How Good Are Your Communication Skills?

By Mariela Dabbah

I never met anyone who openly admits to having bad communication skills. We all think we communicate just fine, thank you very much. But if you often encounter situations where others didn’t understand what you asked them to do, or you missed your colleague’s cue to keep something to yourself, then you might need to question your communication skills. And because communication is a two way street, you can’t focus only on what you communicate but also on what others communicate. How much you pick up from what others say is as much a part of your communication skills as when you speak yourself. Today, however, I only approach the topic of communication skills from the perspective of you as the initiator of the communication.

Outstanding communication skills guarantee high visibility

Outstanding communication skills guarantee high visibility

Communication Skills Primer

When evaluating your communication skills, you want to zero-in on speaking, listening, writing and what I call relational skills — the kind of skills needed to establish and maintain strong relationships which include: courtesy, diplomacy, timeliness, responsiveness, and so on. (The kind missing in people who never answer e-mails and only write to you when they need something.) You may have great oral and written communication skills but very poor relational skills. Eventually, this will seriously affect your relationships even when everyone understands what you have to say.

How to improve english communication skills

If English is your second language the question of how good your communication skills are is a concern you should take seriously. Every time you put something in writing, weather it’s a Power Point presentation or an email to a client, you must double check that it’s formulated properly. Despite the fact that texting has made spelling mistakes a daily nuisance with which we’ve learned to cope, there’s sill very little room for mistakes in the workplace. Recently, I was asked to join a start-up company in what sounded like a promising project. After reviewing their introductory materials I turned it down. The reason? The paperwork was so poorly written that it made me think that the team was second rate. If that was the way in which they presented their project, I couldn’t imagine how the project would be executed.

English is my second language and I’m constantly aware of how that may affect my communication skills. When I present publicly I make fun of the fact that I’m prepositionally-challenged and that oftentimes I don’t get a popular saying completely right. Humor is a great tool to engage my audience. But I never take my writing lightly and everything that leaves my desk is edited by a native English-speaking editor. I value my brand too much to allow my written communications skills to tarnish it. You may not be as lucky as I am to have that editor be one of your closest friends, but I highly recommend that, if English is your second language. you partner with a colleague who can review your most important documents before you send them out.

Communication skills at the workplace: For immigrants, having optimal communication skills is a valid concern

For immigrants, having optimal communication skills is a valid concern

Equally important is to hone your oral communications skills. Can you express your thoughts clearly and concisely providing enough context while avoiding extraneous matter? Are your suggestions understood? If you find that you have trouble turning your thoughts into words that others can follow, ask a friend to work with you. Practice putting simple ideas into words, and share them with your friend. Get feedback. Repeat. You may also need to get a coach to help you along. If your difficulty arises when you have to speak in front of a group, then join a Toastmasters Club where they’ll prepare you for public speaking in any environment. It will definitely boost your confidence.

Accents are fine as long as they don’t interfere with getting your message across. If yours does, slow down your speech to make comprehension easier and think about signing up for an accent reduction course.  But consider that, in most cases, having an accent can be a great advantage. Not only does it help you stand out and be remembered, but in many cases it forces people to pay additional attention to you.

Women Must Learn to Leverage their Unique Communication Skills

Women, who often have a distinctively different style than men, can benefit from understanding how to take advantage of this difference. Ask yourself: What unique communication skills do I bring to the table? How can I leverage those particular traits to better position myself? Being aware of your assets will help you use them to your advantage.

For instance, we are generally known for being good listeners, consensus builders, and empathetic. So you could request to be part of a high-stakes negotiation team, given that you have all the required communication skills to succeed.

Women must leverage their distinct communication style

Women must leverage their distinct communication style

As women we tend to place higher value on relationships and consequently become more emotionally involved with those around us. (This is an extra valuable asset in workplaces dominated by bottom-line mentality because, in the end, the bottom-line alone doesn’t motivate people to go to work.) In difficult situations, when you become angry, frustrated, annoyed, and so on, being aware of any tendencies to express your emotions openly will help you modulate your emotional response. And I said “modulate” not “eliminate.” Emotional responses are important because they show you care about the issue at hand, about your organization, about people. If you want your message to get across, however, modulation is the key. Why? First, when you are emotional your voice pitch is likely to become higher than usual making you in turn harder to understand. Second, depending on your audience, if they are not used to public displays of emotion they might not know what to make of it. (Is she out of control? Will she be able to carry out this project?)

