Monday, September 27, 2010

Communication skills

Most of us have heard the phrase: All good things come to he who waits.  Actually, the real quote, from Abraham Lincoln said:” Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  What are you waiting for?  A grade?  A job? An incredible career?  A great impression on someone?  According to Abraham Lincoln, you need to be out there hustling to make it happen.
 Today’s job market is tight, but companies are hiring.  Last week, my husband attended a conference.  Business owners across the nation attend this conference every year to improve their relationships with other in their field.  Since their companies provide technical products, they hire people from engineering, engineering technology, and business.  I asked Karl to ask everyone he met the following question: What is the most important reason they hire a particular individual?  Their overwhelming answer: communication skills.  They gave many examples of poor communication in emails, letters, phone calls, reports, summaries, and text messages.  Listening to their answers, the real issue revolves around how well an individual interacts with another individual. 
Three particular examples really stood out.  One CEO was appalled when he received an email from a recently hired college graduate.  He had asked the person to work on his spelling and grammar in a customer presentation that the person created.   The errors were significant and in many cases embarrassing.  The response from the new hire: “I don’t have time for your #$%&*# insistence on grammar and spelling.” 
In another case, a customer shared a ‘contact’ call with a VP.  One of the VP’s new salesmen left a message stating in a lackluster voice: ‘I am from X corporation. My boss said I should call you to see if there is anything you need.  Call me and let me know.’  The salesman did not leave his name or contact information. 
In the third situation, the person had been asked to investigate a particular product on the Web and provide a summary of the information they found.  The response: ‘Look it up yourself, why should I take the time to surf the web, I shouldn’t have to learn that way.’ 
Does it surprise you that none of these individuals are currently employed with their former company? 
You have probably noticed in your courses the wide variety of assignments you receive, each asking you to use a different form of communication.  Hopefully you realize that we are trying to prepare you for your eventual career.  As you prepare your homework, ask yourself: How well do you interact?  Do you speak clearly on the phone?  Do you always clearly leave a contact number?  Do you clearly state the purpose of your call, text, report, summary, letter, or email?  Do you proofread to ensure what you said made sense?  Do you proofread to ensure that you actually communicated your message?  Are you able to read, absorb, and then summarize information that your colleague or boss has asked to you find?  Do you believe the work that you are doing or have been asked to do is important?  Follow Abe Lincoln’s advice and hustle!