I’m pleased to have been asked by the training site Webucator to write a post about the skill I think most essential for success. This was hard for me. After thinking long and hard, I have decided that, to me, possession of good communication skills is the most essential quality.
You may wonder why I have chosen a “soft skill” over a “hard skill.” Believe me, it wasn’t easy. I have worked with many people who have not been able to do the jobs they were hired to do. That is, they didn’t possess the hard skills—the ability to perform specific tasks, whether that involved certain software, or math skills, or whatever. That is indeed, frustrating, to say the least! But I tend to think that if an employee has all the hard skills in the world, but is lacking in the most basic soft skills, such as communication, empathy, positivity, time management, and so on, they cannot work effectively and harmoniously with other staff or the people you serve. So I’ve chosen a soft skill, communication, because I do think it is the most basic and important.
If you can’t effectively communicate with those you work with and for, or those you supervise, and perhaps most importantly, your clients, you really are not serving your organization well. Communication involves both sending and receiving messages, and I can think of very few fields where that isn’t important—but it is certainly important in libraries.
I think if you search the literature, you will find that others agree with me about the importance of communication skills. Here are a few that do:
- 10 Things You Need to Work on to be a Leader (the Fast Track)
- How to Improve Soft Skills (WikiHow)
- Top 10 Soft Skills for Job Hunters (AOL Jobs)
- What do Employers Really Want? (Quintessential Careers)
Part of being good at communication is understanding communication styles and being able to flex your style to work well with those with other styles. Want to Be More Productive at Work? Know Your People Style (from The Fast Track) and the book People Styles at Work by Bolton and Bolton are excellent resources about communication styles and style flex.
Like so many other skills, communication is one that we must constantly work at. I know I do.