Think back to your time in high school or college. There were probably C students in your class who became successful professionals and built promising careers after graduation. But, on the other hand, some straight-A students didn’t grab the stars from the sky and instead took the most common positions.
How could this be?
The answer is simple: having only hard skills is not enough. Universal competencies, including communication soft skills, are essential for success in your career.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use soft skills to get things done and develop professionally. The tips here apply to any kind of role but are especially important for people who do a lot of technical work.
The importance of soft skills in dynamic work environments
These days, HR professionals are looking for experts with the appropriate technical skills to work in a dynamic and fluid environment. Moreover, organizations need people who can communicate effectively with managers and coworkers.
So, while hard skills are a must for getting a good job in an IT position, for example, soft skills will help you grow and successfully interact with others in the company.
What are soft skills?
Soft skills are people skills – the skills that help you communicate effectively and get along with others, including coworkers and management. Examples of soft skills include negotiation, conflict resolution, and empathy.
There are several essential communication soft skills that every professional should possess or at least try to master in their career. Some of these, and how to practice them, are covered below.
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Communication soft skills and how to use them
Here are 8 tips to help you master your communication soft skills at work:
1. Communicate on equal terms
When you work in an organization, always remember you will have coworkers who don’t understand the technical jargon you use every day in your role. Keep in mind that most companies sell either services or products promoted and sold by business people.
For example, if you’re an IT expert, you will interact with marketing, sales, products, and many other people who don’t understand the technical side of the business.
To communicate well, avoid using complex terms and instead talk about specific use cases rather than the technical aspects of your work. An IT professional who can explain complex technical points to people who don’t understand technology will have great relationships with colleagues in other departments and a better chance of getting into management roles.
Communication soft skills are important for all types of roles
The above is also true for people who work in service-oriented roles. Technical jargon can be useful, but you need to know the right time to use it.
For example, consider a server who uses restaurant lingo at the right times to communicate quickly with the cooks. Or a barista who knows when to avoid using uncommon coffee terms their customers might not understand.
Whether you’re interacting with coworkers or customers, try to put yourself in their shoes. You may find that you frame things differently this way.
2. Put the business before everything else
As someone who loves and enjoys working in technology, you may often forget that business is what makes you sell products or services. However, in conversations with colleagues outside the IT department, always remember that business helps pay the company’s bills and salaries. So, when you think an idea is good for the company, always consider its commercial benefits.
Always think about business expansion and numbers while brainstorming, since it gets your ideas heard in your workplace.
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3. Practice empathy toward team members
Consider that if you work in a professional environment, it’s essential to establish friendly relationships within your team. Before discussing anything with your colleagues, put yourself in their shoes and phrase your statements and questions accordingly.
For example, it’s easy to take the “It’s not my job” position when discussing deadlines or projects, but this is not an effective way to communicate roles and responsibilities. In fact, it’s likely to make your coworkers dislike you and reduce your chances of moving up the ladder. Businesses prefer team players.
Instead of shutting them down, practice empathy toward your coworkers. Try to find solutions together when you can.
4. Strive for clarity with others
Clarity is perhaps one of the most critical soft skills for a successful career. When you achieve clarity, there is no room for misunderstandings. Thus, it makes your professional life much smoother and more efficient. So when communicating with coworkers, managers, and employers, ensure you get your point across clearly.
You can practice this by focusing on the 2-3 most important points you want to make. Limit yourself to a few sentences each but be prepared to expand if a colleague asks for more information.
If you can’t communicate your point by email or writing, switch to a phone or face-to-face conversation. The sooner you get your point across, the less likely you will face misunderstandings. But if you find it difficult to express your thoughts verbally, try practicing this skill in written form with the help of an essay writer, which you can find easily on the best writing services.
5. Communicate with a “cold mind”
There are days when we don’t feel our best, and staying calm in such a moment is already a soft skill. Disagreements with coworkers or management are inevitable during your career. Always ensure you don’t let your emotions get the better in such situations – that’s what is meant by communicating with a “cold mind.”
If you need to, take some time before communicating with someone you disagree with or don’t get along professionally. Cool off, compose yourself, and collect your thoughts.
No matter where you work, you will at some point find yourself at odds with a team member. To have a successful career, you must learn to communicate with them effectively despite your differences. The best way to do this is to let your mind cool down so that you can maintain a professional tone in your dealings with that person.
Think about it: if they receive a snide or angry-sounding message from you, they’re going to focus on the tone and not the point you were trying to get across.
To practice this communication soft skill, always be careful with your choice of words in written and verbal communication. For more tips, see TimeForge’s article on communication between employees and managers.
6. Show confidence
Unfortunately, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, which not everyone can observe. So the best solution here is always to listen and get the opinion of your team members and managers before you speak your mind.
When you do express your opinion, show confidence. Follow through, and avoid coming across as wishy-washy or uncertain. After all, if you’re not confident in your choices, how can you expect others to be? Remember that confident people are more effective in communication and more successful in their careers.
Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as HR, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German, and English. Meet him on Facebook and Twitter.