How to improve oral communication skills for career growth

Posted on | February 4, 2014 | No Comments

It is a proven fact that great communication skills are one of the most cherished attributes at the workplace. While technical proficiency in a chosen field is important and valuable, being able to translate that knowledge into action often requires the involvement of many more people, which is where the ability to communicate effectively is so crucial. It is not uncommon to find less knowledgeable people climb the corporate ladder faster and more easily—the differentiator is often the ability to communicate well!

Why is good oral communication valued so highly? It plays a huge role in getting the right things done rightly. Clear communication helps in faster decision making; it helps build momentum, which in turn results in energetic workplaces.

There are several factors that can affect the quality of communication: proficiency in the language in which one needs to communicate; self-confidence; and clarity of thought. Each of these presents its own challenges; the good news is that one can overcome these with a commitment to do so. We will address the above factors and offer advice to improve each of those in future articles; here we present some elementary steps that one should take to improve oral communication skills.

Listen mindfully
Effective communication is a two-way process and therefore, the ability to listen very carefully is as important a part of communication as it is to speak. Practice listening intently without allowing yourself to get distracted. It will not only give you much greater clarity on what the other person is saying but also train you to understand the finer nuances of communication such as style and tone of the other party’s communication. This can enable you to provide the right response in the most appropriate manner.

Speak up
If you are serious about improving your oral communication skills, you cannot afford to shy away from speaking up when opportunities present themselves. We have seen many people get into a vicious cycle—they don’t speak up in meetings because they feel unsure and unconfident about their ability to communicate; and then they don’t improve because they don’t put in the requisite practice. Take the important first step—start speaking up, even if it means that there will be challenges initially in getting your message across. However, taking the first step without fearing the consequences will give you the much needed confidence that can be a great catalyst to the improvement process. Speaking up forces you to think more; to observe more; to learn more. All of these will only stand you in good stead as you strive to become a better communicator.

Seek implicit and explicit feedback
Once you start communicating, be very open to getting feedback, both explicit and implicit. By implicit feedback, we mean that you should observe the body language of the people you are communicating to. It will give you a sense of whether you are able to get through to them; if you see them distracted or not listening to you, it tells you that you need to do a better job of keeping their attention. May be it is your vocabulary, maybe it is the manner of speaking – whatever it is, keep your antennae tuned to these signals. At the same time, go and ask your peers and senior colleagues for honest feedback on your communication and what you can do better. While many people shy away from giving honest feedback, even one or two constructive feedback points will be valuable.

Most of all, it is important that you acknowledge the value of good oral communication skill in your career and then make a conscious effort to continuously improve it. We are sure you will notice the benefits of doing so in your career sooner rather than later.

- The Editorial Team


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