Core Career Competencies Series One:

Benefits of Effective Communication

Why is effective communication important?

The most essential skill to achieving anything in life or navigating through life, and especially in the workplace, is the ability to communicate effectively. An essential part of communicating effectively is the ability to send and receive information in a format understood by the participants. Effective communication skills helps us to understand the world around us; it helps us to get along and understand each other and most of all it helps us to grow as successful individuals.

Miscommunications more often than not are the cause of unnecessary conflict, frustration and pain, due to poor or lack of communication either on the part of the speaker, the listener or both. The speaker may be unclear about a point and thus is unclear in presenting their point, as a result the listener receives unclear information that is then difficult to process or may be processed incorrect to the initial intent. It is even possible for the speaker to present clear and logical information that is miscommunicated. This happens when the information does not cater to its audience, the listener.

I have learned a lot about miscommunication. The majority of my experiences have focused primarily on events with my son who has Autism. For example, I would tell him to go to bed and he would go to his bed. However, ten minutes later when I checked up on him I would find him awake playing in his bed. His response to my surprise would be that I hadn't instructed him to go to sleep. I had simply asked him to go to his bed. Nuances are another cause of miscommunications. He is 100% correct. I hadn't been clear in the information I presented to him, hence the miscommunication.

This is an example of a simple case, that had very little consequence or impact. However, there are cases where miscommunications have caused people to lose their jobs; prevent people from achieving a promotion or caused a war. Miscommunications can be avoided if you understand how they happen.

Key Ingredients to effective communication

Rule of thumb: Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
Rule of thumb: Don't think your opinion is the reigning rule.

Active Listening:

This requires a commitment to be engaging, through reciprocal interaction, objectiveness and supportive feedback. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Where 'hearing' requires a passive interaction, listening' requires a more involved interaction that is displayed through body language and cognitive awareness. Effectively listening requires a commitment to shutting out distractions and a mental focus on the speaker. It also requires that the listener use appropriate body language that mimics the speakers in a flattering way and signals interest. It also requires appropriate use of questions at the appropriate time. That means not interrupting the speaker or responding with praise or criticism at inappropriate times.

Effective active listening skills includes the following:

-be aware of emotions, biases and prejudices that create barriers to listening
-a personal commitment to be open minded, focused and engaged with interest
-focus on the speaker by making eye contact and sitting upright and alert
-respond appropriately by reframing ideas discussed to illicit clarification
-use words that signify interest to the speaker
-smile, nod appropriately
-be respectful and courteous


Sounds strange to hear that speaking is active? Active speaking is as important as active listening in effectively communicating information. Active speaking requires a personal commitment to engage the listener by relaying informative information in an interesting and captivating way. Not just speaking words from a cue card or rattling out memorized suppositions and ideas to a listener, but rather capturing the listeners undivided attention.

Key ways of actively speaking includes the following:

-know your audience and tailor the information being presented to suit them.
-know the specific teaching principles for your audience
-know the types of learning
-know the communication types
-know the tools and games to keep your audience engaged
-illicit feedback
-check for understanding
-be clear, articulate and concise

Effective communication requires that the speaker and listener be in tune. The verbal and body language messages relayed by the speaker must be interesting to the listener who must relay the same messages. Body language is an important aspect of effective communication and it is one that most people utilize and depend upon to understand the information being communicated.
If you are a parent disciplining a teenager or a boss during a performance feedback session, you've probably encountered defensive body language. The act may throw you off your game and you may feel threatened or challenged, mirroring how the listener feels. Someone has to break the mould by effectively communicating to ensure the information to be communicated gets communicated effectively, so that it is understood.

Effective body language communication includes the following:

-speaker (be self-aware of body language and words for prejudice or bias etc.)
-Listener (be self-aware of body language and words for prejudice or bias etc.)
-Both listener and speaker must be emphatic, supportive, and understanding
-Both listener and speaker should smile warmly and make eye contact
-Listener may lean forward towards the speaker or sit up straight, if necessary
-Speaker should be engaging as much as possible to illicit interest.

Effective communication is incredibly important in today's global movement towards free an open markets and the trend towards a global work place, which creates a high demand for globally aware and specialized staff. Having effective communication skills, is a valuable and desirable competency, no matter what field you're in. It reflects traits that are valued in other competencies, such as a team player, a great communicator, a negotiator and a problem solver. Like great leaders, great communicators are born. However, the skill is teachable and learnable. With dedication, perseverance and practice, you can eventually become a great communicator. I highly suggest Effective communication skills as a primary competency to achieving success in the workplace.

This is the first article on my series of essential core competencies. Stay tuned for future Articles in the series.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Auguste is a graduate of Social Work, Sociology and Political Science, and Life Coaching in Training.

Sharon is the Group Program Coordinator for Women Empowering Girls and a Life Coach and Career Mentor for Get Your Groove Back.