Recruiters hiring business school graduates are looking for candidates who can influence and inspire. Compelling communicators make strong business leaders who can rally their teams, successfully pitch new product ideas, build trust and navigate uncertainty. Effective communicators are assets to the business. They can command a presence, get buy-in, connect across remote teams of differing cultures, and deliver and process feedback – good or bad.
Communication skills should not be under-valued. How you communicate and present yourself will distinguish you, both in the hiring process and as you advance in your career.
One Style Does Not Fit All
There are generally four or five fundamental communication styles in the workplace and a variety of assessment tests available to best determine the style that matches your own. While it is helpful to understand if your primary style is more assertive or passive, or analytical than intuitive – flexibility and adaptability should be the priority.
All professional and personal interactions will be different. Some will be stressful. Most should be pleasant. These interactions will be across cultures, languages and seniorities. Communication will occur over a variety of platforms: one-on-one, conference calls, large group presentations. It is crucial to have a broad set of communication skills and techniques to deliver information effectively regardless of the circumstance.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Giselle Kovary, co-author of Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills suggests some key tips for improving communication:
- Reduce ambiguity by being consistent in your messaging. Provide background and context to answer “why” enables a comprehensive understanding of the message that you are trying to convey.
- Keep it simple. Don’t use jargon. Using complex language does not equate to authority. Especially in diverse workplaces, clear and concise language reduces the chance of being misunderstood.
- Repeat and reinforce. If you’re lucky, the message will be conveyed successfully the first time around. Repetition replaces chance and increases understanding and acceptance.
This is straightforward advice that needs to be frequently implemented. Actively finding ways to develop and improving communication skills – from delivering oral presentations, giving feedback to peers, negotiating opportunities and even having difficult conversations – will grow confidence and poise.
Learn from the Best
Great communicators are not born. They’re made. Consistent practice is key, along with learning from the experts on how to cultivate top-notch verbal communication skills. Here’s a selection of books from the best:
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Originally published in 1936, Carnegie delivers timeless advice including:
- Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain
- Talk in terms of the other person’s interest
- Ask questions instead of giving direct orders
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
Applicable to personal and professional communications, key lessons include:
- Preparing for high-stakes situations
- How to be persuasive, not abrasive
- Prepare for high-impact situations with a six-minute mastery technique
Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas
A collection of 200, thought-provoking questions to initiate meaningful dialogue, this book is a cheat sheet of power questions that can build connections, refocus a conversation or transform relationships. The book demonstrates the effective use of simple yet empowering questions like ‘Can you tell me more?”
Communication Skills Make the Difference
With technology and automation driving business, most new entrants possess the required quantitative and technical skills. On the other hand, a recent study of employers recruiting from top business schools showed that “uniquely human” skills – like listening and effective communication – while coveted by employers are more difficult to find. The top skills sought after by employers include:
- Attention to detail and attentiveness
- Effective oral communication
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal skills
- Active learning
These skills are key competitive differentiators and essential to business success. The EU Business School MBA Program in Communication & Public Relations requires the completion of communication skills courses, to develop well-rounded leaders equipped with the foundations of impactful communications skills.