For most people, we spend a significant portion of our lives focused on finding a professional niche where we fit in and can apply our talents, hopefully rising through the ranks to more money, responsibility and a sense of professional satisfaction. We learn, gain experience, apply what we know, come in early, leave late, make valuable contributions and hopefully, at the end of the day, we are rewarded for it.
But climbing the ladder, corporate or otherwise, is also about how well you are able to transmit information and ideas to those around you. The most brilliant person in the office or on the worksite could end up being the most overlooked if he or she can’t articulate their brilliance and make meaningful connections with coworkers and clients. Below are the main reasons why communication skills are so crucial for career success.
Ideas Are Constrained by Language
There are essentially two versions of any communication: what the sender intends and what the receiver interprets. Knowing how to maximize the overlap here is what sets great communicators apart. Part of accomplishing this involves knowing how to select the right language for any given communication.
This involves a consideration of your audience (e.g., is the language I am using appropriate) and also the language best suited for a given message. If you lack the vocabulary, technical or otherwise, to get your message across, you might just end up transmitting misinformation and confusion. One important thing you can do to ensure your communication is concise and accurate is to never stop building your vocabulary. There are fantastic tools out there to help you add to and sharpen your vocabulary, transforming you into a superior communicator.
They Allow You To Promote Yourself and Your Ideas
Tactful self-promotion is one of the keys to success in many facets of life. There is often a fine line between shameless bragging and respectful and articulate confidence in yourself and your ideas.
In any professional environment, you are competing with your colleagues for accolades and, eventually, promotions. Often it is not only the squeaky wheel that gets the grease but the person who can make the most compelling case for their plan or idea. If you are able to put language together in a way that clearly and convincingly advocates for your proposals and additions to projects, meetings etcetera, there is a good chance they will receive priority.
Global Workplaces Demand Superior Communication Skills
Thanks to the global nature of modern work, with organizations often spread out around the world, in different time zones, and with cosmopolitan workforces from different cultural and language backgrounds, solid communication skills are more important than ever. Cross-cultural communication involves knowing how to adjust both the delivery of messages, as well as the content.
There may be times when your boss, manager or team members, while highly fluent in English, are not native English speakers. This could require adapting the way you communicate with them to ensure nothing is lost as it is translated and interpreted by diverse recipients.
Employers are Hiring for Communication
Not only are good communication skills necessary for career success but, without them, it may be hard to even get your career off the ground. This is in recognition of the fact that communication skills are one of the top 11 skills employers look for in job candidates and are often the most desirable of them all.
Communication skills in an interview are proxies for how you will interact with and relate to coworkers, the kind of customer service experience you will provide if dealing directly with clients and customers, and your ability to take what you have been taught and put it into practice on the job. There are often sophisticated and extensive communication evaluations that are part of many modern job interview processes.
The Emergence of Cross-Functional Teams
Another reason it pays to be constantly improving your communication skills has to do with an additional feature of modern organizations: cross-functionality. While cross-functional teams require several internal supports, including careful structuring, monitoring and auditing to add value, their potential is such that many companies are turning to them for inspiration and creative potential.
The rise of the cross-functional team means that employees are increasingly working with others whose jobs and expertise is different than their own. This requires a heightened ability to communicate clearly and plainly. If you are going to be a productive and high-value cross-functional team member, an ability to speak across knowledge and experience gaps is vital.
Every person communicates differently, but everyone is capable of making dramatic improvements to their communication abilities. Being an effective communicator is not just a professional skill and competency, but an important part of success in every facet of social life. People value good communication skills, whether they possess them themselves or not, and good communicators are respected and consistently sought out. Keep the above communication considerations in mind and maximize your opportunities for career success.