Communication Skills at Work, Part 2
What Else Do Employers Want?
Research from a project at Johns Hopkins University shows that good communication skills mean more than just being able to speak well. The SCANS 2000 Center is comprised of an interdisciplinary research group at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). According to SCANS, employers want to hire individuals who can work on teams, teach others, serve customers, lead, negotiate, and work well with people from culturally diverse background. These and other job competencies are listed on the SCANS 2000 web site. (Note: this link will open a new browser window. Close the window to return to additudemag.com)
The Colorado Department of Education, like many other states, has developed a list of workplace competencies for students. Communication skills, defined as "the ability to receive and relay information clearly and effectively" is at the top of the list. These skills include:
- listening - receives, attends to, understands and responds to verbal and nonverbal messages
- speaking - clearly organizes and effectively presents ideas orally
- reading - locates, understands, and interprets written information in prose and documents to perform tasks
- writing - organizes and effectively presents ideas and information in writing
- interpreting - delineates and analyzes oral and written information and synthesizes information into a conclusion
- negotiating - works toward agreement while maintaining position
- persuading - communicates ideas to justify position, overcome resistance, and convince others
How Do I Do This?
- Medications help. Your medications may help you stay focused, but they can't make you an interesting conversationalist over night. Still, proper medication will allow you to control the impulsivity and lack of focus that tend to create problems with communication.
- Hire a Coach A coach can help you learn what is appropriate, how to present ideas and how to better interact with others.
- Cues from a friend If you're in a meeting or other situation where it is appropriate for a friend to be in the same conversation, ask him or her to give you clues if the topic gets off track or the conversation has run its course.
- Become aware of your communication style. You can video tape a conversation with a friend (get their permission first) to see how you interact with others. What you see may surprise you! Later, when you're in a conversation, remember those images. Don't just watch yourself - learn to look for signals that the other person is ready to change subjects or end the conversation.
Improved communication skills not only open up better employment opportunities. Mastering the art of polite conversation helps in all areas of social interaction - jobs, relationships, education... you name it. Communication is the key.