According to a study conducted at Queens University of Charlotte, nearly 75% of employers rated teamwork and collaboration as being “very important”. However, only 61% of surveyed employees worldwide believed their organizations collaborated enough.
Some people may think that communication skills are not essential to succeed as an engineer. However, the ability to communicate with colleagues and managers is a key differentiator between a good engineer and a great one.
Effective communication can enhance your company and career, pulling you miles ahead of your competition. This post explains the importance and benefits of developing communication skills as an engineer.
Why Effective Communication Is Important
Communication skills are no longer an added bonus; they’re a necessity. Every day, engineers collaborate across disciplines, which requires that ideas be effectively communicated and understood by multiple stakeholders. Technical coordination involves learning, teaching and collaboration, which all demand that you have strong communication skills.
As engineers, we are innovators. We not only have big ideas, but must also have the ability to communicate those ideas clearly and concisely. We are responsible for educating and supporting each other from idea to action.
Effective communication is important because it:
- Allows employees to play a vital role in the success of the company.
- Fosters better work relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
- Limits misunderstandings before they lead to costly mistakes.
- Provides clarity and better understanding of expectations.
Ineffective communication in engineering workplaces leads to misinterpretation and time wastage, which decreases overall productivity and leads to employee disengagement.
The Benefits of Effective Communication
Get this: actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 to $550 billion per year in lost productivity. Conversely, actively engaged employees can make dramatic positive impacts on the quality of work. There’s no doubt about it: having the right communication skills allows you to increase engagement, clarity, unity, productivity and innovation.
How to Be a Better Communicator
It takes time and practice to adopt better communication habits, but it is imperative that you learn how to communicate with others in order to be successful. Here are a few ways to get started:1. Become a Better Listener
It’s easy to let your mind wander when other people are talking. Learning to give your undivided attention is just as important as developing your verbal, visual and written communication skills. Make a conscious effort to understand what others are trying to communicate to you, and be vocal if there is anything you don’t fully understand.
2. Keep It Simple
Know the goal of communications before you reach out. Chances are you’re busy, so it’s best to keep it straightforward and to the point. Know what you want out of the interaction, and get rid of any distractions.
3. Know Your Audience
Not everyone enjoys communicating in the same way. It is important to know with whom you are communicating and how you intend to do it before reaching out.
Ask yourself questions such as:
- How does he or she prefer to be contacted (e.g., email, phone call, meeting, informal discussion)?
- What is the end goal of our communication? How can we achieve this goal?
- What will resonate with the person I am trying to communicate with?
It’s not just about what you say; it’s about how to say it, too. Practice what you want to say before saying it, or try writing it down beforehand. How you present yourself speaks volumes about your work and yourself.5. Take Note of Body Language
What a person shows with his or her body can be more telling than the words they are actually saying. Keep an eye on their body language to get a better gauge of what they really mean.
Image Source: Vincent Diamante