Every career uses some form of communication, from a gravestone company salesperson to a dental assistant. Different careers use different essential communication skills, so you need to be able to tell which ones each career position that interests you requires. Both personal and career success depend on communicating well, so read on to learn about the types of communication, which careers depend on which communication skills, and how to determine for yourself the most important career communication skills for your type of work.
The Five Major Communication Types
Today’s career climate requires each individual to master five types of essential communication, although their career choice may rely more heavily on one communication type. In the work world, you’ll need:
- Verbal communication
- Non-Verbal communication
- Written communication
- Visual communication
- Digital communication.
Let’s consider the specific reasons each of these five essential communication forms remains so important.
Verbal Communication Skills
Every day, workers in each career use verbal communication to speak to their co-workers and customers. Verbal communication also encompasses listening and comprehension. Without understanding what others say and mean, a person cannot accurately communicate.
The applications of this essential communication vary, including phone, in-person, and video conversations and meetings, presentations, and interviews. For example, an attorney needs excellent verbal communication skills, referred to as oratory skills, for making court arguments and questioning witnesses, and a minister needs these skills for sermons and funeral memorial tributes. When a person verbally communicates effectively, they do the following:
- Articulate their message clearly
- Listening actively
- Use appropriate tone and delivery
- Engage the audience
- Respond appropriately.
Customer service positions, especially customer service representatives, need superior verbal communication skills, as do receptionists, secretaries, salespeople, teachers, university professors, etc.
Non-Verbal Communication Skills
Although most people don’t actively use non-verbal communication, those in the acting profession do. For everyone else, mastering non-verbal communication amounts to knowing what not to do when around others. Non-verbal communication in most contexts refers to body language, including posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact. For those in acting, it refers to their shtick, pratfalls, and “business,” a term referring to what they do with their hands, feet, and body while acting a scene.
Without mastering non-verbal essential communication, your body language could give away your true opinion in meetings or conversations with others. This fact can result in problems negotiating or in losing ground in meetings. Non-verbal communication reveals your emotions, the meaning behind your words, and attitudes, something important to master when working at a surrogacy agency. For example, leaning forward during a conversation indicates interest in what the other party says.
Written Communication Skills
Every executive position requires superb written communication skills, as do authors, journalists, lawyers, professors, etc. These individuals write books, reports, emails, memos, text messages, and articles. Lawyers write position briefs and professors author research papers for publication in academic journals.
Writing clearly helps convey the central message of your thesis. This essential communication form also helps you build workplace and industry credibility, as well as, demonstrate professionalism. Writing with active verbs and avoiding jargon whenever possible comprise the top two tenets of great writing.
Visual Communication Skills
Visual communication refers to creating visual means of communication, such as infographics, images, videos, and other graphics. It also refers to understanding these means of visual communication. The ability to think of or hear about an idea and draw it on paper falls under this type of communication.
Visual communications, such as signs, logos, and other branding can grab the target audience’s attention. Combining visuals with verbal communication can help make information clearer and easier to understand. Executives, management, professors, and researchers create PowerPoint and Visio presentations that combine graphics with their verbal presentations to better convey their points.
Digital Communication Skills
Speaking of PowerPoint and Visio, they both represent methods of digital communication skills. As technology grows, so does the need to become conversant with the various digital communication options. To communicate digitally, a person needs to know how to use programs like Visio, PowerPoint, and Canva to create presentations, posters, and signs. They also need to know how to communicate using email, social media, forums, chat rooms, messaging programs, such as Slack and Telegram, and video conference apps, such as Zoom and GoToMeeting.
Business people at all levels need these skills, as do CSRs, anyone in technology development, programming, consulting, and independent contractors. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, and paralegals often use these skills, too. These essential communication skills enable employees and customers to communicate in near-real-time or real-time and provide an ideal way to obtain feedback.
The Importance of Developing Communication Skills
Every professional needs to learn each of the five communication skills, but the more advanced a professional position, the greater the need. Learning to customize a message to situations, target audiences, and objectives, improves results. According to Field Engineer, 80% of employers prioritize communication skills as a key employment trait. The career website also states that 97% of hiring managers say an employee needs strong communication skills to perform their job well and achieve long-term success.
Now that you know how essential communication skills have become, let’s consider the key traits within communication that each individual can practice developing. Communicating well creates a better workplace by developing a team-oriented culture. Learning to express yourself clearly and respectfully can help avoid conflicts and help solve problems.
Ten Communication Skills to Hone
Every person can enhance their competitiveness in the market by developing specific communication skills and traits. From active listening to choosing the right method of communication, mastering these skills can make you more competitive, whether you work as a welder or probate lawyer. Let’s consider the 10 skills to target.