Take advantage of the emotion to reveal who you are. Try to calm down by breathing through your stomach a few times to regain your regular voice pitch. Then explain why you feel that way. Explain that you care. Explain that what happened is unacceptable, wrong, unfair, etc. And always keep in mind that this modulation should serve one purpose only: to get your message across. Not to change who you are or your communication style.

Communication skills for women: great tips

Communication skills for women

Great Communication Skills and Latinas

Learning to modulate aspects of your communication style is particularly important for Latinas. Passion is an inherent part of the Latino culture and of who we are. It lets people know what’s important to us. So learning to turn up or down the volume of your passion according to your audience is an effective way to be heard. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop caring. It just means I modulate the level of the passion with which I express myself depending on who’s listening. That way they can hear what I have to say.

The main thing to remember is that one of the secrets of feeling happier at work is to respect your style. Rather than imitate someone else’s, you must first recognize your own style. You must know what makes you, you. Then, and only then, can you fine-tune your communication skills by slightly adjusting details to make your message clearer.

Salary Negotiation Strategies and Techniques

Salary Negotiation Strategies and techniques

Salary Negotiation Strategies and techniques

By Abigail Kuhn

Salary Negotiation Strategies and Techniques was one of the most popular topics at the Red Shoe Tuesday event at the New York Times. It attracted a large group of participants looking to learn strategies to put into practice immediately.

These are some of the highlights of the questions asked by the Explorers regarding salary negotiation strategies in the group and the suggestions provided by the Experts.


Salary Negotiation Strategies: How do I negotiate a salary?

Deborah Radcliffe
– Preparation is key, you need to research and understand your value in the market place.
– Be clear about your contributions to the company with your manager and if you don’t get a response, ask why.
– You are your best PR agent, advocate for yourself.

Marcelo Silbert
– As a business owner, the less I see you in my office, the more money I’m willing to pay you
– Instead of bringing only problems to the table, bring not only problems, but also solutions.

Effective communication in the workplace

Effective communication in the workplace

Salary Negotiation Strategies: If you work for a non-profit organization, how do you approach a boss to negotiate a salary?

–Asked by Explorer Margali Lopez

Vanessa Smith-Your work speaks for yourself. Work your hardest and make sure you stand out in a group.

Deborah Radcliffe- Sometimes the best time to ask for a raise in salary is right after an employee has left.

Salary Negotiation Strategies: What if you really want to stay where you are, how do you not play the charade of looking at other companies?

– Asked by Explorer Meghan Gourley

Eric di Monte- Know the person you are negotiating with. If you have seen reactions in the past when other people have asked, keep them in mind.

Marcelo Silbert- Know as much as you can and understand priorities in the company and always approach the salary negotiation strategies in an unthreatening way.

Vanessa Smith- I know the best time to come to me is when we’ve had a good Q1 or Q2

Katherine Salazar- Always negotiate.

Salary Negotiation Strategies: Is the salary that is being offered, truly what is being offered?

– Asked by Explorer Megan Siemers Livingston

Eric Di Monte- One of the things of salary negotiation strategies is to know the company. In most companies there is room to negotiate, but it is all about expectations.- Don’t ever show your hand first.

Tiffany McFarquhar- It all depends on the position you apply for.

Angelita Roman – Not everything is about money or salary; it’s about the quality of life too.

Marcelo Silbert- Show that you care about the business.

Salary Negotiation Strategies: How do I negotiate for my boss to let me go to a conference?

How do I negotiate for my boss to let me go to a conference?

Effective communication in the workplace: How do I negotiate for my boss to let me go to a conference?

Yvette Sanchez- Let your boss know what is in it for them to let you go to a conference.

Salary Negotiation Strategies:  How do I approach women bosses?

– Asked by Explorer Mariana Pena Cater

Vanessa Smith- Be assertive. It sometimes seems that we are too aggressive if we are trying to negotiate, but we aren’t.

Deborah Radcliffe- Aggressive, like being in someone’s face is different, being assertive is what you want. You can talk about your accomplishments without being aggressive.

Additional salary negotiation strategies and effective communication in the workplace suggestions:

Deborah Radcliffe
– If you can’t negotiate, sometimes you just have to walk away.
– Find others to advocate for you.

Marcelo Silbert
– Find out what metrics your company uses and understand what people expect from you.

Patricia Pedraza
– Keep a really good track of your accomplishments, it can help you get a raise.

Vanessa Smith
– When interviewing, know the company top to bottom.
– We are all our own ambassadors.