Oprah Winfrey. Abraham Lincoln. Winston Churchill. Eleanor Roosevelt. Mother Teresa. Walt Disney.
What do all these important figures have in common? In addition to putting their stamp on history, they all possessed (or possess) remarkable communication skills.
Along with other soft skills like critical thinking, good communication is essential to career success. Many people earn their bachelor's degree and even master's degree in communication, and some devote their entire careers to studying and perfecting the art.
Having effective communication skills is integral to many industries, such as public relations, marketing, human resources, politics, business, and many others. And despite being considered a "soft skill," it's essential for many technical fields as well. In fact, Project Oxygen, which sought to evaluate data on employees at Google, found that communicating and listening well was one of the skills that best predicted success at the tech giant, more so than STEM-related abilities.
There are many different types of communication used for professional purposes. Generally speaking, communication can be classified as verbal, nonverbal, or visual. Some people add more classifications, such as interpersonal communication.
In a professional setting, you will use a range of vehicles and types of communication to convey your message. For example, you'll communicate verbally, digitally, and through writing. You'll speak in person, send emails, and file reports. These are just some examples of types of communication you'll use routinely.
Many professionals hone their communication skills through courses. Check your local colleges, trade schools, and other organizations to see if they offer continuing ed or non-matriculated courses in professional communication.
Still not convinced that having strong professional communication skills will benefit you in your career? Here are five areas in which having a strong grasp of language and ability to communicate effectively is essential. No matter what your industry or job is, you'll almost definitely encounter them at least once during your career.
Having strong oral communication skills is key to nailing job interviews. In order to demonstrate your ability to do the job well, you'll have to be able to express yourself in areas such as:
• Your work experience
In addition, many hiring managers will be evaluating your interpersonal communication skills as a measure of how well you'll interact with your team because this is often an important aspect of any position.
Even in highly technical positions, such as programming, you'll likely have people evaluating your soft skills, which include general communication, along with your technical skills.
Your ability to work well in a group often depends on your ability to communicate effectively. When you're collaborating with others—which is a given for most positions—team members need to be in constant communication to make sure the project is going as planned. For specific projects, you may need to work together to develop communication strategies that work for everyone.
Don't consider yourself a strong writer? Well, that's something you'll have to change.
You don't need to be Shakespeare, of course, but in order to succeed in the professional world, you'll have to be able to master solid writing skills, because no matter what your job is, you'll probably have to write at least occasionally. You'll need to write:
Do you hate public speaking? So do I. But at some point in your career, you may be tasked with speaking to an audience, whether it's sharing data at a meeting, delivering a report to the board at your company, or sitting on a panel at an industry event. And having strong oral communication skills will help you speak well and deliver your presentation flawlessly.
Leaders need to be able to communicate with everyone from reports to their own managers to the public. If you're able to effectively communicate your mission and goals to employees and explain to them why they're doing the work they're doing, they will likely be more satisfied knowing that their work has a purpose. And since your ability to deliver results depends on your team members' ability to do their jobs well, this means a better company and product overall.
Additionally, you'll need to communicate your mission to the public to encourage them to use your product or service. Even if you're not a marketer, as you advance in your career, you'll need to develop skills to communicate your company's value.
No matter your job or industry, communication is fundamental to your career success. From mastering your interview to managing a team, your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas can make or break your career. Want to hone your skills? Read our 11-Step Guide To Becoming An Effective Communicator for tips.