Why and when soft skills matter in leadership: Communication
It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in, people need soft skills to be successful on the job and for your organisation to build longevity. Once technical skills are mastered, soft skills make the most difference both with internal stakeholders and external customers or clients. Three essential soft skills include communication, the ability to build trust and dealing with issues effectively when they arise. Why do they matter and what do they look like?
Being able to get a message across clearly without any misinterpretation is important in any role, which is why communication is key as a soft skill, particularly for leaders. Today, with so much of our communication happening online, it’s much harder to read body language cues like smiles and crossed arms (even during video calls). So, what you say and how you say it is more important than ever before. Here are some tips for good communication:
- Keep it concise. To deliver your message with clarity and impact, stick to the old adage that less is more. This ensures your reader/listener is more likely to understand what you’re saying and remember it later. The more you waffle and circle back to points, the harder it is for people to walk away with a clear idea of what they need to do or be aware of. Just keep in mind that brevity in the written word, can sometimes be viewed as rudeness, so be sure when writing to someone that you keep your intro and close warm and friendly.
- Signpost your key points. When you have important things to say, make it clear what they are at the start of your conversation and summarise them again at the end. If you’re communicating over email then make use of things like bolded text, bullet-pointed lists, and sub-headings. By communicating this way, your listener/reader will know what information to focus in on (even if they’re skim reading).
- Talk to, not at, the other person. Unless you’re giving a presentation, a conversation should involve a bit of back-and-forth. Pausing to give others an opportunity to speak, clarify and ask questions will help ensure you’re on the same page and that each person feels heard. It also goes a long way in terms of getting their buy-in and building trust.
As the way people work continues to change at an accelerated page, developing soft skills are more critical than ever before. Organisations who provide soft skills training report seeing a positive impact – both in peoples’ wellbeing and in organisations’ bottom line – that contributes to business longevity.
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