"Two thirds of employers rank communication as the top soft skill they want in employees, " says Kathryn Lehnerdt, Managing Member at CorporateWise.
Communication is also the most in-demand soft skill in most industries, including engineering, finance, healthcare, information technology and sales.
This comes as no surprise when considering the importance of communication in every sphere of life.
"Communication goes across board, spans industries and, because we don’t work in complete isolation, we need direction, we need to give and receive feedback and we need to share information," says Lehnerdt.
Can we talk about it?
Cultural, religious and social diversity in the workplace has given South Africans a greater level of understanding and awareness. However local businesses still have some way to go in terms of successful communication, warns Lehnerdt.
"Compared to Asia and Europe, we are quite far behind when it comes to strategic and effective communication."
This is also witnessed on social media platforms which can have both a positive and negative influence on controversial issues.
Houston, we have a problem
"Ironically, while it is management who believe that communication is an essential soft skill, as with most things, the breakdown of communication is often top down. "
According to Lehnerdt it’s critical that managers learn to effectively communicate with staff, which she says seldom happens.
Poor communication leads to a "culture of mistrust and confusion".
"We’re too reactive and less responsive and this results in underlying resentment and, ultimately, a breakdown in communication as we now sit with preconceived ideas and a lack of direction."
How to talk the talk
So what can we do to improve communication in the workplace? Lehnerdt offers three quick tips:
Listen and set an example
Take time to understand unique and individual communication styles
Work towards a mutually agreeable outcome
"It’s critical to understand that we have different communication styles. Once we become aware of this, dialogue then becomes so much easier and we are better able to listen effectively and communicate with understanding and awareness."
Join the Critical Communication Workshop hosted by Corporate Wise to revolutionise your communication style!
By Cindy Payle - Portal Publishing