Ask an expert: how to improve your communication skills

Here are a few pointers to give you a competitive edge.

Your credentials don’t matter as much as your ability to articulate, connect with and influence others. Can you pitch an idea? Build rapport with a client or consensus among your team? Here are a few communication pointers to give you the competitive edge.

Practise higher-order communication. Not all communication happens effectively along lower-order channels, such as email, social media and text messages. When we need to resolve a conflict or convey a complicated idea, we can’t afford for our higher-order communication skills to be rusty. Keep your real-time skills sharp to successfully tackle high-stakes situations.

Talk (and type) like your grandmother is watching. Words can damage our relationships at lightning speed. A blurted retort, a thoughtless email or a hasty remark can land you in hot water. Acting as if someone you respect is looking over your shoulder will give you a pause to get in front of ill-advised words and provide space to self-correct when you’re agitated or confused.

Expect less from technology and more from people.
A tech-centered view encourages us to expect too much from our devices and too little from each other. We assume that hitting send means we’ve communicated, when really, the other person may not have understood the message. Even with the most powerful connection and transmission devices, communication doesn’t happen until the recipient understands what you’re saying.

Listen like you’re getting paid for it.
People tell us what they value, want and worry about, but we’re often too busy thinking about who just texted us to absorb what they’re saying. Listening will help you become a much better communicator and become far more knowledgeable about people you work with.