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Winning through the Art of Communication

 

‘Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.’  – Rudyard Kipling

 Communication is central to the very existence of humans. Man has been communicating since time immemorial. Communication is the lifeblood of our whole being. In every age of man’s existence on earth, communication has acted as an agent of facilitation, social life, and development. Cavemen developed their own lingua franca to make meanings out of things and send meaningful messages. They also communicated through art. As the importance of communication is second only to oxygen for humans, the importance never lost its sheen throughout homo sapiens journey in the historical chapters of planet earth. In the modern ages or in other words, the competitive world, which is, even more, a world of survival of the fittest, every day demands constant steadfastness in the face of challenges and opportunities, both in personal and professional arenas. Nobody wants to lose the opportunity to fair well or make better of it. 

Present times are fraught with people battling stress. Resultant of the busy competitive world we live in, stress eats away on our happiness and well-being like a termite which is evident in high divorce rates, dysfunctional parenting, on-job burnout, boss-conflicts at the workplace, joblessness, violence, depression, increasing suicide rates, etc.  There is a continuous nag that ‘nothing is ever going to be enough’ constantly nudges at you. Communication helps to combat stress as we learn to express ourselves, thereby clearing doubts and confusion, and building valuable connections. But communication must be effective so as to be of any use in delivering the right message, to the right audience at the right time and make a fruitful impact. ‘Effective communication’, remains the no.1 skill to lead and manage a successful life.

The Communication Gap

Today the world is impatient, does not wait for anybody. Everyone wants to grab that chance to a better life, job, or income. This demands us to constantly up-skilling ourselves, and being in the right circles, aka, effective networking. But, even here, to be successful, we need an empathetic human to human connection. Communication gaps can hinder relationships between boss-employee, teacher-student, parent-child, siblings, and friends. Married couples ought to work on their marriage by constantly enhancing communication and listening.

Effective communication can act as a glue and heals discord, builds bridges, which is good both for business and personal life. While everyone starts their professional life equipped with in-demand degrees or skill certifications it is the skill of effective communication that decides who will sustain in the race and be the best or among the best, to succeed, to grow, and to enjoy the journey that life presents.

Tools for Effective Communication

Good communication is a crowd puller. Imagine a leader without the art of communication. As simple as it may seem, communication to be effective is still a challenge for many. The ways of what is good in oral communication differ from what makes an impression in written form. Also, styles and techniques of communication differ from person to person, situation to situation, and medium of communication.

Oral Communication: When it comes to improvement in oral communication to become good public speakers, orators or impress in meetings and interviews, skills can be honed by listening to good speakers, study their body language and use of vocabulary as much as possible. It is very important to understand aspects of the speech like tone, fluency, eye contact, pauses, use of space, gestures, etc. Using anecdotes, emotional stories, poetry, couplets, and humor enhances oral communication by helping build connections with the audience. The only thing to be kept in mind is to not over-do these tools and use them appropriately. Regular practice and proper planning help sharpening the oration skills immensely.

Written Communication: Written communication is very important from documentation and legality perspective. Academic teaching and learning, business transactions, print media, legal issues, emailing, etc. depend on written communication. It is very important for a writer to write and convey their thoughts clearly. The inability to write what one wants to express will be an impediment to one’s success. Tools like using the right approach, style, and words help in creating powerful, meaningful messages for the readers. practicing the use of correct grammar and spelling (Grammarly app is one such tool) and setting the right tone in the writing is very important. If not drafted well, written communication can fail or backfire due to misunderstanding, as it does not have the advantage of being face-to-face.

Visual Communication: Pictures, graphs, charts, and all kinds of imagery are part of visual communication. Pictures/images speak a thousand words, have the power to set the tone of communication, leave an impact, and project the intended message without hours of speech or pages and pages of writings. The presenter must have the skill to navigate the mind and eyes of the audience to create an impactful visual presentation with the right captions, slogans, etc. Learning visual arts professionally or with practice and guidance can tremendously help a communicator.

Overall, for effective communication, it is very important to know the mind of the audience and shape the message accordingly by appropriate use of communication tools.

