This archived article was written by: Emily Manley
Workforce skills are gained in a myriad of ways. Higher education is one of the most measurable forms of preparedness for the workplace. However, there are other skills required in almost every position that are not necessarily gained once you have graduated with a degree. Communication skills are often overlooked as the millennial generation seeks employment. It is regularly assumed that interpersonal communication comes naturally and is learned without any formal training. Employers are often surprised by the amount of training it takes to prepare employees for simple workplace tasks, such as customer service, holding professional telephone conversations, and conflict resolution. Just because someone has earned a degree does not mean that they are a fully competent employee.
The millennial generation has grown up in a technological world. We were using MSN Messenger, texts, and now snap chats to communicate with our peers. The angst of our teen years found an outlet through electronic transmission. We shy away from face to face confrontation and freeze up when addressed with an issue that we cannot think about, type, delete and re-type before responding.
The digitization of our communication skills is not entirely negative. The key is to balance our tech savvy communication with interpersonal communication.
Knowing how to build rapport with people is essential. Anyone can say “Hello, my name is Benson, how can I help you?” but if you say it like a robot the person on the other line can tell and it will leave a sour taste in their mouth concerning you and your company. Conversely, if you say those same words with a smile in your voice and an engaging tone you will be much more likely to have a happy customer on the other line.
The secret to being a good communicator is in the small things: tone of voice, eye contact, smiling, small talk and body language. Everyone wants to see a friendly face and to have someone remember their name. If you show someone that you are genuinely invested in them, they will be more likely to invest in you and your company.
They want to know that you care that their car broke down, cell phone is faulty, cat had kittens or whatever the case may be. If you show someone that you are genuinely invested in making their day better, they will be more likely to invest in you and your company.
As we young adults finish our schooling, and trudge through our minimum wage food-service jobs, we should focus on the opportunities we have to build communication skills. Take a group communication or interpersonal communication class (both offered at USU Eastern). See how well you can engage with the people at the table you’re waiting, ask them how their day has been and be genuinely interested in their story about their grandson turning eight. It will be great practice building your customer service skills, and it might even get you a bigger tip.
If you can master the skills it takes to foster a trusting relationship with those you work with, you will be surprised how far you can progress. If you can put the customer at ease and make them feel appreciated, your sales will improve. If you can assert yourself with clarity and confidence, people will come to respect you. And if you can resolve conflicts quickly and calmly, then you will be a commodity that any employer will be quick to hire.