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What exactly are communication skills?

November 29, 2022

You’ve all seen the job description containing some variation on the phrase ‘must possess excellent communication skills’. You may have been praised during a performance review – ‘you’re a great communicator’, or been given feedback to the contrary; ‘we’d like to improve the way you communicate with your team’.

However, have you ever taken a step back and considered what we mean by communication? It’s such an obvious, basic concept, that most of the time we take for granted. Yet, when you start to look at it closely (as we do when creating a communication skills course for instance) you realise how nuanced, complex and challenging effective communication can be. To put it another way: it is easy to be misunderstood. It can be hard to communicate effectively.

A dictionary definition of the word “communication” is: “the ability to convey or share ideas and feelings effectively”. Effective communication is fundamentally about understanding others and being understood. So, how do we communicate?

We cannot not communicate…

We are communicating all the time. With our eyes, body language, how we walk, how we talk. Our thoughts dictate how we are feeling, and how we are feeling influences how we communicate. In a bad mood? This will influence what you say, and how you say it.

We transmit messages…

We say things out loud, in person or on the phone (verbal communication); we slump in a chair, stand up straight or wave our hands around (body language); we write things down, in a text, email or letter (written communication); we smile, laugh or express anger (facial expression). We transmit messages in a variety of different ways – often without even realising it.

We continually receive messages…

We actively listen to different points of view and (more often than not) we respond. How we listen (such as the use of eye contact), and the quality of our listening, is a fundamental part of most training courses. We use our ears to assess noise in our surroundings. We use our eyes to consume information around us. We use our senses to engage with our environment on an emotional level – to make us FEEL something.

Now we understand what communication skills are, we can start to think about the importance of communication skills. Having strong communication skills (especially in the business world) is absolutely crucial to ensuring you can thrive within your workplace. You won’t just get the job done, you’ll get it done to the highest of standards.

Need some advice on how to improve your communication skills in the workplace? Our upcoming blog, ‘How to improve your communication skills’ covers exactly that.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a course to provide you with the complete skill set you need to take your communication skills from ‘good’ to ‘expert mode’ then make sure you check out our communication courses  – click here to view all our communication skills courses

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss communication skills training for yourself, a team member or a whole team, 01392 409 198.