Communication is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills that is linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like communication can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like communication through regular peer-to-peer feedback.

What Is Communication

Definition of Communication: Clearly conveys information to others (written or verbal).

Communication is the foundation to make you a better listener, more open-minded, and approachable. In team settings, communication can make or break a project. Teams with poor communication will find themselves distrusting each other, avoid collaborative opportunities, and indirectly cause project delays. On the other hand, teams with fluid communication move faster, take more risks together, and collaborate more effectively because they share and believe in the same vision.

Inspiring Communicators You May Know

Maya Angelou: As a child, Angelou stopped speaking for five years after a traumatic personal experience. She later learned to lean into her vulnerabilities and open up to her audience. She developed communication skills to deliver what many would consider being some of the most powerful words of the century. One example is On the Pulse of Morning, which she delivered at the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

Melissa Reiff: As the newly appointed CEO of The Container Store, Reiff instituted “Communication is leadership” as one of the core values of the company. This core value instills an active daily practice of communication for everyone in the organization. By creating a culture of constant communication, team members of The Container Store felt that they were a vital part of the company’s success.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Known for speaking with empathy and appealing to the hearts of his crowd, Dr. King left a lasting mark on this country by using his platform to champion civil rights in the United States. King’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech has been recognized for its ability to connect with listeners, opening their minds to new possibilities, and inspiring a shared vision of a better future.

Why Communication Is Important

  • Collaboration: To effectively work with others, you need to be able to clearly communicate your ideas and plans. Better communication means better collaborative and effective efforts at solving the right problems.
  • Coaching: In order to help others learn and develop new skills, leaders must be able to share candid feedback and knowledge in a way that will foster understanding and confidence.
  • Expectation Setting: Every professional has the desire to understand the scope and what success looks like for their role and projects. Everyone benefits when expectations are communicated clearly and agreed upon.

What Communication Isn’t About

  • Being The Loudest: Communication is a two-way street. Speaking more than listening doesn’t make you a good communicator. You can unintentionally come across as inconsiderate when you don’t give room for others to speak.
  • Making Assumptions: If your team has to read between the lines to try to fill in the blanks, then you haven’t communicated properly. Good communicators demonstrate empathy. They often invite their peers to ask for clarification and follow-up questions.
  • Power: Withholding information isn’t helpful for you or your team. Communication is all about transparency. Good communicators proactively share information that can benefit their peers, company, and everyone involved.

Abilities That Lead To The Mastery of Communication

Asking Open-ended Questions: Open-ended questions are those that can’t be answered with a ”yes” or ”no.” They generate discussion and yield insight. By asking open-ended questions, you avoid making assumptions and get far more interesting insights.

Being Clear and Concise: Good communication is much more than saying the right thing; it is about communicating messages clearly and concisely. Before you start a conversation, type an email or begin a discussion, have in mind what the purpose of the communication is and what information you hope to obtain as a result.

Being Open-minded: It’s important to communicate without having an agenda. You want to have an open mind and a commitment to understanding other people’s points of view. If you disagree with a peer, take a step back and hear them out. An open mind will more likely result in a successful resolution.

Interpreting Body Language: The most successful leaders are always paying attention to people’s nonverbal cues. When you’re able to read thoughts and sentiments that aren’t revealed by a person’s words, you will increase your communication skills.

Listening Effectively: Good communication is all about listening effectively. Take the time to listen to what the other person is saying and practice active listening. Pay attention to what the other person is saying, ask questions and clarify points, and rephrase what they have said so that you know you have understood correctly.

Projecting Confidence: Confidence (but not over-confidence) is crucial in communicating. Projecting confidence will give people faith in your abilities to deliver what they need, and that you will follow through with what you have promised. Conveying confidence can be something as simple as maintaining eye contact during a conversation. .

Showing Approachable Body Language: Your body language, eye contact, hand gestures, and tone of voice all color the message you are trying to convey. A relaxed, open stance and a friendly tone will make you appear approachable and will encourage others to speak openly with you.

Simplifying the Complex: Some messages can be complicated, confusing or absolutely muddled. A great communicator takes these messages and makes them clear and concrete for their audience. By breaking down or rephrasing content, great communicators make the message more digestible.

Using a Friendly Tone: A friendly tone will encourage others to communicate productivity with you. Always try to personalize messages by saying things like good morning or even letting them know they did a good job on recent tasks.

Explore Roles That Benefit From Communication

Who can benefit from practicing communication? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their communication.

  • CEOs who are looking to become better leaders and cultivate company culture
  • Designers who want to grow their professional and soft skills
  • Freelancers who work without a traditional team and want feedback
  • Project Managers looking to improve their cross-functional collaboration skills

Explore Complementary Skills to Communication

Communication shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your candor by exploring and developing these complementary skills.

  • Candor: Communicating the truth in a straightforward manner is a skill that is highly valued
  • Coaching: Providing guidance to help others achieve their goals is a sought-after skill for mentors and team leaders. It is rooted in the ability to positively convey constructive criticism as well as praise
  • Inclusiveness: The ability to create an environment that values individual and group differences
  • Influence: Convincing others to listen and do things that positively impact the team or company is a corollary of having good communication skills
  • Leadership: Leads, motivates, and inspires your team and/or company

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