More and more research is finding that young people starting their careers fail their job interviews because they lack “soft skills” such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, and cooperation.
LinkedIn’s recently published workplace report says that the biggest problem in the workplace is the lack of communication skills – and perhaps an even bigger problem is that most people aren’t even aware of their own shortcomings.
This is the least taught in universities, so everyone is dependent on themselves. Fortunately, these skills can be well developed, learned, and practised on their own. Here are a few tips to help you stand out significantly from other job applicants.
If you are actively listening to what is being said to you, it means that you are devoting your full attention to the speaker, as opposed to sitting only as a passive receiver versus what is being said. According to one research, we listen to another’s speech with an average efficiency of 25%. 25%! Think about how much information, a logical process, and a possible conclusion in such cases escapes your attention.
The most important thing when you want to develop this in yourself is to do thought experiments, question trivial statements. If you think a movie is bad, try to convince yourself otherwise. What could be its value? In the same way, you can choose one of the statements made in school that you think about on the way home, what conclusions led you there, and whether they are correct.
Statistics show that the generation of young people starting their careers understands the signs of nonverbal communication and body language to a lesser extent – they do not show up and therefore do not react to it. However, 50-70% of our communication is provided by body language! This is due to the fact that with the spread of mobiles, we are communicating more and more without seeing or hearing the other, and even in personal communication, we often look at the screen while the other is talking, so we do not even record his body language.
If you make sure you always pay attention and avoid looking on your phone or on your watch so often you’ll have a deeper understanding of the certain topic. If you manage to improve yourself in this area, others will notice and appreciate you more. But it also helps you a lot, as you can understand the tasks and informations more easily, you can do your job better, and you can solve your work more creatively.
If you’re communicating with someone in a one-to-one ratio put down the phone or whatever is in your hand and look into the other’s eyes. Looking down or sideways can be a sign of uncertainty and a lack of information or knowledge, so this is better avoided. However, if you look straight into the other’s eyes, it will send a message that you understand your business, you are confident, so you are more likely to accept what you say as true.
Long pauses, hunks, “sniffs” interrupt the communication process. Whoever turns it off can
easily be assumed to be bluffing or just dragging on time.
A place of silence
Effective communication is like a tennis match, once with the ball, once with me. However, if the punch changes are continuous, the real message can easily be lost. There are silences at the pace of the conversation, but you don’t have to feel embarrassed about it because silence helps to separate individual topics from each other and structure the conversation.
When talking to someone it’s important to show confidence. This way your partner or audience will respect you more. But nobody is born with confidence, you have to learn it. One great way to exercise confidence is by testing it. For example, you can play some blackjack online and try to remain focused and relaxed no matter the outcome of a game.
Everyone is equal
Everyone involved in communication is of equal importance. It is not good if e.g. there is a person who takes the word and puts all his worries and troubles on others. One of the cornerstones of successful and effective communication is reciprocity, otherwise, it would not be a conversation but a monologue.
Whether it is a date or a public speech, it’s good to be prepared. Of course, if you go on a date, you won’t go with all your notes and stuff, but you can learn some get to know questions or remember some funny stories from your past. But if you’re going to talk in front of other people you can bring with you a paper with all the subjects and ideas you want to mention.
You can easily check your own progress by recording at home with a voice recorder in the evening as you tell what the lesson of that day was about, what the arguments were, the main statements, the logical processes. If you do it more than once a month, listen back to the recordings at the end of the month and see how your own summary becomes more coherent and how you can recall more and more!
So what do you need for active listening?
- Full attention
- Lack of judgment
- Clarification of what has been said