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Published on October 4, 2018

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

The power of effective communication is amazing. A company that clearly communicates their strategy can get everyone working towards the same goal. Alternatively, a company that has a lack of communicate strategy clearly isn’t going to get good buy-in from the folks that work there because they don’t know the vision.

If you’ve seen someone who delivers a speech that moves you to do something, you’ve seen powerful communication in action. Someone who is able to motivate others through the effectiveness of delivering a message is quite powerful indeed. When it gives you tingles, you know it’s great.

I realized the power of communication way back in my days as a Kinko’s store manager. I can’t really describe how many orders didn’t turn out the way they should have due to lack of communication. This happened both when a customer would not clearly explain what they were wanting as well as the co-worker who didn’t effectively communicate what our capabilities were. The majority of these mistakes boiled down to a lack of communication.

We’ve all read about how you have to speak up to get what you want. If you are in a relationship and don’t effectively communicate your wants and needs to your partner, chances are you won’t receive those wants and needs. This is true in just about any situation. The same thing is true at work. If you don’t communicate what you want out of a career or what is important to you, chances are it will drastically impact your career. A lack of communication at work can have a detrimental effect in many ways.

Stating what you want isn’t selfish, it’s required for you to have the relationship or career that you want. The ability to communicate well is a huge bonus in helping you attain the career you want.

How a Lack of Communication Can Drastically Impact Your Career

If you think about it, every day at work you are building your reputation. As you gain experience in your field, you are also building your name. Your name, your reputation, your status, your character, and your standing in your company and field are being created each and every day by what you do. Or by what you don’t do.

You might become known as someone who gets things done. Maybe you’re the person that always has a creative solution. When an important project comes up it might be your name that comes to mind to lead the team.

If you have poor communication skills or a lack of communication, your name probably isn’t the one that comes to mind when that big project comes up. Or a fat raise. Not to mention a promotion. Here are some reasons why:

You won’t get the support or tools you need to succeed.

How do you expect to get the tools and resources you need to do the best possible work if you aren’t able to communicate it? You can’t!

A lack of communication will keep you with whatever resources you have. It’s up to you to know what you need to be successful in your job and communicate that need.

One of the biggest ones is ongoing development of your work skills. You have to stay on top of what’s current (and ask for it) or you won’t stay relevant in your field. This happens a lot in dynamic industries such as technology.

There’s a good possibility you’ll be misunderstood.

When you aren’t able to articulate your thoughts and ideas clearly, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. It’s much easier for people to misunderstand what you mean or your position on something if you lack communication skills.

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If you are unable to get your point across, it’s easy for your coworkers to simply assume what you mean, whether they are right or not.

A lack of communication greatly increases the chances you will be misunderstood.

You could get left out or misinformed.

People who are poor communicators or lack communication skills tend to be bad listeners.

Bad listeners do not pay as much attention to what’s being said as they should. They also wind up interrupting a lot and jump to their own conclusions without really knowing what’s going on.

These type people find themselves getting left out of more and more conversations because their coworkers get tired of dealing with them.

Nobody likes to work with someone who interrupts all the time and never really listens. After a while the only person they have left to talk to is themselves.

Lack of communication creates doubt and uncertainty.

This is especially true if you are a manager of people. A lack of communication to your team can create a lot of uncertainty.

I know people who weren’t really sure what they were responsible for in their roles because their manager never communicated goals and expectations.

Unfortunately this is not uncommon. This holds true even with working with other people.

If you aren’t able to communicate to others what you are doing or what’s going on, you are going to instill doubt.

Your lack of communication can lead to rumors and gossip.

When we don’t hear about something, it’s human nature to fill in the blanks with our own version. We don’t like uncertainty so will solve the mystery ourselves when we have a lack of communication from someone we work with.

Your annual review is 2 months overdue and you haven’t heard anything from your boss? They might be considering eliminating your position. One of your coworkers is always out of the office on Friday afternoons? They probably get special treatment for some reason.

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See how this lack of communication can cause rumors and speculation?

