Communication Skills EVERY Student Needs

Having effective communication is vital to the success of a project. The communication between yourself, your colleagues and your client needs to be able to carry out and deliver a final project to meet the initial brief set. Carrying out client projects during the autumn semester, the importance of communication has been really highlighted as being the foundation to an overall successful project.

Below are the 8 important communication skills we see as essential to students whilst carrying out team and client work:

Ability to use positive language

The way you choose to speak to your colleagues/team/clients makes all the difference. If you constantly choose to use negative language, chances are, people are going to find it extremely difficult to work along-side you. Sure at times you’re going to have to assertive, but make sure you don’t cross the line into being aggressive. This use of aggressive language will potentially put off any future collaboration between yourself and your client as well as your colleagues. No one wants to work with someone that’s going to be unpredictable and unproductive.  

Not only is positive language essential to communicating generally amongst your team, but it is a great aid to pitch ideas and express your opinions towards the final product. You want to persuade everyone that is collaborating on the project that you truly have an idea that is going to benefit everyone. At the end of the day you’re trying to sell your idea to your team, you’re not going to stand there and highlight all the negative factors. You want to talk about everything you think is great with the idea and the potential, positive results that could come from putting this idea into play.

Read before responding

Make sure to read every word before responding. Minimise any social media, turn your phone over and focus on what is in front of you. Feedback on projects may contradict previous feedback given to you, but gaining a full understanding as to what your client or colleague is asking you will minimise this on your part. Reading word-to-word will allow you to highlight the points you need to act on and respond to, as well as ensuring you’re still acting on everything the client wants their final product to have.

Though sending an email is an effective communication that does have its benefits, if you’re finding your responses delayed or perhaps non-existent it may be ideal to schedule a phone call, video-chat or face-to-face meeting to ensure everyone working on the project is up-to-date and the client is still happy the brief is being met. It allows all parties to ask up-front questions and clear up any grey areas that may have existed before.

The key is listening

Listen to and respect what others have to say. This doesn’t mean stare blankly at the wall behind them and zoning out, focus on their thoughts and ideas. Make eye-contact, nod along, anything that that demonstrates to the person talking that you’re being attentive to their thoughts and ideas. It’s not just being respectful to the person talking, but their thoughts and ideas may help develop your ideas, see things from their point of view. 

Photo credit: Billy Brandt

Photo credit: Billy Brandt

Schedule

Having a routine for communication allows everyone in the process to stay within the loop on how the project is developing and track the development of a project. Updating the necessary people regarding the progress you’ve made on a project ensures everyone is kept in the loop and is aware of what you’ve achieved as well as the progression you’ve made.

Watch you body language

Physical signs that you are giving to the person you are communicating with, whether or not you are talking, are also picked up. This can easily affect the way that person is listening or how they interpret the point you are getting across. Therefore, when talking about an important matter, be sure to think about how what your saying is being perceived visually. Having the face-to-face communication is important with your colleague or client, you’re building their trust within you, so take full advantage of the opportunity. Not having eye-contact, looking un-interested and expressing closed body language speaks volumes to the person who may be speaking to you. Not only are demonstrating a lack of interest but also are essentially putting off any future clients that you may have the opportunity to work for again.

Open to becoming mindful

To be mindful is to pay attention within the moment in a particular way, becoming aware of thoughts and feelings without drawing an automatic assumption to the positive or negatives. By focusing on what’s happening in the moment, the encouragement of clarity and calm will help focus on what is happening in the present rather than everything there still is left to do. Only focusing on one thing at a time will help focus on the task at hand rather than looking at the project as a whole – reducing the stress levels of the project and increasing productivity on the task contributing to the overall project.

Right Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Struggling through a project that you’re not sure could result in a complete misinterpretation of the client’s original brief, causing yourself more work and a potential un-happy client. Make sure you’re confident in what the client is asking of you, don’t just make assumptions if you’re unsure.

If you’re speaking to someone, ask them open-ended questions to ensure that they are on the same page as well as invite their contribution. This will hopefully invite the clear-up of any uncertainty there may be to ensure everyone is fully-informed and on the same page.

Keep the client informed

Keep clients and colleagues informed of your progress. If there’s anything you’re missing or may have misunderstood, it will give them a chance to re-direct you before you develop the project too far. Whether this is by email or over the phone, regardless of whether the client responds or not, the client has been kept up to date on your part. Try to actively seek the client’s feedback within your messages, it’s the client’s opinion that really matters at the end of the day so ensure that you know the project is heading in the right direction. Try to arrange a face-to-face meeting where it is possible, it gives you an opportunity to get the client up to date as well as settle any up-front questions either the client or yourself have.