There are certain communication skills that every employee needs to learn before entering the workplace that can make or break their career success. From learning how to speak to current customers effectively to communicating with other co-workers, various ways of communicating can improve relationships at the office as well as sales and partnerships.

But how do you know if you’re effective at communicating with others?

Most of us think we are but are we really?

When considering what the most important communication skills are among employees, there are right around 10 that must be prioritized in order to succeed in the early days of a career and especially thereafter.

1. Clarity

Perhaps one of the most important communication skills that every employee needs to learn is how to be clear when they communicate with others.

Clarity will prevent misunderstandings, it will increase the likelihood of successful relationships, and it will help employees maintain a professional demeanor.

Misunderstandings don’t only cause conflicts but can greatly affect a business. To maintain optimal clarity, be sure to be concise and direct as you communicate with customers, co-workers, and especially your employer.

Refrain from providing too much general information and be especially clear about what you can do, when it will be done, and what the other individual can expect from the result of your actions.

In other words, don’t beat around the bush and be as specific as you can when you communicate with others.

Communication Skills

2. Respect

Respect your customers, employer, and your co-workers by respecting each of them and their role in your career.

Before you enter the workforce, be sure you understand that respecting others is vital to your relationship with others, your reputation, and it can even impact your success with career advancements or getting new jobs.

Speak in an appropriate tone, learn your boundaries, and remember to respect others higher up than you on the career chain even if you don’t agree with their personal opinion.

3. Listen More Than You Speak

Listening can be one of the most effective communication skills that any employee learns to masters—and it requires the least talking of all of them!

Listening to others’ concerns, needs, beliefs, and opinions can provide great insight for the direction or answer you’ll need to provide whether you’re speaking with your boss or a potential client.

Considering other co-workers, listening can also be an effective way to maintain a healthy relationship without overstepping your boundaries.

Good listening skills are also one of the most valued (and rare) communication skills found in the workplace today where more people are interested in sharing their opinion rather than listening to what the needs of others are.

Note-taking is also a part of listening.

Learning to take thorough notes can be a great way to create reminders of what the needs are varying individuals whether it be customers, employers or consumers.

Practice good note-taking skills now and you’ll likely see huge improvements in your overall listening skills.

Communication Skills

4. Confidence

On the other hand, displaying confidence is also an important trait in the workplace.

Confidence can come off many different ways, many of which aren’t the most ideal. But the right type of confidence can help you appear both professional and responsible.

Here are some examples:

Learn to develop a firm handshake when you meet others. This is a great way to display confidence.

Learn to speak in a clear and direct tone to individuals and to larger groups, but refrain from sounding arrogant.

Be willing to listen to what others have to say (see above), and then give them a chance to speak and respond in a confident manner what shows you understand their needs and concerns. Provide valuable feedback and don’t be afraid to share an idea if you have one.

These are all ways to display confidence that can help you advance yourself in the workplace and it can help increase your chances at communicating more effectively with others.

5. Ask Questions

Part of listening is also asking questions. So in regards to becoming a good listener, be sure to also how to learn questions based off what you’re hearing others need or desire.

For instance, let’s say you’re in a meeting and your boss is speaking about how the company hasn’t been providing the most optimal form of customer service during the last quarter. He provides a list of things he would like to be corrected which includes two actions that you’re not exactly sure about in terms of specifics or how to go about actually doing them.

So don’t guess, ask. Wait for an appropriate time to speak and then ask questions so you can attack the concern head on.

On the same note, when you’re with a customer who is expressing concerns, asking questions will become extremely valuable to help you learn their direct concerns because it will allow you to address their needs appropriately and as specifically as possible.

6. Appropriate Body Language

Body language is another one of the most important types of communication skills you can learn before entering the workforce. Learn to display great posture which is one of the best ways to display confidence and professionalism.

Also, be sure to refrain from crossing your arms in front of your chest when speaking to others. It can come off as standoffish or display a lack of confidence. Don’t slouch, and be sure to address others respectfully by looking them directly in the eye instead of at the ceiling, wall, or at the floor which can come off as uninterested or arrogant.

Firm handshakes and a warm smile are two other forms of valuable body language, and maintaining appropriate physical space between yourself and others and customers is a great way to show your respect for their personal space.

7. Empathy

This is a tricky form of communication to master, but once you learn the basics, it’s not too hard.

Empathy shows concern and acknowledgment of other people’s needs or concerns, and it’s also a great way to maintain good relationships. The key is to know where to draw the line between showing empathy and overstepping the professional relationship boundary.

For instance, if a customer is upset about a personal situation, it’s important to master great empathy by expressing your condolences and apologies for their hardship without entering into the problem yourself and trying to fix it.

Another example of showing great empathy within the scope of boundaries is being willing to listen to a co-worker’s concerns about a company concern without trying to get involved yourself and creating bigger problems. You certainly don’t want to ignore the co-worker’s concerns or you might come off as rude, but you also don’t want to involve yourself too much and create further problems.

Empathy is one of the most underlooked types of communication skills you can learn, but if you master it correctly, it’s one of the most valuable communication skills as well.

8. Great Public Speaking Skills

Another important communication skill to learn is how to speak more comfortably, especially when speaking publicly in front of large groups of people, such as in conferences or at seminars.

Along with confidence, learning to look at different members of the audience and deliver your thoughts in an appropriate manner are also important and valuable speaking skills that will help you in your career.

9. Positivity

When speaking to others, always maintain a positive demeanor and refrain from being negative or automatically dismissing anyone else’s ideas. It’s also important to be positive when taking on new assignments which can come across as enthusiastic and willing to take on new things.

Positivity is also a valuable trait that employers look for when hiring new employees, which is a reason in and of itself to master the trait if you’re trying to find a new job.

Communication Skills

10. Learn

Above all else, one of the most valuable types of communication skills is to continue to be a learner. That means opening your mind to the possibility of ideas, continuing to learn new skills, and always learning from experiences whether good or bad.

While this may not seem like a communication skill, it’s actually one of the best because it teaches you how to relate to others and can help you learn to speak and listen to others more appropriately. Learning can also help you provide valuable insight to situations which can improve your overall work skills and even make you more productive.

Remember that communication skills in the office don’t only provide you more tools to become the best employee you can be, but they’ll carry you a long way in your career just as much as learning a new trade or getting a degree.