Language & Communication Skills

Why is it difficult to talk with some people and so easy to talk with others? Is communication a skill or an art? Whatever be the type, communication is a competency every professional has no choice but to master. To be a good communicator, do we need to have sound social skills or will language proficiency suffice? Well, both are important.

The four aspects of communication: reading, listening, speaking and writing are equally essential and important. In addition to these four dimensions of language, body language is also a vital aspect. Conversely body language is known as nonverbal communication. Almost all job interviews are based on communication and language competencies. A good presenter can make an impression, a very positive one at that, even if he/she does not demonstrate relevant domain knowledge. I have heard employers state that role-based skills can be developed but not language skills.

The four aspects of communication: reading, listening, speaking and writing are equally essential and important.

`Give me a candidate who can articulate well and write with clarity; we can train him in work skills. With communication getting briefer and quicker in this age of speed, written communication, being the most popular mode of business interaction, needs to be faultless. Written English requires more care than spoken English. Usage of simple and plain words instead of fancy phrases, and short and concise sentences is a pre-requisite of the global communication work culture. Brevity does not imply brusqueness or abruptness. On the one hand, we have to dispense with redundancy in words – we do not say `endeavour to ascertain and accomplish; we just say `try to find out and complete. Jargon, trendy buzzwords, sms-ese, acronyms are all, if featured in written communication, read with impatience and irritation! Mark Twain said, `I never use a word like communication needs to be effective and impacting getting the expected response to achieve results

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Spoken language is critical too, as it involves self confidence, non verbal skills, active listening, expression and a good vocabulary. More important, spoken communication warrants earnestness, without which, the speaker can sound shallow and pretentious. Spoken language is a habit and needs to be cultivated consciously. If picked up and practiced the wrong way, correction and unlearning takes a long time. The reason why people think they can get away with improper and incomplete verbal communication is because the in-person interaction has other aspects like body signs, expression, gestures, interruptions, prompting from listener, and so on. While all these are important for communication, the verbal skills remain the primary focus. Many errors and gaps occur in verbal communication. Verbal or speech tics are those words which are habitually used by the speaker. Do you recall your student days, when you noted down the number of times your teacher uttered – you know, do you understand, okay?

Most of us are not aware of our speech tics and we regularly use them to start a conversation, fill in the gap and at times, as mere expressions. One of my colleagues asked another colleague - so, basically, how are you doing? My other colleague replied - thank you, I am naturally doing well; but, fundamentally you should not be asking me this, because you see me every day! Verbal tics can cause not only annoyance but also fatigue to the listener.

The best way to get rid of this habit is to choose someone who interacts with you closely and have that person give you instant feedback. Like I said, unlearning or breaking a long standing habit takes a while, but in due course of time, with conscious effort, you will have achieved the desired results. There are other conversational irritants such as the hemming and hawing; in other words, hesitation and fumbling in speech. The new age of speed and quickness has no room for classic meeting addresses such as this: er… I attended, hmmm, a meeting with the VP, yes, the VP. Okay? And, and I thought hummm I should share what, uhh what we discussed, so that………. The group members by that time would have exchanged a few phone messages, maybe made couple of quick calls and sent out some emails. And, can we blame them? Clarity, articulation, pace, choice of vocabulary, assertiveness and confidence are the components that make verbal communication highly effective and impactful.

A good communicator is a preferred business leader.

--Nikhil Indrasenan possesses over 18 yrs of entrepreneurial and HR experience in recruitment, consulting & training. He has managed and delivered on assignments across multiple industries / locations and found career opportunities for over 5,000 professionals in his tenure. He currently holds a dual responsibility of Head - Ma Foi Randstad Academy and Country Manager and Director of Ma Foi Randstad Sri Lanka.

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