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Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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1.2 Effective communication

Arguably one of the most important skills for career resilience is communication. There are several ways in which boosting your communication skills can have a positive impact on your career resilience.

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Figure 2

At work:

  • being able to communicate clearly with those around you in the workplace can reduce conflict and clarify shared goals, boosting team resilience as well as your own
  • clear and appropriate communication can enable your voice to be heard by leaders who don’t always ask for feedback
  • asking questions can ensure you are more informed about upcoming changes and so can plan more effectively
  • the ability to communicate well with clients can boost your success at work and bring you greater job satisfaction.

Progressing your personal career goals:

  • positive self-talk is an important form of internal communication – boosting your self-esteem and confidence
  • good communication skills will enable you to network more effectively if/when you are looking for a new job or career change
  • good communication skills will significantly enhance your recruitment performance, in applications and interviews.

Clearly, working on your communication skills can be a useful way to build your career resilience.

SkillsYouNeed (2019) suggests four key areas ‘that most of us would do well to improve’:

  1. Learn to listen – don’t forget that listening to the response is just as important as broadcasting your message.
  2. Study and understand non-verbal communication (including body language, tone and pitch of the voice, eye contact, facial expression etc.) – this will help you to understand people better.
  3. Be aware of your own and other people’s emotions, and learn to manage them – this is also known as emotional intelligence.
  4. Develop your questioning skills – crucial in ensuring that you’ve understood someone’s message correctly.

The second point raises the issue of non-verbal communication, an important element of communicating clearly.

Non-verbal communication

As you saw above, non-verbal communication isn’t just about body language – there are other clues you can pick up on that will help you understand a person’s mood and how well they are receiving your message.

Activity 2 Identifying non-verbal cues

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Non-verbal signals are in all of our everyday conversations, from formal meetings to informal chats.

Make a list of any non-verbal signals you can think of. Think about your own cues or the ones you see others use when you communicate with them. Remember they can include body language, facial expressions or even pitch and tone of voice.

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Negative cues might include:

  • repeatedly looking at a phone, checking a watch or looking out of the window
  • shaking the head or frowning
  • slouching in the chair.

Positive cues might include:

  • slightly raised eyebrows or nodding
  • mirroring the gestures of the speaker
  • leaning forward slightly in the chair.

If you can pick up these cues in your everyday conversations, you’ll gain an advantage in understanding how your contributions are being received.

Here are some other examples of non-verbal cues:

  • Crossed arms and legs present a physical barrier that can signal resistance to ideas. Avoiding this type of body language can demonstrate that you are interested in a conversation or meeting.
  • Gestures, such as the way someone uses their hands or arms during a conversation, can impact on the message being delivered. They can either be distracting or used for impact when making key points.
  • Eye contact – people who avoid eye contact can seem to be untrustworthy or very shy – both barriers to overall performance in a job interview for example. However, it is useful to note that in some cultures eye contact can appear to be disrespectful, so bear that in mind if you are working with colleagues globally.
  • Facial expressions can help you to understand whether the other party has understood what you are saying, or is listening to you properly.

Emotional intelligence

Another important element of communication highlighted by SkillsYouNeed is emotional intelligence. Watch this short video from MindTools to find out more.

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Video 3 Developing emotional intelligence
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Did you notice that some of the themes you’ve already explored this week came up? Many of the themes you’re exploring in this course are closely interconnected.

In fact, emotional intelligence is also closely connected to resilience. Shuman (2016) describes an interview with Dr Daniel Goldman, author of a key text on emotional intelligence, where he provides a new perspective on it as a critical factor affecting a person’s resilience during crisis:

He explains that a person who is self-aware, socially adept, and empathetic [… has] the social and relational skills to be able to handle unexpected and unfortunate circumstances. They know how to advocate for themselves, to problem solve, and to seek support when they need it the most.

Another element of resilience is boosted when emotionally intelligent individuals provide empathy to those around them:

Being supportive and compassionate to others can have a positive impact on our emotional adjustment – when we feel needed and believe that we can help others, we also become stronger and more resilient.