How to Test Your Communication Skills

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Business executives need communication skills to accomplish almost every task they complete in a day. Performing negotiations, giving presentations, sending emails, writing reports, interviewing prospective employees and giving employees feedback all require communication skills.

The basic components of communication are written and verbal, but other factors like the audience, the goal you want to accomplish and your leadership style all come into play. It is also important that communication is working between the different levels of your organization. For example, it is important that employees communicate with managers and with each other and that managers communicate with higher authorities, too.

Ask yourself some basic questions about your communication. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself in written and verbal communication. Other aspects of management communication you will want to assess on your own include your assertiveness, your comfort with giving presentations and offering directions, and your facility with technological communications like email and social networking.

Analyze whether you are communicating effectively with each individual employee or coworker. Understanding who you are speaking or writing to, your audience, can help you determine the best way of communicating. Assess your communication in context. For example, are you communicating assertively when your intention is to give direction and are you using communication cooperatively when your intention is to facilitate dialogue between employees?

Assess your facility with language and grammar. For instance, are you fluent in the jargon of your business? Do you find it difficult to proofread company documents? Basic language skills are just as important to communication as the style of delivery.

Take an online communications skills test. Psychology Today, for example, offers a free communications assessment (See Resources). Another option is to contact a business consulting firm for information about taking a leadership style or personality test. By understanding your personality and leadership style, you ensure that your communication style as a manager is conveying the attitude you really have.

Establish whether your communication is getting the results you want as a manager. The real measure of communication in a business setting is whether the ideas communicated result in action on the part of team members. If you give feedback to an employee on his performance, for example, and that employee's performance does not improve, chances are you did not phrase the feedback in a way that was understandable to him. Another possibility, if productivity is down, is that groups in your organization aren't communicating with one another effectively. Some consulting firms offer organizational communications assessments that help you to determine whether your business has good structural communication.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that nonverbal factors play a role in communication, too. If you want to inspire your employees, for example, slouching and averting eye contact will not be as effective as standing straight up and making eye contact.

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