The power of effective communication is amazing. A company that clearly communicates their strategy can get everyone working towards the same goal. Alternatively, a company that has a lack of communicate strategy clearly isn’t going to get good buy-in from the folks that work there because they don’t know the vision.
If you’ve seen someone who delivers a speech that moves you to do something, you’ve seen powerful communication in action. Someone who is able to motivate others through the effectiveness of delivering a message is quite powerful indeed. When it gives you tingles, you know it’s great.
I realized the power of communication way back in my days as a Kinko’s store manager. I can’t really describe how many orders didn’t turn out the way they should have due to lack of communication. This happened both when a customer would not clearly explain what they were wanting as well as the co-worker who didn’t effectively communicate what our capabilities were. The majority of these mistakes boiled down to a lack of communication.
We’ve all read about how you have to speak up to get what you want. If you are in a relationship and don’t effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner, chances are you won’t receive those wants and needs. This is true in just about any situation. The same thing is true at work. If you don’t communicate what you want out of a career or what is important to you, chances are it will drastically impact your career. A lack of communication at work can have a detrimental effect in many ways.
Stating what you want isn’t selfish, it’s required for you to have the relationship or career that you want. The ability to communicate well is a huge bonus in helping you attain the career you want.
How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career
If you think about it, every day at work you are building your reputation. As you gain experience in your field, you are also building your name. Your name, your reputation, your status, your character, and your standing in your company and field are being created each and every day by what you do. Or by what you don’t do.
You might become known as someone who gets things done. Maybe you’re the person that always has a creative solution. When an important project comes up it might be your name that comes to mind to lead the team.
If you have poor communication skills or a lack of communication, your name probably isn’t the one that comes to mind when that big project comes up. Or a fat raise. Not to mention a promotion. Here are some reasons why:
You won’t get the support or tools you need to succeed.
How do you expect to get the tools and resources you need to do the best possible work if you aren’t able to communicate it? You can’t!
A lack of communication will keep you with whatever resources you have. It’s up to you to know what you need to be successful in your job and communicate that need.
One of the biggest ones is ongoing development of your work skills. You have to stay on top of what’s current (and ask for it) or you won’t stay relevant in your field. This happens a lot in dynamic industries such as technology.
There’s a good possibility you’ll be misunderstood.
When you aren’t able to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. It’s much easier for people to misunderstand what you mean or your position on something if you lack communication skills.
If you are unable to get your point across, it’s easy for your coworkers to simply assume what you mean, whether they are right or not.
A lack of communication greatly increases the chances you will be misunderstood.
You could get left out or misinformed.
People who are poor communicators or lack communication skills tend to be bad listeners.
Bad listeners do not pay as much attention to what’s being said as they should. They also wind up interrupting a lot and jump to their own conclusions without really knowing what’s going on.
These type people find themselves getting left out of more and more conversations because their coworkers get tired of dealing with them.
Nobody likes to work with someone who interrupts all the time and never really listens. After a while the only person they have left to talk to is themselves.
Lack of communication creates doubt and uncertainty.
This is especially true if you are a manager of people. A lack of communication to your team can create a lot of uncertainty.
I know people who weren’t really sure what they were responsible for in their roles because their manager never communicated goals and expectations.
Unfortunately this is not uncommon. This holds true even with working with other people.
If you aren’t able to communicate to others what you are doing or what’s going on, you are going to instill doubt.
Your lack of communication can lead to rumors and gossip.
When we don’t hear about something, it’s human nature to fill in the blanks with our own version. We don’t like uncertainty so will solve the mystery ourselves when we have a lack of communication from someone we work with.
Your annual review is 2 months overdue and you haven’t heard anything from your boss? They might be considering eliminating your position. One of your coworkers is always out of the office on Friday afternoons? They probably get special treatment for some reason.
See how this lack of communication can cause rumors and speculation?
Now that we’ve looked at some ways that a lack of communication can drastically impact your career, let’s look at how you can improve your communication skills.
10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills
When you think about improving your communication skills at work you need to look at the primary ways we communicate, verbal and written.
Let’s take a look at how to improve both your written and verbal communication skills.
1. Less is more
Have you ever walked out of a meeting and felt like the other person spoke the whole time and you learned nothing? Don’t be that person.
When you speak at work make it short and sweet. It’s fine to catch up and talk about the weather but when it’s time to talk about the important stuff, don’t overload your audience with a word avalanche.
2. Be a good listener
It may seem funny to be a good listener in order to be a good communicator but it actually makes sense.
When you show that you actually listen and care about what other people are saying it shows that you understand their needs. This enables you to build trust in the relationship. It’s key.
3. Be confident
When you speak with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about.
This isn’t just about verbal, it’s also about your body language. Speak in a clear tone of voice and maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This conveys your confidence.
4. Think before you open your mouth
When you have a fairly good idea of what you are going to say before you actually speak, you are able to convey your ideas more clearly. This also helps you eliminate longer pauses when you are speaking.
Ever read the Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”? Sage words from an incredibly wise man.
This is so true at work as well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and simply so other people can understand you. Critical.
6. Check your grammar and spelling
This is number one for a reason. At work, it is vitally important that you do not have grammatical errors in your written communication. This includes reports as well as emails.
Having typos peppered into your written communication makes others think that you are too lazy or sloppy to care about spelling. Bad news.
7. Clear and concise
This is just as important in written as it is in verbal.
Most of us receive way too many emails at work. Nobody likes wading through seas of information to find the one or two points they need. There’s no need to put a lot of filler in when less will do.
8. Know your audience
If you are composing an email to the President of your company, you should write in a certain tone.
If the email is to your coworker that you have lunch with every day and go get after work drinks on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need to be as formal.
Write to your audience.
9. Use structure
This goes along with being clear and concise. If you write emails in one long paragraph consisting of 1,000 words, you are making your readers eyes glaze over.
Use things like subheadings, bullet points, and numbering when needed to break up the words and create some nice structure that flows. This is true in any written documentation whether it be reports, emails, or something else.
10. Use names
To make it more friendly and engaging, use your audience names when possible. Obviously you can’t do this in a formal report but with emails and similar you sure can.
I have found that wrapping up with someone’s name also helps them respond in a more timely and positive manner. Something like:
“As you can see Jim, this will go a long way to helping us get the Morris account, I look forward to hearing back from you soon”.
Strong Communication Makes Your Career Better
When you develop strong communication skills, it can help your career in many ways.
First of all, strong communication skills show confidence in yourself and your ideas. This is a great quality to have in general and certainly at work. When you are confident in your abilities, it makes others see you as a leader.
Strong communication skills helps you get your points across. When you can clearly and concisely state your view on important points, you are clearly understood. When you are clearly understood, it helps others buy into your ideas easier.
Possessing the ability to convey what you need effectively will help you get the tools and resources you need to do your job the best you can. When you can articulate to your boss that going to a conference helps you stay at the top of your game, you’ve got a good chance of going.
If your boss is like mine, he or she will make you show the ROI (return on investment) for getting new resources. Not hard to do if you can communicate well.
Having good communication is a skill senior leadership looks for in others to help lead teams. I know I’ve been around managers who lead a team but are bad a communicating goals, processes, and expectations. It leads to under performing groups and subpar results. Not exactly leadership material.
If you are a leader, then having strong communication skills is critical to getting others to follow your vision. Working for a leader with poor communication skills to share their vision only leads to a boat going in circles. Who wants to be on that ride?
We’ve explored how a lack of communication can drastically impact your career. When you show a lack of communication, it can drastically impact how successful a career you have.
Speak up to get what you want. Having strong communication skills can help you do just that.
Let’s communicate, people!