Communication Skills in Education 

A good communication course or certification is an added advantage but not enough to become a real good communicator. Life experiences and good education teach us that indispensable skill. Not many organizations especially educational institutions, present an education rigor that makes one an effective communicator. But there are some which do.  World-class educational institutions like IILM in the Delhi NCR region, have a brilliant history of producing positive minded and competent professionals with excellent communication skills. Such institutions are known to lay stress on creating a learning ethos with communication skill development at its core. Students hone their oral and written communication through impactful and professionally designed study programs including active and participatory classwork, club activities, dissertation, outreach projects, competitions, events, etc. Every student comes out of their shell, gains the confidence to stand up in face of an audience, learns skills to lead, collaborate and connect through good verbal and non-verbal skills and shun negativity from their life.

For students, as college years are formative years of their personality and crucial years for building their career base, IILM is a great investment for those years and emerges confident and competent.

Guide to Professional Networking and Job Search

Only a handful of us, hold jobs that are directly linked to our past work experience or academics. And in the era of opportunity in disguise where talent hunt and job seekers are at parallel lines. “To Bridge this gap” I wanted to pen down a few mantras, through which Job seekers could make themselves visible and how talent seekers could findtheir potential candidates.

In today’s scenario, seeking employment is mentally and emotionally draining. It even begins to affect your self-worth. Efficiency is what is required in job hunting, with holistic views and of course knowledge and use of technology. All institutions are helping students to make use of the technologies for future growth. As, in the present scenario, technology is utilized to improve teaching and learning and help our students be corporate ready.

Guide-to-Professional-Networking-and-Job-Search_1On a daily bases we get to see Job openings with profile descriptions on various Portals – Linkedin being one of the best social professional platform. Bases your interest- Whenever you see such posts, make sure that you share or drop a “like”or “comment.” You spend only a few seconds but could be a life-changer for someone who is looking out for an opportunity. It will increase their visibility and even help you find desired key words for your resume, which would indeed attract the recruiters. By sharing the post – You may not be able to get them a job, but someone who might be able to, may see it. This is what “Linkedin” and true networking is all about. Let’s join together and help each other out.

Incredible potential were missed out during the earlier system of hiring. With the use of new methods and technology, the advances in robotics and machine learning are transforming the way we work. We should be open to multi task at this juncture and should be willing to do jobs we’ve never done before in our careers. So what are the tools and strategies we need to identify tomorrow’s high performers? In search for answers, I’ve consulted with many of my colleagues, across many sectors, read number of reports and conducted some of my own talent try-outs. My hunt is far from over, but here are few ideas the can lead you to the desired profile.

1. Explore to the maximum

If we only look for talent in the same place/s, as we always do – top notch universities / institutions, reputed schools, prestigious organizations — the results are the same. There’s a lot of talk about the importance of clarity and vision with each step of the search. Your computer, tablet, or Smartphone holds a wealth of information. If you know what to look for, you have access to an unlimited number of learning resources, job search portals and we can make the best use of it.

For example, say you’ve been searching for a job role of “Manager of Marketing” for a while without any luck. Depending on the company, a “Chief Marketing Officer” position might demand the same skills as a Manager-level position. Instead of relying on the job title to determine the scope and function of the role, read the whole listing to discover what’s actually being asked for.

Be especially cautious of the term “manager,” it’s one of the most confused terms in the career world. One organization’s “Marketing Director” might, in fact, be an individual contributor, whereas a “Marketing Manager” with a different company could lead a team of ten members. The point to be noted is, this again depend upon the size, hierarchy of the company.

No issues, it’s about opening up your search by navigating the shortcomings of job! As long the search should be right, keep initial words, read Job Description thoroughly, understand what the company is asking and see if or as a role fits with the bulk of your non-negotiable (like pay, company type, or location), it’s worth exploring further.

2. Performance should speak

Inspired by my own job experience, as a hiring platform called “Linkedin,” which gives candidates an opportunity to polish the various capabilities like the Data Tool, Basic Excel, STRATA, Programming, Tableau Public, Python, SAS; etc. If you’re hiring a data analyst, give them a spread sheet of historical data and ask them for their key understandings. If you’re hiring a marketing manager, have them plan a launch campaign for a new product. And if you’re a candidate, don’t wait for an employer to ask. Seek out ways to showcase your unique skills and abilities outside of just the standard resume and cover letter.

However, employee selection is the process of putting right men on right job. It is a procedure of matching organizational requirements with the skills and qualifications of people.

3. Don’t wait – Explore all job portals

Applying online is instantly gratifying / rewarding. You can apply to 20 places in one sitting and feel incredibly productive. Also most jobs aren’t publicly advertised?? So why to wait…?.

How to access this secret underground job market?

