How to improve communication skills
Even someone with the most brilliant solutions can have little to no impact if they aren’t an effective communicator. This is especially true at the workplace and while on a job interview. As a good communicator, you can learn from others while conveying the value of your ideas, opinions, and feelings. Read on to learn how to communicate effectively at the workplace, during a job interview, and in life overall.
How to improve communication skills during an interview
Your job interview is your chance to show your interviewer that you can contribute ideas and develop effective solutions. It also allows them to gauge how well you can work with a team, accept feedback, and consider others’ thoughts and feelings.
There are several ways that you can illustrate your communicative skills during an interview. There’s more to communication than just what you say. Eye contact, facial expressions, and even your speech rate all contribute to your effectiveness as a communicator. Below, we’ll explore some tips for how you can improve your communication skills during a job interview.
Maintain eye contact
In many cultures, maintaining eye contact shows that you’re respectful, attentive, and fully present in a social situation. Still, for many people, eye contact can feel awkward. During a job interview, it’s best to try to overcome any discomfort you have with eye contact — especially if you’re interviewing in a country where it’s expected.
If your eyes dart around the room while someone is speaking, at a computer screen — or even worse, a phone — your interviewer may think you’re not invested in what they have to say or the position itself.
Maintaining eye contact during an interview is far easier if you’re confident about what you’re talking about. To ensure you’re ready for your interviews, you can check out our courses designed to help you say and do the right things while in front of a prospective employer:
The 50/70 rule
According to a report from Michigan State University, it’s best to maintain eye contact 50% of the time while speaking and 70% of the time while listening. When speaking, it’s common for people to allow their eyes to shift as they think about what to say. Plus, if you intently stare into someone’s eyes while talking to them, you may risk coming across as intimidating. Hence, the reduced eye contact while speaking.
Still, while listening, eye contact plays an integral role in the communication process. To achieve the 70% experts recommend, try to hold eye contact while your interviewer is speaking for between four and five seconds. Then, slowly glance off to the side as if you’re thinking about something they just said before reestablishing eye contact for another four to five seconds.
Control the speed of your speech
Speaking quickly is a natural result of nervousness, but you should try to avoid rattling off quick sentences during a job interview. Here are a few tips for controlling the speed of your speech:
Focus on the beginnings and endings of each word you say. When you commit to saying each word completely — naturally, without over-annunciating — you both control your pace and make your words clearer.Pause in between sentences. At times, even a sentence that comes out quickly can still be understood if the listener has an extra moment to process it.Periodically check in with your listener. Taking brief breaks to ask questions like, “Does that make sense?” prevents you from quickly running through several sentences in a row. It also shows that you care about how what you say is coming across.
Use appropriate facial expressions
It’s OK to smile, especially if you’re nervous. A smile will put your interviewer at ease and may even encourage them to smile as well. Still, as a general rule, it’s typically best to mirror the expression of the person you’re speaking to. If they smile, you can too. If they look serious, you can show you appreciate the gravity of what they’re saying by slightly furrowing your brow or thoughtfully pursing your lips.
On the other hand, if you smile for the entire interview, even when the interviewer is talking about a troubling challenge the company is facing, you risk coming across as someone who takes important things too lightly.
Asking questions shows that you’re fully invested in the interview. While fact-seeking questions are excellent, you don’t have to limit yourself to general queries about the job or the organization’s goals. Feel free to ask clarifying questions that restate what was just said when your interviewer stops speaking or before forming a reply.
For example, after the interviewer explains how the DevOps team is structured, you could say, “So it sounds like the same person handles the roles of software tester and release manager. Do I have that correct?” They may nod their head or say yes. You can then continue, “That’s an interesting way of maintaining quality control. About six months ago, I worked on a team that took a similar approach…” This way, you show interest and attentiveness while highlighting your past experience.
General tips to improve communication skills at work
After the job interview, communication becomes even more important as you’ll need it to collaborate with others and effectively convey your ideas and solutions. Here are some tips for improving your communication skills at work:
Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback shows you are a thoughtful, humble person who wants to improve. While receiving feedback, you can also get actionable goals that you can use to measure your success.
Listen more than you talk
Talking too much during a conversation can make the other person feel undervalued. Devote more time to listening than talking. If you’re able to get the other person talking, you can learn from them, make them feel more comfortable, and earn a reputation as someone who cares about the opinions of others.
Pay attention to your nonverbal communication
Your body, like a picture, speaks a thousand words. Try the following:
Keep your arms uncrossed while listening. This, in effect, shows you are welcoming the other person’s thoughts.Instead of facing the other person straight on, stand at a slight angle. In this way, they won’t feel trapped or boxed in by your body.Use gestures while giving a presentation. Keep your hands out of your pockets, and be sure to use them while trying to convey emotion.
Improving your communication skills will help you land the job you want and enhance your impact while there. With our courses, you can strengthen your knowledge base while improving your communication skills. Working with other students and teachers gives you the chance to practice active listening and contributing your ideas for the benefit of all involved. The connections you make can also boost your career prospects for many years to come. Get started for free today!