Developing strong communication skills both written and verbal is more essential now than ever before. Technology has changed the way many people communicate allowing people to connect from all over the world, at any time, in many different mediums. But having the skills to be an effective communicator, to gauge your audience, and to deliver a meaningful and impactful message requires practice. We reached out to Matt Crevin, Founder of TalkShop, to share his thoughts and ideas on how and why our young adults need to develop strong communication skills.
Courtesy of Unsplash – Austin Distel
Here are a few questions for you to ponder: Are we as parents or anyone else who works with today’s students, doing all we can to prepare them for college and ultimately the real world? Are we collectively doing all we can to best support them to function the best way possible once they leave home? Supporting the next generation by way of offering them some pivotal life skills? Today, there is still the traditional focus on academic and technical skills. But there’s another set of skills that are pivotal to students’ future success—and it’s becoming clearer by the minute.
We’re talking about “soft skills.” As a parent myself, as well as someone whose mission is to develop today’s students to become effective communicators, the need in teaching these skills is growing by the day.
Courtesy of Unsplash – Mikael Blomkvist
What exactly are soft skills?
They’re the non-technical “people” skills—often referred to as “21st-century skills”—that help people secure and keep a job. They include skills related to professionalism, communication, a positive attitude and politeness, teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking, and networking—the kinds of skills often mentioned in letters of recommendation and the types of skills most seen as the top one or two requirements on a job description. The types of skills needed to share conversations with college admissions officers!
Effective communication skills are the most critical piece of social development. Real, genuine human connection is the key to personal and professional success. The ability to formulate an idea and articulate it in such a way that people from varied backgrounds can understand it is essential, not just for achieving professional or academic success, but for simply being able to interact with people on a daily basis. Countless research has demonstrated that the 14-23 demographic these days often have ineffective interpersonal communication patterns and fear face-to-face interaction – especially the workforce emerging “Generation Z.” After all, they are the first generation born into a fully technological environment. With all the cyber craziness and screen scrolling, research shows that they have an attention span of 9-seconds! Texts and Snapchat simply won’t cut it. They need real, tangible communication skills in order to flourish later in life, whether that is in college, the workplace, or within their family sphere.
For today’s students, it’s shocking how “connected” they are. So connected in the fact that they can be in touch with someone around the corner or around the globe with a few twitches of their thumbs. What’s also shocking is the high level of apprehension around having any face-to-face interactions, regardless of whom it’s with or what the topic is. I’m talking about a basic face-to-face conversation. Not via a screen or by a phone, in person!
Here’s another question for you: Whether you are a parent or not, do you truly feel young adults today have the skill sets to have a hard or difficult conversation with anyone? Most of us, not just today’s students, will inevitably need to have a challenging, hard, or difficult conversation with someone. Whether it’s with a parent, a teacher, a coach, a manager, a co-worker, or in a relationship. The easy way out is to run for the hills. But we should all have the skills to have these, as well as many other face-to-face conversations.
The Importance of Listening
Here’s yet another question for you: Do you like being understood? And I mean truly being understood. I would like to think we all want to be understood. But what does it take to understand someone? It takes listening. Not passively listening and head nodding to pretend you are tracking with someone….and not listening and then interrupting someone when you want to share your opinions or agenda. Listening to truly understand. Asking someone a question and then asking the person to clarify it so you can really understand. Talking is easy; it’s basically just sharing what you already know. Listening takes patience and it can be hard at times. But when you listen, you just may learn something new!
Talk Shop workshops are designed to support the growth of impactful face-to-face conversations. Not only to improve academic results but also to improve the way young adults communicate within their family sphere, within their social circles, and of course to be life ready! Think about a meeting with a college admissions officer or a job interview; is your student ready to create the best impression by clearly and confidently articulating their story and the unique value they bring to the table?
In an ever-changing digital world of apps, screens, and devices, having a live conversation is a pivotal skill. Whether it’s a hard or tough conversation or trying to navigate ways to resolve a conflict, having face-to-face conversation skills is key! Now more than ever, the world needs more face-to-face conversations.