Now that we’ve looked at some ways that a lack of communication can drastically impact your career, let’s look at how you can improve your communication skills.

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

When you think about improving your communication skills at work you need to look at the primary ways we communicate, verbal and written.

Let’s take a look at how to improve both your written and verbal communication skills.

Verbal

1. Less is more

Have you ever walked out of a meeting and felt like the other person spoke the whole time and you learned nothing? Don’t be that person.

When you speak at work make it short and sweet. It’s fine to catch up and talk about the weather but when it’s time to talk about the important stuff, don’t overload your audience with a word avalanche.

2. Be a good listener

It may seem funny to be a good listener in order to be a good communicator but it actually makes sense.

When you show that you actually listen and care about what other people are saying it shows that you understand their needs. This enables you to build trust in the relationship. It’s key.

3. Be confident

When you speak with confidence, it shows that you know what you are talking about.

This isn’t just about verbal, it’s also about your body language. Speak in a clear tone of voice and maintain eye contact when speaking with someone. This conveys your confidence.

4. Think before you open your mouth

When you have a fairly good idea of what you are going to say before you actually speak, you are able to convey your ideas more clearly. This also helps you eliminate longer pauses when you are speaking.

5. Concise

Ever read the Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”? Sage words from an incredibly wise man.

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This is so true at work as well. You have to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly and simply so other people can understand you. Critical.

Written

6. Check your grammar and spelling

This is number one for a reason. At work, it is vitally important that you do not have grammatical errors in your written communication. This includes reports as well as emails.

Having typos peppered into your written communication makes others think that you are too lazy or sloppy to care about spelling. Bad news.

7. Clear and concise

This is just as important in written as it is in verbal.

Most of us receive way too many emails at work. Nobody likes wading through seas of information to find the one or two points they need. There’s no need to put a lot of filler in when less will do.

8. Know your audience

If you are composing an email to the President of your company, you should write in a certain tone.

If the email is to your coworker that you have lunch with every day and go get after work drinks on a weekly basis, you probably don’t need to be as formal.

Write to your audience.

9. Use structure

This goes along with being clear and concise. If you write emails in one long paragraph consisting of 1,000 words, you are making your readers eyes glaze over.

Use things like subheadings, bullet points, and numbering when needed to break up the words and create some nice structure that flows. This is true in any written documentation whether it be reports, emails, or something else.

10. Use names

To make it more friendly and engaging, use your audience names when possible. Obviously you can’t do this in a formal report but with emails and similar you sure can.

I have found that wrapping up with someone’s name also helps them respond in a more timely and positive manner. Something like:

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“As you can see Jim, this will go a long way to helping us get the Morris account, I look forward to hearing back from you soon”.

How Strong Communication Make Your Career Better

When you develop strong communication skills, it can help your career in many ways.

First of all, strong communication skills show confidence in yourself and your ideas. This is a great quality to have in general and certainly at work. When you are confident in your abilities, it makes others see you as a leader.

Strong communication skills helps you get your points across. When you can clearly and concisely state your view on important points, you are clearly understood. When you are clearly understood, it helps others buy into your ideas easier.

Possessing the ability to convey what you need effectively will help you get the tools and resources you need to do your job the best you can. When you can articulate to your boss that going to a conference helps you stay at the top of your game, you’ve got a good chance of going.

If your boss is like mine, he or she will make you show the ROI (return on investment) for getting new resources. Not hard to do if you can communicate well.

Having good communication is a skill senior leadership looks for in others to help lead teams. I know I’ve been around managers who lead a team but are bad a communicating goals, processes, and expectations. It leads to under performing groups and subpar results. Not exactly leadership material.

If you are a leader, then having strong communication skills is critical to getting others to follow your vision. Working for a leader with poor communication skills to share their vision only leads to a boat going in circles. Who wants to be on that ride?

Conclusion

We’ve explored how a lack of communication can drastically impact your career. When you show a lack of communication, it can drastically impact how successful a career you have.

Speak up to get what you want. Having strong communication skills can help you do just that.

Let’s communicate, people!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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