Monday, June 2, 2014

The most important skill to have at work

Recently I was contacted by an individual asking me what I thought was the most important skill one needs to be successful at work.  Pondering this request, I thought of many skills that were important to have, that aids in making one's work experience as successful and enjoyable as can be. Communication skills however won out as the most important skill to have. Communication however is broad, and does incorporate various aspects of human communication including electronic communication.

I have been guilty in the past of writing emails that were either not clear in their meaning, or were misinterpreted because of various reasons. Learning to communicate electronically is difficult, even for seasoned professionals who have remarkable speech communication skills. The issues with electronic communication is that the reader often incorporates their mood or emotion into reading an email, memo, or other electronically-sent letter. When this occurs, your writing can be misinterpreted, skewed, or worse, offend the reader.

My personal rules in writing communication that I send electronically are:
  1. Completely understand the program you are using to write the letter or memo (Outlook, etc). Know all the features to prepare a great document.
  2. Never write a sensitive-material letter when upset, angry, or in a foul mood, this just ends up becoming a rant on the computer screen.
  3. If I am upset, I do type it out...but NEVER, EVER send it. It is only one way that I can get it out of my system, if I have no one around to listen to me. Once I am done, I erase it from my computer so that I do not accidentally send it. Writing it down on paper is another way to sort out your thoughts.
  4. Always be professional when writing, Even if the person is some you know well. If it is business-related...write professionally. Dear Mr. or Sir, Dear Madam or Miss, Sincerely yours, etc. Business communication can be seen by many and leaves a lasting impression.
  5. Before hitting the SEND button - P R O O F R E A D - always!
  6. Finally, be clear and be concise.
Communication is key in any business and it provides the cornerstone for relationships developed through work.