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Good Communication Skills Are Crucial

Good communication skills arc crucial regardless of what position you hold at your workplace Communication is the heart of everything you do in the workplace. Therefore, good reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are essential if tasks are to be completed and goals achieved. As you develop your career, you will find various reasons why effective communication skills are important. For example, they help you to:

Secure An Interview

A well-written job application letter will stand a better chance of grabbing the attention of your potential employer.

Get The Job

You need to speak and listen well during a job interview if you want to sell yourself and get the job you want.

Do Your Job Well

In almost every job, you need to ask for information, discuss problems, give instructions, work in teams, and interact with colleagues and clients. To achieve cooperation and effective teamwork, good people skills are essential. Also, as the workplace becomes more global, it is important to know how to communicate well in a diverse environment.

Advance In Your Career

Employers want staff who can think for themselves, use initiative, solve problems and are interested in the long-term success of the company. If you want to be seen as a valued member of the company, it is important not just to be able to do your job well, but also to communicate your thoughts on how the company's work processes and products or services can be improved.

Are You Listening?

Poor listening habits are often the cause of communication breakdowns, mainly because many people do not think of listening as a communication skill. But it is. The first thing to realise about listening is that it is not the same as hearing, and it is not waiting for your turn to speak.


Hearing involves only your ears, and you do it automatically. Sound hits the eardrum and resolves itself into words or musical notes you recognise. Since there are sounds all around you constantly, you have learnt to filter out those you do not want to hear - such as traffic in the street or the people at the next table in a restaurant.


Listening, on the other hand, is a conscious act. To be an effective communicator, you must decide to listen each time you enter an important business discussion. The act of deciding to listen switches off the filter so that you can concentrate on what  the other person is saying.

Three Reasons Why Listening Is Important

Listening Keeps You Informed

People who complain that nobody ever tells them anything should consider their listening habits. If you feel you are always the last to know, or you are out of the loop, perhaps you are simply not listening.

Listening Keeps You Out Of Trouble

Many people spend most of their working time taking and acting on instructions. Serious consequences can arise when instructions are misinterpreted, often because the person being instructed did not listen effectively.

Good Listeners Are Valued

Have you ever had the experience of someone paying close, respectful attention as you spoke - hanging on to your every word? Did it not make you feel special and valued, as if your opinion mattered? People want to feel that way, whether they are in position of authority or not. So they appreciate those who truly listen to them. Knowledge is power, and often the best way to get it is simply to listen.

The Art Of Questioning

People are often surprised when I point out that asking questions is actually a listening skill. If I am asking a question, am I not talking, rather than listening? Well, you are actually talking for the purpose of listening. There are two types of question you use as part of the listening process: closed-ended and open-ended.

A closed-ended question can be answered with "yes" or "no", or with another single word. A one-word answer, however, is not enough for an open-ended question; it needs some words of explanation. A lively listener knows how to make use of both types of questions to elicit information and guide a discussion. This is how you can do it:

Closed-Ended Questions

Ask closed-ended questions when you want confirmation:
  • Have you received the third-quarter sales figures yet? (Answer: 'Ives" or "nn")
  • Who is responsible for compiling the monthly sales report? (Answer: "Jonathan")
  • How many people will be attending the strategy meeting? (Answer: "six"). 

These one-word answers give you all the information you need.

Open-Ended Questions

Consider, on the other hand, the following open-ended questions:
  • We have agreed we have a major problem competing with the established brand in our marketplace. How can we make people notice our house brands?
  • You have told us how well the new purchasing model is working in the eastern division. How do you see it working in the other regions?

These questions call for more details, serving to expand the discussion. Make a point of using the right mix of questions to confirm facts and obtain information, and you will automatically become a better listener.

Avoid Selective Listening

Are you guilty of listening to only what you want to hear? Imagine if you had just finished a job interview, and the interviewer said, "You seem well qualified for the job, and I like your attitude. I will get back to you when I have interviewed the other 10 candidates."

And let us say you were surprised when you did not get the job. Why? Because you listened only to what you wanted to hear, and conveniently ignored mention of the stiff competition. In business, as in life, you cannot afford to practise selective listening. The fact that you ignore the bad news does not make it go away.

In fact, things might well become worse if you act on just one part of a complex message. One reason you listen selectively is because you do not listen to the end of what the other person is saying. Someone says half a sentence, and you immediately leap to the end, assuming you know what he is about to say, and so you do not listen to the rest. Has anyone ever done this when you were speaking?

If so, then you know how annoying it is. A common cause of selective listening is personal bias against the speaker. It is tempting to discount the opinions of people you simply do not like. If you feel yourself mentally switching off when a certain person begins to speak, you are guilty of selective listening. Remember, the information may be valid and useful, even if the person delivering it is never going to be your best friend. So listen up.


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