1. Active listening: When you actively listen to another individual, you remain mindful of their speech, without interrupting or interjecting. Also called appreciative listening, this communication talent means setting aside your thoughts and listening only to what the other person says, without trying to form your response. Show that you actively listen by rephrasing the person’s message and asking questions about their statement. Note their body language and facial expressions as they speak, as well as, their tone of voice.
To make active listening easier, put away your laptop and cell phone to avoid distractions. Sit directly across from one another. Look the person in the eyes and lean forward to indicate interest in what they say.
2. Choose the proper communication method: It might be easiest for you to pick up the phone and call someone, but consider which method they would most like to receive. A phone interruption during a busy time can do more harm than good. You might not get the time and consideration you need when you use the wrong method, but the right one could get you the answer you want. Consider if email would result in an improved response or send a message on LinkedIn, Slack, or Telegram.
Beyond the essential ways to contact someone, consider how to set up meetings. Instead of using in-person meetings, consider Zoom or GoToMeeting. Consider your audience and how to best reach them in a way in which they’ll be receptive.
Choosing the right way to communicate also means which of the five types of communication you’ll use, namely, verbal, written, visual, or digital. In person, you could use non-verbal queues to motion to a person or indicate they should be quiet. In a business environment, verbal, written, and digital top the list of the most used day-to-day communication skills.
3. Confidence: Confident communication helps get your point across. It shows you believe what you say or write. Make yourself appear more confident by sitting up straight and making eye contact. Prepare your thoughts in advance, so you can clearly communicate your point. Avoid verbal filler words like “you know,” “um,” “er,” etc. to seem more confident.
4. Amity: When you come off as friendly and honest, it helps foster trust between you and others. Keeping a positive attitude and embracing open-mindedness work in tandem with active listening. Although some people abhor small talk, asking co-workers or customers how they’re doing or following up when they mention an upcoming event, can help build rapport. Remembering small details about a person also helps build amity.
5. Provide feedback: In any career, you will eventually get asked for feedback. How effectively you share your constructive feedback determines the results from it. Share specific examples of the problem or issue, and its consequences, and ask questions that could help develop a solution.
Also, learn to accept constructive feedback, something important whether you’re in EMT training or working as a pilot. Responding appropriately when a manager or executive offers feedback on your work can reveal your communication style. Remaining open to improvement shows your willingness to become better and flexible in your methods. When you receive valuable, well-worded feedback, analyze it to determine what made it good and integrate those traits in your next feedback report or presentation.
6. Empathize: When you sympathize, you understand and feel sorry for a person or situation. Having empathy means understanding the situation and feeling the emotions the other person feels. People who can “read people well” typically have a great deal of empathy; they can determine the emotions a person feels and respond appropriately. Doctors, such as plastic surgeons, need to develop empathy for their patients as a part of their bedside manner.
7. Volume and tone: In an office environment, perfect the volume and tone of your voice, so you sound clear, friendly, and respectful. You need to speak loudly enough to be heard, but not so loudly that it seems awkward or disrespectful. Match the tone and volume of your officemates if you remain unsure of the correct volume.
Consider your pitch, too. Which words you emphasize and where you pause while speaking makes a difference. Your tonality influences others’ understanding and interpretation of your message.
8. Respect: Perhaps the most important aspect of respect applied to communication comes from knowing when and how to initiate communication. It also relates to how and when you respond. Allowing people in a meeting to speak without interruption shows respect. So does wisely using the time you communicate with another person by remaining on topic, stating needs efficiently, asking only necessary questions, doing so clearly, and responding to questions asked of you.
9. Nonverbal communication: Master your own body language and facial expressions. Part of learning what not to do comes from observing others’ body language while they speak. Don’t judge a person by their body language, but do observe and learn from those who communicate best with good posture, positive body language, and nonverbal queues that match their verbal statements.
10. Responsiveness: Responding to messages quickly can make a person seem more effective. When you can answer work emails immediately, do so. For complex inquiries, acknowledge the message and let the sender know that you will respond more fully later.
Communication and Your Career
Every career has communication needs. For example, onsite workers at a well drilling company need exemplary verbal communication skills to convey information about setting up oil derricks. A clear, concise mode of speech in a confident tone of voice matters most in the field.
A mechanic who specializes in automatic transmissions needs to excel at in-person communication, verbally and in writing. Both rank as essential communication forms for a mechanic because they need to talk with customers and provide detailed written estimates for customers’ insurance claims. Their non-verbal skills will also contribute to their success by making customers feel comfortable. Developing these soft skills matters almost as much as learning the inner workings of an auto engine.
Before you open a commercial cleaning service or decide to become an x-ray technician, determine which types of communication you most need in the career. Spend time developing those skills while you study your trade. By the time you graduate, your communication savvy can help you land a job since you will have developed consummate verbal and non-verbal skills.