case when a person has to answer a question. Answering the question with correct details and also in quick time is of great importance.
  • It is not advisable to carry on the communication process without understanding a particular point.
  • In a communication process, body language of a person is considered as important as the spoken words. Body language of the speaker has a great impact on the listener(s). This is because it gives them an idea or indication of the direction in which the communication process is heading. The listener either gets positively or negatively influenced by the body language of the speaker.

Oral Communication Skills in the Workplace
Workplace communication is that of a formal nature and requires a person to present his thoughts in a precise and concise manner. The quality of speaking in a precise manner proves to be helpful in a telephonic conversation. An interviewer should be capable of retrieving necessary information from the interviewee.

Skills Required for Oral Presentation
For a good oral presentation, the quality of text and the way it is presented are equally important. An organized text presentation allows the orator to proceed smoothly from point-to-point. Presenting relevant information through a presentation is an important point to be kept in mind. Elaborating on this very core of the presentation is acceptable; however, you shouldn’t wander away from the topic of importance. Your speech should be interactive in nature. The audience shouldn’t feel that the presentation being made is just an activity of reading out a piece of dry, textual information. Understanding the nature of corporate communication should help the working professionals in communicating with their colleagues in a better manner.

Different Settings for Oral Communication
Interpersonal communication is one of the best ways to start with the process of developing your communication skills. You can speak freely and without getting tensed when you just have to speak to a single person at a time. Through interpersonal communication, a person learns how to phrase his/her ideas clearly and also listen to others carefully.

Group discussion exercises play an important role in developing the communication skills. People get to know each others’ views and thoughts through such exercises. More importantly, discussing on a particular topic compels the participants to listen to each other carefully. Group discussion exercises can be used both at school/college level and professional level.

Speaking in front of a large audience for many of us, is quite difficult. It is okay to feel nervous in front of a large audience. However, you can overcome the fear of public speaking completely by making presentations on a regular basis. This form of oral communication is very different from interpersonal communication. Here, you must speak precisely and present the topic in a concise manner. Holding the attention of listeners is the key to become a proficient public speaker.

It is necessary to develop oral communication skills in order to survive in today’s information-oriented world. Dissemination of information can be conducted in a proper manner only if you possess good communication skills. Individual and business relations can be developed and maintained with the use of these skills.

List of Communication Skills

The activity of improving communication skills plays an important role in the process of personality development. You are able to effectively present our opinion through proper communication. Effective communication is a process of speaking and listening carefully, so that one doesn’t miss out on important messages and cues being communicated. These skills listed below are required for effective interpersonal communication and also for speaking properly in a group.

Effective Communication Skills

The list of communication skills presented below, should be helpful in interacting with people in an effective manner.

  • Staying focused while communicating is very important. Concentrating hard should help in catching the speaker’s views and responding to them with ease. It can be irritating for a speaker to repeat his words again and again; careful listening is therefore, as important as proper speaking. Proceeding further without listening correctly is even more dangerous. It is therefore, necessary to maintain high concentration levels in order to communicate in a proper manner.
  • Developing effective listening skills is as important as speaking in the communication process. Good listeners don’t have to spend much time in understanding what the other person has to say. They are capable of responding precisely since the whole thing is understood quickly. Feedback offered by good listeners reduces the effort of speakers to elaborate on points to be communicated.
  • Making an eye contact while speaking and listening is a way to assure the speaker that you are following the communication process interestedly. Looking away from the speaker or not just concentrating properly would exhibit your poor communication skills.
  • Body language should be given as much importance as verbal communication. It is one of the important elements in the list of interpersonal skills. An open stance indicates that a person is interested in communicating. If the arms are kept crossed and shoulders placed in a hunched position, it suggests that the person is not interested in communicating.
  • Attitude of the speaker also holds great importance in the communication process. Listening to the speaker patiently and then keeping forth your views should be the right thing to do. The attempt should not be that of winning over an argument however, understanding the subject being discussed.
  • Speaking clearly is an important thing to keep in mind. Merely pronouncing the words clearly is not enough. The listener should be able to understand your views/thoughts clearly. Any kind of ambiguity can lead to confusion.
  • You should not use harsh language even if you find the speaker’s views conflicting with that of yours. Disagreeing or displaying your disapproval about a certain conflict in a polite manner is always possible. Once again, patience is the key to handle such type of situations.
  • Keeping an open mind helps in understanding the thoughts of others without getting into conflict-mode. Objective analysis of a particular statement helps in preventing arguments and carrying on with the communication process.
  • Explaining a particular concept to an audience requires you to be aware of the level of understanding of listeners. For the communication process to be fruitful, the plane of thinking of audience and speaker should be the same.
  • There are instances when you need to repeat your statement or message to the listeners without getting irritated. Keeping your head and staying patient is the key to maintaining the communication process hurdle-free.
  • Making your communication process creative is possible with a little bit of effort. For example, the leaders of two teams in an organization may have conflicting views. However, expressing them tacitly/creatively should keep them from using a negative tone while presenting their viewpoints.
  • We often make mistakes while speaking/listening (not concentrating enough) and thereby, respond in a wrong way. You should always learn from the mistakes you have made in the past. This approach helps in culling the errors one-by-one and thereby, improving the communication process.

Tips to Improve Communication
The skills provided in the form of effective communication tips should prove to be useful.
Addressing people by their name is one of the skills you should try to master.
Staying polite and behaving in a controlled manner while speaking though is important, the fact that one should remain assertive must not be forgotten.

It is not always possible to receive a feedback that is pleasant or which is in line with your opinions. Accepting the differences in opinion is therefore, an important skill which needs to be mastered. It takes time to develop this skill however, is worth the effort.
The list of communication skills presented through this article presents before readers the different aspects of effective communication. The subject being vast and complicated in nature, it is not possible to address all the related topics. This write-up however, enlists some of the important points.