How to Improve Your Communication SkillsCommunication skills are an important part of your career as an IT professional. Learning how to improve your communication skills may be the most beneficial thing you can do to advance your career.

How to Improve Your Communication Skills

Improving your communication skills has several benefits. It gives you the confidence to speak to many different types of people – managers, co-workers, technical and non-technical people, human resources, sales and vendors.

It allows you to find out information easier and more effectively than you did before. It could also improve your outlook on your working life!

Want an Oracle SQL function cheat sheet for easy reference? Click here to get a PDF file that contains all of Oracle functions for you to reference or print out.

Want To Improve Your Oracle SQL?

Improve your Oracle SQL queries by signing up to my free 10-day Oracle Tips email course.

BONUS: Oracle SQL functions PDF cheat sheet

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Become A Good Listener

You’ve probably heard it many times before, but a big part of communication is listening. Improving your listening skills is a great tip on how to improve your communication skills.

It may be tempting to interrupt speakers or to chime in when you think you understand, but if you allow a speaker to finish speaking and then respond, it lets you absorb more of what they are saying and shows them more respect.

It’s surprising how many people in the IT industry have less than average listening skills. You may be able to articulate yourself at a high level and get your message across, but if you’re not a good listener, then your skills can be improved.
Communication in a workplace is a two-way street. Speaking is only half of it – listening is the other half. This doesn’t only mean hearing what the person has to say, it includes:
  • Allowing the other person to finish what they have to say
  • Thinking about what they are saying and what message they are trying to convey
  • Considering their point when responding
If you consider these three points, you’ll find your own listening skills improving and being able to communicate better.

 

Talk Slowly

Speaking slowly will give the impression that you’re calm and confident in what you’re saying.

I have a tendency to talk fast in some situations, usually because I’m busy or distracted.

However, on other occasions I talk slower, and I notice that when other people talk slower it gives a good impression. It also allows you to put more thought into what you’re saying, which leads on to the next point.

 

Use The Right Words

Picking the right words for the situation will help you communicate better.

There are so many people (you may know a few) that use the same words over and over in all kinds of situations, just because that’s the word they think they mean, or because it’s the common word to use.

Or if it’s business jargon. People love using that.

Determining the correct word to use while communicating with someone will help to get your message across more effectively.

 

Maintain Eye Contact

Many people don’t use eye contact when communicating. Looking people in the eye conveys confidence and also shows them that you’re concentrating on them, either when you’re listening or speaking.

Of course, don’t stare at them the whole time – look away occasionally if you need to, but have at least a 50/50 split of eye contact and non-eye-contact (is that even a word? You know what I mean!) .

 

Provide Clear Information

The key to good communication in a workplace is to explain yourself clearly. Being able to provide clear information is important. When you communicate with others, whether this is using written or verbal methods, you need to be able to get your message across in a clear and concise way. To do this:

  • Don’t use overly complex words
  • Think about what you’re saying before you say it
  • Try to imagine what the receiver or listener is thinking when they hear your message

If you provide clear information when communicating with others, it helps to get your message across, and reduce any confusion or “mixed messages” between you and your listener.

 

Be Honest

Honesty is important in the workplace. It’s important for communication in a workplace. If you’re honest with the people you’re communicating with, it will ensure the right outcomes are achieved. Being dishonest will only cause more problems in the future and you may even get found out.

It’s important to provide correct and full information when dealing with others, so they’re aware of the message you’re giving to them. If they hear something that isn’t quite true, they will make decisions and do things based on this information which, will most likely make things worse.

 

Use Verbal And Non-Verbal Methods

To effectively communicate in a workplace, you should be able to use both verbal and non-verbal methods for communication. Verbal methods involve speaking, such as face-to-face discussions, meetings and phone calls. Non-verbal methods include all other types, such as emails, text messages and documentation.

Practice using each method of communication whenever you can. It will come with experience, but you’ll realise which situations suit different types of communication.

