As Paul J. Meyer said, “communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success,” and is more than a simple exchange of information. At its core, communication is interrelational and creates shared understanding. Effective communication skills are important to career success because none of us work in isolation.
Communication skills are essential if you want to:
- Impact other people. What matters when you communicate is what others perceive. Do they see you as an assertive and reliable colleague or as a pushy, self-centered player to sideline? Getting that promotion doesn’t just depend on tangible results. As this HBR article on promotions and relationships states, if you’re not ready for that promotion, you might want to reassess your work relationships and focus on ones that perceive you as ready to get that promotion.
- Build trust and openness. As this study on communication and trust shows, when employees receive timely and accurate information, they feel less vulnerable and more trusting. Nevertheless, the study continues to show that building trust is a delicate balance of quality and quantity of information which then impacts openness and vice versa.
- Improve your well-being. We look to relationships to meet our needs and enhance our moods. American psychiatrist William Glasser developed his Choice Theory from that concept. He then demonstrated that skilled communicators with self-control can create connecting relationship habits such as acceptance and encouragement, among others. This is a far cry from attempting to control situations by blaming, criticizing or threatening.
Tips to drive your career with transformational communication
Good communication skills go hand-in-hand with coaching-style leadership. As explained in our previous article on why managers need coaching skills, you need both to move from a transactional to a transformational experience. The latter inspires collaboration and innovation to a level where businesses will compete to hire you.
Paying attention is a vital part of communicating to transform relationships and encourage curiosity and openness. Rather than imposing your views, ask questions to tease out possibilities. Not only do you then become more inclusive but productivity increases as you discover new avenues.
Effective communication helps you become the master of your destiny. You can identify what you want in your career and how it matches with what the business needs. Skilled communicators can better align everyone and find win-win solutions. You can then pitch your next career move as being beneficial to the business.
It takes effort and patience to learn to effectively communicate. An easy way to do this is to work with a leadership coach. They can be a mirror to highlight blind spots, practice self-reflection, and teach various tools and frameworks to expand your communication repertoire.
Be in control with strong communication skills
Whether at home or in the office, we are in a constant flow of information, to the point of overload. Today, communication in the workplace often boils down to monosyllabic responses or one-liners on Slack. This isn’t communicating and it’s having dire consequences on our personal and professional life.
Communication is a two-way exchange and without a shared understanding, you risk conflict. Effective communication is important to career success to ensure harmony and progress as people move together towards an agreed goal, including how to support your career.
Effective communication skills go much deeper. By combining openness with curiosity and empathy, skilled communicators build rapport, engender trust and create positive feelings. Consequently, the receiver walks away feeling good about themselves. In turn, they can spread that good feeling and an organizational culture is born.
Consider the alternative. Your colleague proposes a process change by announcing it on Slack in a few lines. This happens time and time again and every time, they are surprised when they meet resistance. They don’t understand why people don’t just adopt their idea despite it having perfectly good logic.
Effective communication is important to career success so you make things happen quickly. Slack messaging won’t help you bridge gaps between your needs and employee needs. While Slack and social media have their place, we also need face-to-face communication if we hope to build supportive relationships and create synergy.
To communicate effectively, you need to keep fine-tuning these skills, often with a language coach:
- Nonverbal communication. So much impact comes from our facial expressions and body language. The more you know yourself, the more you can manage this.
- Written communication. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that online instant messaging doesn’t count. On the contrary, it’s recorded forever and has a powerful effect on others’ emotions.
- Emotional control. Soft skills, including empathy and mindfulness, are essential if you truly want to understand other people. Otherwise, you’re communicating with yourself.
- Active listening. Verbal communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. You need to listen to the other person but you also need to listen and manage your internal chatter. Practicing this is one of the most compelling reasons to work with a coach.
- Openness. Ask yourself, why is effective communication important to career success? Without it, you could fall into bias, close-mindedness and arrogance. Instead, embrace humility and admit your mistakes openly and wisely.
- Effective questioning. As this HBR article on the Surprising Power of Questions details, it’s an oft-forgotten skill unique for liberating an organization’s potential. And communication is at the core.
Improve your communication skills and watch how your world shifts
We live and work in a social environment and without strong communication skills, the risk is that others can block your career success.
With reflection, empathy and listening, you can improve your communication skills to be more assertive, influential and productive. Others will want to work with you and follow you on your path to greatness.
As a wise person once said, behind every great leader is a powerful coach. They keep your self-awareness on track as you fine-tune your communication skills. Together, you create systems and processes to understand how you think, feel and act. Your words and behaviors will then come naturally such that others only see an authentic leader they want to follow and who wants the best for everyone. That’s true success.
“Once you communicate, you don’t discover reality, you create reality.” Entrepreneur Meir Ezra knows that at that point, you change dynamics around you and nothing is ever the same again.