One of the biggest tools you’ll use in the professional world has been with you the entire time: your ability to communicate.
Don’t believe me? I guess you’ll have to keep reading to understand what I’m talking about.
Before we get started, hi!👋 I’m Krupal Patel, a second-year engineering student at the University of Alberta. I’m also a Student Intern at Illuminate Universe. Recently, the Illuminate Interns had the privilege of having Sam Thiara facilitate an Intern Training Session about “Effective Communication”.
To get back to my earlier point, I’m going to share what I learned about effective communication and my biggest takeaways from the session.
Importance of Communication 🗣️
In school, we get taught that having the highest GPA and taking the hardest classes is the most important thing and the only path to success. And yes, I can’t lie, they are sort of important in a sense, but they’re not the only way to success.
Another integral part of being successful in your career is having good soft skills.
Soft skills include:
creative thinking + problem solving
emotional intelligence + empathy
having motivation and drive
The last soft skill Sam discussed in the training session, and the most relevant to the blog and our session: the ability to effectively communicate!
To understand the importance of effective communication, we’re going to take a look at the Communication Process Model.
The area we’re going to zero in on is the section in the middle between the sender and the receiver; the area labeled “noise”. Noise, Sam told us, is anything that disrupts or limits the communication between the different parties involved in the engagement.
Effective communication is crucial because it takes away the noise in the middle so all the involved parties comprehend what is being said or presented and they can leave the conversation or event with a clear understanding of what was said.
Effective Communication 101
So now that we understand why effective communication is important, let’s dive into the different ways Sam discussed that you can use to ensure that your communication skills are clear and top-notch.
Branding: Who Exactly Are You? ☕
One of the biggest things that Sam touched on that stayed with me was the topic of personal branding.
Having a personal brand ensures that people know what you have to offer when they engage with you. Sam used a creative analogy about a corner store and a Starbucks. Imagine you were in the need of something common such as a pair of flip-flops and your two options to obtain your flip-flops are either a corner store or a Starbucks. Now, most people faced with this decision would immediately decide against Starbucks because they know and understand what Starbucks has to offer. You want to aim to be more like Starbucks; people should know exactly what you have to offer and your values.
To help you get started here are some tips Sam shared with us on personal branding:
Craft your introduction. Your introduction should tell the person/people who you are and the basis of what you do + what you offer. The more you practice your introduction, the more confidence you’ll build in yourself and your abilities.
Identify your 5 core elements. Your core elements should be values you are not willing to budge on. Any and all projects you engage in should hit 5 out of 5.
Ask “why?”. Begin by asking yourself basic icebreaker questions such as “what do you like?”, “what do you dislike?”, and/or “what makes you nervous?”. After you get an answer, keep asking yourself “why?” until you understand your “why?” This could also help you decide on your 5 core elements.
Relationship Development 👥
An interesting thing I noticed Sam did was instead of saying “networking events”, he would “relationship development events”. I really liked that because it gave these events a deeper meaning into what you should be doing: forming relationships.
So, for these relationship development events, Sam dropped some pretty amazing tips:
Don’t look for the “impressive question”. Make sure you’re engaging and asking follow-up questions instead of blurting out long, extensive, and overly complicated questions just to impress someone.
Get there early; you never know who you’ll meet.
Quality of engagement > quantity of people you talk to. Even if you only talk to 2 people at the event but you build a strong connection with them, that’s a success!
Don’t bring out your phone. Be engaged in the conversation and if it’s urgent, make sure to inform the other parties and politely leave the conversation to take the call.
Seek out someone who’s not talking to anyone.
It doesn’t matter who they are. You never know what they could offer or how this relationship will play out for you in the future.
We communicate with others numerous times every day. It’s an integral part of who we are as a species and it’s an essential tool in order to have a successful career, no matter the field.
I hope you found my takeaways from Sam’s session as helpful as I did. A huge thanks to Sam Thiara for taking the time to sit with us and share his knowledge on “Effective Communication”!