English Communication skills- 8 Top Soft Skills Employers look for

Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- 8 Top Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For

There are lots of dif­fer­ent aspects to Eng­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills, and some of them have come to be known as “soft skills’.
Soft skills can be defined as inter­per­son­al skills that you use when you work and inter­act with oth­ers. These skills are impor­tant because you need these skills as well as your pro­fes­sion­al tech­ni­cal skills, to be able to inter­act and com­mu­ni­cate at work and social­ly. These skills sup­port you to fit in, and to be able to move ahead in your career.

Accord­ing to Forbes, 94% of recruiters believe that top-notch soft skills out­weigh expe­ri­ence when it comes to pro­mo­tion to lead­er­ship posi­tions. They are an impor­tant part of get­ting a job and essen­tial for career growth.

There are many ‘soft skills’ and I will talk about 8 skills in this arti­cle.

1. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills-  Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Speak Clear­ly

This is sort of an obvi­ous one, but some peo­ple don’t realise how impor­tant this is. If you want to get ahead and fit in at work, it’s impor­tant to speak Eng­lish clear­ly. If col­leagues, employ­ers and clients/ cus­tomers have to work hard to under­stand what you’re say­ing, they become tired and give up, or find it frus­trat­ing. This gets in the way of clear, open com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Besides this, it is also very frus­trat­ing not to be under­stood by oth­ers, and not to be able to get your mean­ing across.

As one of my stu­dents said, ‘Peo­ple think less of me, and don’t believe I have the skills they need, because I have a heavy accent in Eng­lish, and some­times peo­ple can’t under­stand me.’


2. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Greet­ings

It’s impor­tant to greet peo­ple appro­pri­ate­ly, and look at them when you greet them and when they greet you. You need to take the time to do this because it’s part of build­ing your con­nec­tion with oth­ers at work, or on your team. Notice how peo­ple greet each oth­er. What words and phys­i­cal ges­tures do they use? Learn to use them also. This also includes say­ing good­bye at the end of the day.

3. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Smile

Make sure you smile at the per­son you are greet­ing. This sig­ni­fies that you are open to their com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and open to inter­act­ing with them. The flow on effect of this is that you are open to being part of ‘the team.’

4.  Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Polite­ness

In Eng­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tion it is impor­tant to use the com­mon forms of polite­ness- please, thank you, would you mind…. etc. Even if this is not the way you do it in your native lan­guage, if you don’t use polite skills, you will be con­sid­ered rude and that you don’t have the ‘peo­ple skills’ that you need.

Notice how oth­ers respond, ask for some­thing etc. This includes body lan­guage which is a big part of what we uncon­scious­ly pay atten­tion to when inter­act­ing with oth­ers. (How close do they stand-per­son­al dis­tance, what sort of facial expres­sion do they use to con­vey their mean­ing etc).

This also applies to writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion as well. Use please and thank you. How do peo­ple sign off in their emails? How does the boss sign off as apposed to a col­league?

5. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Word stress

If you want oth­ers to under­stand a par­tic­u­lar mes­sage or instruc­tion and espe­cial­ly if you are giv­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, then work on Eng­lish word stress. You need to stress (empha­size) the words you would like them to pay atten­tion to.

Anoth­er rea­son to mas­ter this is because cer­tain words said with stress, can also con­vey your inten­tion with­out you actu­al­ly explain­ing your inten­tion.

For exam­ple, let’s take the sen­tence ‘I want you to dri­ve.’ I’ll write the stressed word in bold each time and explain the inten­tion implied:-

I want you to dri­ve. – I par­tic­u­lar­ly want you to dri­ve. Maybe oth­ers don’t , but I do.

want you to dri­ve. – It’s my wish that you dri­ve, not me.

I want you to dri­ve. – I don’t want any­one else that’s here to dri­ve .

I want you to dri­ve.– I don’t want you to take the bus or walk, I want you to dri­ve there.

6. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Into­na­tion

This ele­ment also con­veys intent, but is more about speech intent. For exam­ple, if you want to sig­ni­fy that you haven’t fin­ished talk­ing and want to keep going, but are paus­ing for effect or to take a breath, you make your into­na­tion go up- not as much as with a ques­tion though.  (usu­al­ly this cor­re­sponds to where you would put a com­ma in writ­ten speech).

If you have fin­ished say­ing your piece and are hap­py to have some­one else have a turn, you make your into­na­tion go up for the vow­el just before the end of the word, and then down at the end.

Lis­ten how col­leagues use these cues in speech. Attune your ear to it so you can use it also.

7. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Abil­i­ty to Lis­ten

Devel­op active lis­ten­ing to oth­ers rather than wait­ing for your turn to talk. Notice what they are real­ly try­ing to get across to you includ­ing the emo­tion behind what they are say­ing, and respond to that.

For exam­ple, you might ask your sec­re­tary or col­league how some project, or piece of work is going. They may say ok… with a pause, or have a doubt­ful look on their face. You can notice this and could say “Are you sure? You don’t look sure about it. Can I help in any way?”

Or if some­one sounds frus­trat­ed as they are telling you some­thing, rather than offer­ing a solu­tion straight away, you could say ” That sounds frus­trat­ing.” This shows the speak­er that you ‘get’ how they’re feel­ing and will feel/ think that you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing and con­nect­ing with them well.

Anoth­er aspect of this is fol­low­ing the instruc­tions you are giv­en rather than try­ing to do some­thing else because you think it’s bet­ter. If you think it might be bet­ter, dis­cuss it first. The per­son giv­ing the instruc­tion may want you to do it that way for a rea­son.

8. Eng­lish Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Skills- Soft Skills Employ­ers Look For- Atti­tude

This seems obvi­ous, but often this is more impor­tant than the actu­al skills some­one may have. It is impor­tant to have the technical/ appro­pri­ate skills for the job, of course. On the oth­er hand, if some­one has great tech­ni­cal skill but isn’t inter­est­ed in being enthu­si­as­tic, or being friend­ly, or being part of a team, or will­ing to learn, it can mean that an employ­er will choose some­one else with the same skill lev­el, who does have a good atti­tude. Atti­tude is an impor­tant soft skill.

For more on oth­er impor­tant soft skills have a look here.

Best wish­es, Esther

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