Guide-to-Professional-Networking-and-Job-Search_2Start by making a list of your dream companies you want to work for. Organize your list based on whether or not you have the right skill sets. If you already know someone there, put that organization on one side of the list, and send an email and fix for an appointment and then take it forward. For everywhere else, you’ll need to make a new connection, which increases your contact and add to your network.

4. The Big Picture

I’ve heard about recruiters who are quick to tag a candidate based on a single short stint on their resume. Try to get a rounded view of the person; otherwise our judgment of them will always be imperfect. For that, let’s stop associating experience with ability, credentials with competence. The employers should leave back the out-dated hiring practices and embrace new ways of identifying and cultivating talent, and candidates can help by learning to tell their story in powerful and convincing ways. We could live in a world where people are seen for what they’re truly capable of and have the opportunity to realize their full potential. So let’s start to construct it.

5. Top Essential Employability Skills and most Transferable in-demand Skills

Various skills in enterprise are role defined, while others can be utilised in all job roles (multi takers). The Manageable skills develop through learning during our career – know what they are and set targets for improving them to maximise the job evolution.

Few of them are:

(a) Positive Attitude

Having positive attitude helps you cope more easily with the daily affairs of life. It brings confidence, and avoids unnecessary problems. If the change is adopted in one’s life, it would bring constructive changes, keeps everyone happier, cheerful and more prosperous.

(b) Self-Management

Success starts with self-management. It is an acquired art. Setting goals and managing time comes out of self-management. It develops the attentiveness skills which will help to overcome the temptation of delay.

(c) Willingness to Learn

Be always open to new learning and cooperative. Be willing to learn from others and share knowledge

(d) Thinking Skills

Thinking skills are the mental state of mind that we apply when in need. It enables us to assimilate each new experience into the diagram that we are constructing or imagining of “how things are”

(e) Flexibility

Flexibility in workplace allows employers and employees to make arrangements about working conditions that suit them. This helps employees maintain a work / life balance and can help employers improve the productivity and efficiency of their business.

In today’s world, employees will be expected to specialize in your role to some extent, although understanding the functions of your colleagues’ positions and departments will allow you to work with them better. Being flexible means making time for others and not expecting them to respond to your requests instantly. Look for examples of how your flexible approach to work will benefit the company.

(f) Motivation and Enthusiasm

Whoever hires you, the employer is investing in you, so they need to see that you are passionate about working and interested in your career. If you are lacking in motivation this may have a negative impact on your work.

(g) Initiative

Highly valued in job – is your own initiative. An employer needs to know that you can think for yourself. Approach this with thoughtfulness and start small, you have got your whole career to develop your skills. Kindly note, for any activity please do not act smart or outside of your authority.

(h) Organization and Planning

Prioritization of tasks and time management are the key factor for any job role. You need prove your administration skills to your next interviewer that you will be able to perform to your full ability and excel in your role.

(i) Communication

Effective communication is essential for any job role. Employers need to know that you are capable to express and explain your thoughts to anybody in the organization and also able to realize the viewpoints of others.

(j) Teamwork

Teamwork is often a crucial part of any job role, as it is often necessary for colleagues to work well together. Teamwork means that people will have to cooperate, using their individual skills and providing constructive feedback, despite any personal conflict. Employees get opportunity to work in groups and communicate with people from every department of the company in order to prove and deliver results.

(k) Leadership skills

Leaders take responsibility and delegate tasks effectively. Most roles involve at least some aspect of leadership, especially beyond the initial stages of your career. Look for opportunities to manage projects and other people as early as possible to begin developing this key transferable skill.

(l) Problem solving

Workshops / Training can only take you so far, sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where you need to figure out a new solution. Make a note when you really have to dig deep and figure something out. Try to use examples in your interviews to convince the interviewer.

(m) Self-Awareness

Try to recognize your areas of weakness and improve it. It is almost as important as developing and using your strengths. Your potential employer needs to know that you realise, you aren’t perfect. If appropriate, mention areas you are keen to develop in your new position, (eg. go for trainings, attend conferences, etc.) as well as presenting the skills you bring to the role.

Finally the ability for search in jobs lies in the capability and adaptability of the job seeker keeping in mind the competitive scenario today. There is “No ‘Job Shortage” – but using the right platform and skills will enhance the job seekers to accomplish his/ her goal. The job seeker should however, be well equipped with his or her strong and weak capabilities to channelize his / her root of career.

Mini B. Daniel
Associate Professor of Communication