What are communication skills?
At its simplest, communication means being able to convey a sense of meaning to another person or group of people and for it to be understood. Good communication skills, therefore, cover a wide range of activities, from conveying visual meaning in the form of symbols to talking and using body language. In short, there is no single definition of what communication skills really are. In the main, however, people refer to communication skills to discuss how people relate and interact with one another in daily life. In most cases, this means talking, but all other forms of communication, including digital and written work, must also be taken into account. Remember that good communication skills do not merely rely on making yourself heard but on being able to listen to what is being communicated to you just as much. This is because communication is always a two-way street to some extent.
Can communication skills be taught?
Yes, they can. Although communication might be thought of as innate ability, it must always be acquired, usually in childhood. What is innate – in humans, at least – is the part of the brain that is devoted to communication. How we use this part of our neural networks will differ, however. Babies who are not exposed to verbal language, for example, will commonly find it harder to speak as toddlers than those who have been in earshot of people speaking. People who feel their communication skills are below par can find numerous courses that are devoted to the subject, whether it is in public speaking confidence or improved literacy.
Why are communication skills important?
Without adequate skills in communication, we have the ability to be heard but not understood. With improved skill, it is possible to convey even more sophisticated messages to those around us. Some people with exceptional levels of communication adeptness will go into a career that is based on their skills, perhaps in the media, in politics or as a spiritual leader. Without them, we are basically more alone. It is by communication that humans have managed to be so successful in living cooperatively, certainly compared to other species. Without good communication, misunderstandings are more likely, and this is the cause of much conflict in the world, many people would argue.
What communication skills do employers want?
Employers often say they want candidates with good communication skills without qualifying what they mean. Unless it is a communications role you are after, what an employer really means is likely the ability to speak clearly, to put ideas together in a coherent and straightforward way and the ability to read and write to a reasonable level. Few employers mean they are only looking to hire an orator with the skills of Cicero when they ask for good levels of communicability.
How can you improve your communication skills?
One of the most important things to improve your proficiency in communication is to slow down. Break ideas down and put them back together as simply as you can. Keep to everyday words and avoid jargon. Pause after each sentence and don't rely on words alone. Eye contact, a friendly stance and even a smile can all help you to communicate better.