Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

You can avoid common mistakes on the job by following these suggestions

Being a good communicator is important in almost every job. Certainly every job interview is your chance to convey to another person that you have the skills they’re looking for, so that they hire you over your competition. But once you have a job, it’s still important to show your employer and your colleagues that you are attentive, receptive, and responsible. Communication skills are how you demonstrate that, in small gestures throughout your day.

We’re created this post to share a few simple things you can do to help improve your communication skills.

Common pitfalls

Here are some behaviors that you should avoid:

  1. Showing up late
    Showing up late—for work, for a meeting, for a phone call—indicates a lack of respect for the other person. It also makes it seem that you’re not organized or conscientious enough to be on time. Being late to an interview is a sign to any potential employer that you could be unreliable and that you are likely show up late to work.
  2. Being messy, untidy, or unclean
    Make sure you don’t look sloppy or dress inappropriately. If your job requires attention to detail, then your outfit should also reflect care and attention. Make sure your outfit has no stains or holes.
  3. Seeming distracted
    If you’re constantly looking down, checking your phone, chewing gum, or fidgeting, this can give the impression that you’re not paying attention and would rather be somewhere else. Keep your phone out of sight, so you’re not tempted to check it. Make sure it is on “silent” or is turned off when you’re at work.
  4. Using disrespectful language
    Don’t fall into negative talk or complain about your employers (current or past), teachers, or colleagues. Even if you’ve had a bad experience, speaking negatively alerts the person you are talking to that you might do the same thing about them.
  5. Being self-absorbed
    Remember: it’s not all about you! A good colleague listens and interacts respectfully with colleagues and supervisors. Don’t immediately start talking about what you need and want from a given situation. Find out what those on your team need as well. Over time people will feel they can trust and respect you to “have their back.”

Communication in job seeking

Communication skills can also make a difference in terms of looking for a job. Your communications with potential employers should be thoughtful and consistent. Don’t write things on your resume that you aren’t prepared to expand upon in an interview. You should be able to talk in more detail about the position you’re applying for and why you’re the right fit for the role. Do a little background research on the company or your interviewer, to demonstrate you are proactive, organized, and care about this position in particular.

Be aware of body language

Body language, tone of voice, and physical presentation reinforces what you say in words. A smile makes you seem more friendly and approachable. Maintaining eye contact gives the impression that you have good social skills, are focused, and listen. Dressing appropriately (especially at a job interview) demonstrates confidence and professionalism.

Above all, a good communicator is thoughtful about every impression and interaction. If you’re waiting for a meeting or job interview to start, don’t pick up your phone and look down. Instead, take the opportunity to look around, observe the situation around you, and think of a question to ask. This will make you to seem interested, instead of bored.

We hope these suggestions have been helpful to you, as you focus on improving your communications skills. At Branford Hall, we help our students every step of the journey toward a new career, from resume building to preparing for your first job interview. Students should contact our Career Services department for practical guidance and support, so you find the job that’s right for you.

This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We care about the professional development of all our students. Reach out to us for more information about our various training programs, or to schedule a tour of one of our eleven campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.