Workplace Wellness: Growing Your Communication Competency

As Henderson’s Chief People Officer Mindy Garrett shared in her recent blog, our Learning and Development team launched a program in 2020 to help employees stay connected during the pandemic as our firm transitioned to a remote work environment. Now, as workers and companies adapt to a forever-changed world, we’re sharing these resources externally to help others across the industry thrive in the workplace and beyond.

I’d like to start our series by discussing a core skill that is consistently listed as one of the highest ranked, in-demand skills for just about any job: communication. According the National Association of Colleges and Employers, year after year employers ranked oral/written communication in the topmost essential skills when recruiting new college graduates. A 2018 article on Forbes.com asserts, “Communication is at the core of every business—even an employee who sits by themselves still likely communicates with people, either on the phone or via email.” Not to mention, Warren Buffet insists communication skills are the one thing you need to succeed.

The competency of effective communication, as defined by organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, is developing and delivering multi-mode communications that convey a clear understanding of the unique needs of different audiences. Simply put, effective communicators relay information in a way that clearly gets their point across; they know that what they say matters far less than what their audience hears and understands.

Makes “effective” communication easy, right?

Wrong. We know it’s not that simple. Studies of the nuances and implications of human communication span disciplines from supply chain management, to behavioral science, to organizational psychology, and cross socio-economic, political, and cultural contexts. It is a process, and, for many, a process that takes intention and investment. Consider the following strategies and resources for refining your communication skills.

Ask for feedback. You know who relies on the effectiveness of your communication. Whether it’s physical, verbal, or written – intentional or unintentional – the people who work, live, and play closest with you know what you do well and what areas of your communication style could use some attention. Don’t be afraid to ask for their insight and be open to their critiques.

Take a tip from professional communicators. Henderson’s chief marketing officer Robin Broder leads a course in our Fundamentals training covering the top 10 most important soft professional skills for success. Here are my favorites.

    • Speak and write in headlines: Use active voice and bullets in your writing to make what’s important stand out.
    • Build relationships: Meet face-to-face or in person (or on video conference) as your first line of communication. If that’s not an option, pick up the phone and call. Your last mode of communication should be email/texting. (If you’re worried about record keeping, you can always circle back after a conversation with a recap email.)
    • Be aware of your filters and seek to erase them: If you have a perception of someone (maybe they’ve been difficult to work with in the past), you put everything they say or send you through that filter, and it edits the message you receive. You may miss out on something great because of who it was coming from.

Read a book. There are THOUSANDS of books on all modalities of communication. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Complete an online course. Find an online course that targets the area of communication you would like to improve.

    • LinkedIn Learning offers a free one-month trial and a lot of content around the art of communication.
    • Many universities and community colleges offer virtual versions of their (usually) in-person continuing education courses in professional communication. Check out one example here. Then contact your institution of choice for their course catalog.
    • You can find a variety of other companies offering communication training ranging in cost. Dale Carnegie is a well-known professional development organization with a wide range of courses addressing the whole spectrum of communication skills. Udemy, an online learning broker, offers countless virtual courses to improve communication skills for a modest cost.

Watch a video. We all know there is a how-to video out there for everything. Communication is not left out.

    • Search YouTube or TED talks for relevant and easy to apply tips and strategies to strengthen your skills.

Stay tuned for more Workplace Wellness tips in the coming weeks, or reach out to learn more.

Written By
MINDY GARRETT

Chief People Officer

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