Communication is consistently listed as one of the top in-demand skills for just about any job with any employer.
According to world-famous businessman, speaker, and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, communication skills are the one thing you need to succeed. He told a young person, “At your age, the best way you can improve yourself is to learn to communicate better. Your results in life will be magnified if you can communicate them better. The only diploma I hang in my office is the communications diploma I got from Dale Carnegie in 1952… Without good communication skills, you won’t be able to convince people to follow you even though you see over the mountain and they don’t.”
And LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner recently echoed this statement when he said that communication is the number one skill lacking in the US – or, more specifically, where the biggest skills gap is. This means it’s something employers want but can’t find.
Weiner is referring specifically to interpersonal skills, or “people skills.” Written communication skills are also important, of course, within the context of people skills. What we write often stands in for what we say in a world where almost everyone communicates – some people exclusively – through writing.
Every employer is going to want you to showcase at least some level of these skills, no matter what job you’re after and in what industry. And the higher level the job, and the more public facing, the better those skills should be.
Presuming you already have basic writing skills, and want to improve your overall communication and interpersonal skills, there are many ways in which you can do that.
We’ve found a list of available resources to get you started. This is only a tiny sampling of what’s available out there. So, we encourage you to do your own research and find what works for you.
Here are three ways to improve your communication skills and a list of available resources.
Read books: Read books on how to communicate. There are tried and true classics out there that can help you change the way you view communication and the way you interact with others. You can find any number of books on communication, verbal, nonverbal, and written, out there. But three of the best include:
How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (mentioned by Buffet): This classic is your basic be all and end all of communication books. Applying the basic principals of psychology, Carnegie helps you understand how to handle people, how to win people over, how to make people like you, and how to bring people around to your way of thinking.
Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. This famous book examines the psychology behind why people say “yes” and applies this to communication in ways that you never thought of before.
How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships, by Liel Lowndes. Liel Lowndes, a master communicator, teaches you how to make a good first impression and be at ease – and put others at ease – in any situation.
Take online courses: Some people work better through online courses than through reading alone, which can help you put the concept to practice. Or you can do both. There are hundreds of available communication courses and they vary in level, price, and subject matter. Here are three we found that range in subject matter from communication basics to effective strategic communication for tech experts.
Persuasion Masterclass: How To Powerfully Influence Anyone This course, offered by Udemy, promises to help you “Master The 3 Hidden Skills of the Most Persuasive People Without Manipulation In 10 Minutes A Day …Guaranteed!” $199.99
Developing Interpersonal Communication Skills for Work This course, offered by Study.com, says it will strengthen your interpersonal communication skills. “Engaging videos examine conflict resolution, business etiquette and more to help employees effectively communicate in various workplace situations.” Monthly plans starting at $39.99
Communicating Strategically This course is offered by Purdue University, via edX. It’s a five-week refresher is” geared toward experts (scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals) to help them effectively communicate with non-scientists, usually management, to inform organizational decision-making.”
According to the website: “Many of the best minds in our society, our most talented employees and our most promising students, fail to have the impact they could because of ineffective strategies for communicating their ideas and insights to others.” Free
Real life courses and workshops
In real life, with real people, is a great way to master in-person communication skills (ya think?). You can look for courses and workshops in your own area. Here are three examples:
How to talk to people about things. This course, offered in Toronto, “will help you learn how to communicate better, resolve differences with others, and improve your skills at talking about tough issues.” Course material is drawn from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. $1200
Communications I. This course is offered by NSCC and provides the student with an overview of the communication skills required by business and industry. “Students will learn to apply these communication skills to be successful in their selected workplace setting.” $219.50
Toastmasters. Toastmasters International is a global communication and leadership development organization with more than 357,000 members. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 16,600 Toastmasters clubs in 143 countries. Members pay a fee of USD 45 every six months.
Most important, get out there and practice. Not only will you hone your communication skills but you’ll expand your network. Both of those things are required for career success.
If you’re invited somewhere, go. Meet people. Use what you’ve learned to make a great impression.