Use the Classroom to Learn the No. 1 Soft Skill: Communication

Communication SkillsWhat makes someone a good employee? Characteristics like a positive attitude, attention to detail, and organizational skills are at the top of the list.

However, the one skill that stands out in the best employees is well-developed verbal communication.

We know how important it is to express ourselves verbally. For college students, however, it’s hard to know how to practice, and when. The office, perhaps during an internship or that first job, would be the ideal place to learn the ropes of strong verbal skills, of course… but by then, it may be too late.

We do have an alternative: the classroom. By flexing those articulators in class, we’re doing our part to hone our communication skills – and becoming far more employable in the process.

Here are three familiar classroom communication scenarios and how you can use those experiences to help you on the job:

Speak Up in Class

An easy technique that will pay off in the future, speaking up in class is one way to familiarize yourself with leaning in. Presumably, the classroom is a place that is nonthreatening and comfortable. Think of this as home court advantage–you have nothing to lose, so try and make a habit of talking in class. If you have an interesting point, make it. If you have a question, ask it. Try to be a participant in all of your classes, even the ones where you don’t know the material as well.

Conditioning yourself now to add to the discussion will serve you well in future meetings with co-workers, with clients, and with upper management. By learning to speak with different groups of people about different topics in class, a board room will look like a manageable stepping stone instead of a mountain.

Make Friends With Others

There’s always one class where you don’t know anyone. Instead of taking a seat in the back and texting the friends you wish were there, introduce yourself to the people around you and get to know them better. Not only will this make future classes less awkward, but it’s a good professional skill that will transfer well to the workplace.

Meeting new colleagues, networking, and the office Christmas party will all be easier to handle if you take a step or two out of your comfort zone now and be social with the new faces in class. They say it’s harder to make friends as we get older. Avoid making that a trend in your life and say hello–you never know where it will lead.

Don’t Be Afraid to Approach Your Professor

When things are confusing in class, it’s tempting to wait it out and hope that all will eventually become clear (hint: that doesn’t usually work). Other times, papers or assignments are so jumbled that there’s no telling how to get started on the right path. Unfortunately, even with the nicest professors, some students feel intimidated by seeing a teacher outside of class and asking for clarification.

Office hours aren’t there to make you feel inadequate or scared, but sometimes that’s how they’re painted. Yes, it may be a little awkward, and yes, you may feel silly for asking questions, but it will be worth it. Getting used to talking to professors outside of class when you need help is strange at first, but ultimately beneficial. In your work life, you’ll need to be comfortable enough with your supervisor to ask for clarification when you need the assistance.

Unlike school, your work assignments don’t just apply to you; they apply to the whole company. Take a deep breath and seek out answers to your questions to make sure that your best (and most informed) effort is front and center!

Your communication skills are a difference-maker in the workforce; they may mean the difference between a job offer at your dream company… and not. For the upcoming Fall semester, make development of this critical skill a priority!

Do you have any advice for communicating well in the workplace? Please share in the comments below!





For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Levo League!



Rachel WendteAbout the Author: Rachel Wendte is a recent grad from Butler University where she studies Arts Administration and Music. Wrapping up her undergraduate career is surreal, but she’s anxious to start her next adventure! Elsewhere, she writes for Her Campus, a vibrant online community for college women. She loves interesting vocabulary words, statement earrings, a cappella music, and throwing dinner parties for her friends. Follow Rachel on Twitter!


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