TABLE OF CONTENTS
What are communication skills?
Communication refers to how we receive and express ideas, data or information.
It’s a broad term and has many forms. Communication skills include:
- Understanding, sharing and broadcasting information.
- Expressing yourself in a way that others can understand.
- Showing respect and awareness for those around you.
- Using body language.
- Being clear about how something is messaged.
- Listening to others and checking to ensure you received their meaning.
Importance of communication skills
Communication is essential to how you live daily life and interact with friends, family and coworkers.
Communication skills determine how well you get along with others and how effectively you share and receive information. This makes them necessary to be an effective employee for business!
Next, we’ll outline the specific types of communication and provide top examples of each.
in a resume sample
Study the job ad to see which communication skills an employer seeks. That’s how you will know which communication skills you should include in your resume! Only feature the ones you possess.
You should mention communication skills in three main places on your resume:
You can see where skills are added in this resume example:
Take note there are two main types of skills: hard skills and soft. Communication skills fall under the “soft skills” category.
Here is an example of communication skills on a resume where you can copy/paste the text:
Communication skills in your cover letter
Your resume and cover letter work together to show employers you’re the best candidate for the job! So, you should also add communication skills to your cover letter.
Your cover letter gives you extra space to showcase these skills and even tell a story about how you used communication skills to solve a problem.
To write a cover letter from scratch, check out our guide on how to write a cover letter.
Or, if you want an extra edge, use our Cover Letter Builder.
It walks you through writing a cover letter step by step, like having an expert help you! It even provides text suggestions for the job to which you’re applying.
Best of all, it will help you complete a cover letter in just a few quick minutes instead of taking hours!
How to improve
Communication skills are something that you practice every day, yet they can take a lifetime to master!
The more you work on your communication skills, the richer all aspects of your life will be. They can make things much easier at work and deepen your connections and relationships!
Let’s look at some practical ways to develop your communication skills:
1 Listen with focus.
We live in a digital age with many distractions, so showing someone you’re paying attention to them will demonstrate you care and can help win you a job.
Here are some tips to improve your active listening skills:
Put your phone away or face down when talking to someone.
Your phone is a distraction. Even if you’re not using it and it’s on silent, seeing notifications pop up could take your attention away from the person speaking to you. They may interpret this as rude!
Make direct eye contact.
If you look into the eyes of the person you’re speaking with, they will feel like they have your full attention.
Nod and make polite verbal affirmations to indicate that you’re listening.
Little signals like nodding your head or making short responsive phrases like “yes,” “no way,” or “wow” will help show you’re following what someone is saying. Just don’t overdo it by interrupting them!
Use facial expressions to show your emotional reaction (when appropriate).
Facial expressions can show warmth and empathy because they indicate that what someone is saying to you is affecting you emotionally; it matters to you. However, you can also show emotions that may not be welcome in a certain situation, like fear, confusion or anger. Be conscious of how you use facial expressions to show positive emotions and how your facial expressions can betray you.
Repeat some of the key points they shared with you to confirm.
When someone finishes talking or making a point to you, it’s good to repeat some of the key things they said. You don’t need to repeat it word-for-word; just show you got the main point. It will avoid errors and confusion!
Try making an analogy about the information they’ve shared to confirm your understanding.
If someone is explaining a process or something important, you can show that you understand by making a comparison or analogy. For instance, if a hiring manager talked about the importance of preparedness for the job during an interview, you could say something like, “That’s right. You can’t bake a cake without all the ingredients!” It shows you’re thinking about what they’re saying and confirms you get the point.
2 Pay attention to nonverbal signals.
So much of communication is unconscious. Things like facial expressions, body language and tone of voice are often done automatically without us thinking about it.
However, there’s much to gain for deeper and more assertive communication if you focus on these subtle cues!
Do you want to be seen as nervous or distracted during an interview? Or do you want to exude confidence? You can control how others see you by considering details like your posture, hand gestures and facial expressions!
Ways to improve nonverbal communication:
Hold eye contact.
This not only shows that you’re listening, but it also shows confidence! Avoiding eye contact with someone may seem like you’re distracted or afraid of that person. It will help earn their respect and trust to maintain eye contact.
Keep an upright posture.
It’s so simple, but standing or sitting up straight will give you a more commanding presence because it shows alertness and strength.
Be mindful of your facial expressions.
Every social situation is different. Sometimes it can help to be expressive to show warmth with your facial expressions. Other times, you may need to keep a serious, calm or collected look. Try to read the tone of the situation and be mindful of the looks you’re putting on your face!
Use your hands.
Hand gestures are a great communication tool to use. Use your hands to show a little excitement and hold your listeners’ attention. However, be aware not to move your hands too fast or wildly because this could come off as aggressive or threatening.
Pay attention to what confident people do.
How do they carry themselves? What aspects of their body language can you mimic? Observe how they take up space and what they do with their hands and facial expressions. Try to adapt what seems powerful to you!
3 Better oral communication.
Oral communication is one of the most important types because it is how people get to deeper levels of understanding and emotional connection. Considering different aspects of how you speak to people can help you get your message across better!
Hear your tone.
The tone of your voice can show how you really feel. If you don’t monitor that tone, you can harm communication by showing unwanted emotions like fear or frustration in settings where they’re not welcome, like a job interview. Always try to keep a positive, friendly tone in your voice when appropriate!
Be mindful of the pace with which you speak to people. Deliver your words at a steady medium pace. Take care to make sure that you pronounce words clearly and correctly. It’s good practice to read out loud until you feel your delivery is strong!
Choose your words carefully.
The words you say convey a lot of meaning! So, be thoughtful about them, especially in delicate situations. Prepare what you want to say whenever possible! In conversation, pause to take a moment to think about what you will say before you say it! It can help you avoid miscommunication, hurt feelings or putting your foot in your mouth.
Practice public speaking.
Many people fear public speaking, so those good at it have a powerful advantage in life! You’ll probably have to speak in front of an audience at some point, so it’s good to be ready. Practice speeches in non-stressful settings to start: alone in your room, in front of family members or trusted friends. That’ll make it easier for you to speak in front of strangers!
4 Improve your writing.
Writing skills are valuable to many careers. Developing these skills can open up a lot of doors! There are many ways to do it, depending on what kind of writing you want.
Start a journal.
One of the easiest ways to get writing practice is to start a journal and commit to writing in it daily. The practice of doing that will help improve your word choice and how you describe things, even if no one else reads it!
Keep it brief!
The best advice for anyone looking to improve their writing skills is always to try to convey your message in the fewest words possible! Extra words make your writing less clear and compelling. Every time you write a sentence, consider if there are unnecessary words or a shorter way to phrase the same meaning.
Understand your audience.
In writing, having a clear idea of who you’re writing for can help you capture their attention and engage them better. So, whenever you’re writing anything, consider your reader: Who are they? What are their interests, needs, and comprehension level on the subject? The more you put yourself in their shoes, the better you can communicate with them!
Writing can take many forms, from journalism to copywriting to technical writing. If there’s a style of writing you want to master, put in the work to get good at it! All sorts of books will give you practical guidance about how to write in a specific form. You can also take classes in creative writing or online courses from sites like Udemy or Coursera to hone business writing skills.