Phone calls have more urgency, but emails are sometimes easier to explain topics and can be backed up by images and tables. It depends on the situation, of course, but if you’re proficient in many types then using them won’t be an issue!

Ask The Right Questions

Asking questions is a big part of communication in a workplace.
Not just any questions, though – it’s important to ask the right questions. There have been a lot of books and websites made on this topic of asking the right questions. I won’t go into detail just yet on this topic (I’ll save that for a future article), but asking the right questions is the best way to ensure you get the answers you are after.
Asking the right questions is done by using the most appropriate words and phrases to get the most relevant answer to your concerns.

If you’re concerned about your team member’s workload, asking them “Can you finish your task on time?” could give you a different response to a question such as “With your current workload and the state of the task, do you see any issues that would stop you from finishing your task on time?”. The second question is more direct, and even though it’s a bit longer, it’s forced the listener to consider the concerns you have.

A helpful article over at Bridging the Gap has some good questions which are focused on the business analyst role, which is a role that involves a lot of question-asking.

 

Have The Hard Conversations When You Need To

There are many conversations that people need to have, but just don’t. They put them into the “too hard basket”, for a variety of reasons including too much work, not enough time, not worth the effort, or afraid of the result.

Being an effective communicator means that you need to have these hard conversations every now and then.
If you’re concerned about your workload, speak to your manager about your concerns. If you have a personal issue with a team member or a customer you’re dealing with, speak to them or your manager.

Raising any issues and discussing them in a mature manner is a great way to develop different kinds of communication skills.

 

Use Body Language

Body language is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of communicating, especially when communicating in a workplace.

It’s underrated, it’s performed unconsciously by everyone, and once you realise what to recognise then you can use it to your advantage.

I read a book recently that covered body language secrets. It explained that everyone subconsciously performed different movements and acts with their body in different situations. I learnt what different signals were and what to look out for in different situations. It also showed me how to be aware of my own body language.

Being aware of your own body language while communicating is a good way to get your message across easier. Think about how you’re sitting, standing, and positioned when communicating with others, and try to make it reflect the attitude of what you’re saying, whether it’s aggressive, formal, friendly or otherwise.

Keep an eye out for other people’s body language to see if they are getting bored, feeling defensive, feeling attentive or showing scepticism.

I’ll go into detail on this in a future post, but if you’re able to be aware of both your body language, and the body language of others, it will help out your communication skills a lot.

 

Attend Training

Finally, a good way of improving your communication skills is to attend a training session. Check if your employer offers them, or has any suggestions on training courses to attend. They may even reimburse the costs!

These training courses may go into more detail on communication methods, best practices, and things to look out for. Depending on the course, it should help out a few areas of your communication and you should learn a few things from the process.

Putting into practice these steps will ensure that your communication in a workplace is more direct, more effective and will help you stand out from the crowd as an IT professional!

 

Make Small Improvements

It can be quite hard to learn how to improve your communication skills in a short period of time.

When learning how to improve your communication skills, I would suggest identifying and improving one or two areas at a time.

This will allow you to focus on an area in more detail and should show greater improvement. Once you think you have improved an area of your communication, then you can move on to a different area.

 

For example, you might decide to improve your listening skills. Practice listening to others and letting them get their message across. Once you think you have improved this, you could move onto another area you think you’re weaker in. Before you know it, you’ll be a more capable and effective communicator!

Want an Oracle SQL function cheat sheet for easy reference? Click here to get a PDF file that contains all of Oracle functions for you to reference or print out.

Want To Improve Your Oracle SQL?

Improve your Oracle SQL queries by signing up to my free 10-day Oracle Tips email course.

BONUS: Oracle SQL functions PDF cheat sheet

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Image courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Want To Improve Your Oracle SQL?

Improve your Oracle SQL queries by signing up to my free 10-day Oracle Tips email course.

BONUS: Oracle SQL functions PDF cheat sheet

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit