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Strong Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are an increasingly sought after skill. If you’re looking to be a key contributor to your team and project/s, move up the ladder, or will be ending a position and re-entering the job market, it is important to engage in communication skills development.

Five ways you can improve your communications skills:

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.  You can ask a Lead or Manager for their top 1-2 suggestions on ways you could enhance your communication.  Also, write down some open-ended questions, and have someone you trust record you while you answer those.  Evaluate how you answered the questions, including your body language, tone, verbiage/word choices, etc. Consider your “attitude” during delivery.  Do you make a lot of negative comments?  Also, evaluate how long it takes you to answer each question.  Are you a bit of a “tangent talker?”  Is there a way to make your message and delivery more concise.

  2. Determine a couple learning channels/resources that provide quality communication training content.  Consult with your Manager, peers, internal training team, individuals in your technical community, or others to determine any resources they’ve used that have good soft skill training.  Write a list and check out 1-2 of those resources in the next week. 

  3. Create a plan.  Learning and skills development is one of those tasks that might continuously fall to the bottom of your to do list, so if you want to improve, you need to have a plan and stick to it.  Make SMART goals when drafting.  Identify 2-3 areas you want to focus on first, and invest time each week towards improving those skills. 

  4. Execute on plan for 2-3 months.  Our Vice President of T&D has said it takes about 2 months to really develop and strengthen a skill, so you can use that timeframe as a guideline if you’d like.  Continue to follow your plan and invest 1-2+ hours a week to training and development.   

  5. Capture continuous feedback and continue to evolve. No skill is ever fully perfected, and that’s especially true with communication!  We also believe in “strength maintenance” when it comes to skills; i.e. continuing to invest time and energy into your strengths so those skills remain strong.  Whenever you see an opportunity, such as after an important deliverable has been submitted, during a performance review, etc. ask your key stakeholders and Managers for feedback, and suggestions on ways you could better communicate and/or provide more value.