The Millennial Career Dilemma Series-6 What do employers mean by ‘good communication skills’?

By Shubika Bilkha


Have you ever wondered why despite a better or if not equal profile, some people get selected for job roles more often than others? And why some people build better networks, are preferred teammates, leaders and motivators?


I can’t remember ever reading a job description that doesn’t include ‘good communication skills’ within its top 5 selection criteria. Whether it’s the most technicalor the least people centric job roles, communication skills always seem to appear at the forefront in the selection process. The multi-device, multi-medium world that we live in has only further emphasized the importance of good communication. In a highly sensitive, social media driven and overly-engaged world, there is little opportunity for a poor communicator.


So then really, who teaches us how to be better communicators?


In The Bullseye Principle, authors Riley Mills and Robert Dean Duncan highlight that effective communication skills are at the heart of professional and personal success. They talk about the concept of intention based communication that focuses on ensuring your audience thinks/feels/acts in sync with the message you wanted to deliver. An interesting point they discuss in their book is that because we communicate all the time, we assume we must be good communicators.The reality is that developing effective professional communication takes time and needs practice.


All this talk of effective communication takes me back to my College days when I read Anurag Mathur’s The Inscrutable Americans where the protagonist Gopal Kumar struggles to overcome various cultural and linguistic barriers on an American College Campus. He often mistakes an innocuous cordial greeting of ‘How are you?’ to mean that someone is genuinely interested in his day and life. This results in him ‘over-sharing’ or in millennial speak giving TMI (too much information)!


Good communication skills then extend beyond just the mere verbal or written mediums to include non-verbal and digital/video/multi-device communication. It is about communicating positively with clarity, reading other people’s behaviors, managing conflict, having difficult conversations easily, being empathetic and adaptable. The most important is that it involves active listening, as all communication has to be two-way for it to be effective.


At job interviews and in the workplace, you can often see people indulge in behavior that isn’t always in tune with the basics of good communication. As new graduates looking to enter the workplace or as seasoned professionals, it is equally essential that we follow some of the work-place communication hygiene checks below to make us more effective:


Know when there is TMI: In the workplace, we need to limit communication to what is absolutely essential to keep it effective. Whether it’s in a client meeting or at an interview, communicate on a need to know basis ie. precisely and with clarity to avoid indulging in TMI.Your personal life should remain outside the realm of the work place.


Keep it Positive:Don’t begin a meeting with all the negative components that you had to endure to achieve or that resulted in you having missed achieving a particular outcome. Start all your professional communications on a positive note and focus on offering solutions rather than stating problems.


No ‘Phubbing’: This is especially important for the millennials and Gen Z. When in meetings or at job interviews make sure you keep all your devices on silent and away to avoid ‘phubbing’ the other party. It is important to value another person’s time as much as your own.



Don’t Fake It: Remember, non-verbal cues speak volumes! After all, there is no point giving a compliment or a raise or saying how much you like this company if your body language says otherwise.


Show that you Care:A little empathy goes a long way. Be human-centered in your approach towards all stakeholders, much the same way as you are in your personal life.


Confidence not Arrogance: Clarity of thought, precision in communication and being well informed will enable you to exude confidence in your interviews and meetings. Remember to draw the fine line between confidence and arrogance. People look for confident candidates, not arrogant and entitled ones!


Think Twice:In the work place effective ‘phrasing’, being ‘measured’ in your communication and using ‘professional language’ will take you a long way. It is especially important to self-check ourselves on this in moments of annoyance and extreme stress.


Intellect > Mind: Let your rationale and reasoning guide you over your emotions and desires. The more you think with your ‘intellect’ the more evolved will you be as a professional.


About the Author- Shubika has an ideal blend of corporate experience and entrepreneurship in India and Internationally. Her experience of over 12 years spans the finance, technology, ecommerce, education and real estate sectors. As the managing Director of two early stage start-ups in technology and education, she has hands on experience in strategy, execution, operations management, marketing, sales and customer experience, HR, recruitment and finance.


Shubika is a published author and a prominent media spokesperson for the real estate and education sectors having contributed to publications, portals, panels/events, the radio and television channels in India. Shubika is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College, USA and Columbia Business School, USA; an Associate Member of the Chartered Securities Institute (CSI) in the UK; and has completed the “Building Excellence in Higher Educational Institutions” at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad.

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