Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Career insights by GGI is a new series by GGI sharing hacks and tips around management consulting, MBA, product management and public policy.
In this GGI career insight, we will be sharing insights into: the soft communication skills you need to excel in your career. This includes- speaking, listening and writing.
Have you ever questioned what communication hacks you can use to advance your career? Or do you wonder if certain skills can make you earn more?
Great communication skills have time and again helped in my career as a former BCG consultant. In this career insight, I will be sharing my hacks around communication in 3 parts.
1.1 Talk in 3 points
Being brief and communicating succinctly comes incredibly handy in delivering your message.
As a BCG consultant, I used to interact with CXOs.
They were very busy and did not have the time to listen to the whole story behind an analysis. Knowing when to stop speaking is an incredible skill to have in your arsenal.
If you are curious about other skills that you need as a management consultant, check out my insights here.
1.2 Talk last
Being the last person to speak helps build gravitas.
Do you think that nobody pays any heed to what you say? That is perhaps the case because you speak a lot.
Being patient enough to speak at the end is a skill in itself. Sharing your thoughts after everyone has already spoken, helps you grab attention. It is actually a leadership trait, which is often followed by CEOs.
1.3 Focus on the output
Most young professionals do the mistake of focusing on their efforts rather than their output.
The reality is that CEOs appreciate it when you value their time and talk about the results.
Those who positively impact the key performance indicators are the ones who get promoted.
1.4 Be loud and confident
Speaking at a higher decibel level portrays you as a confident person.
Your impact and work tend to lose credibility if you are perceived to be shy. You should always be the most energetic person in the room.
1.5 Over-communication rather than under-communication
It is always better to over-communicate in case you are in doubt. This is particularly prevalent in a virtual setting.
It is better to tell your boss when you wouldn’t be available rather than keep them waiting for a response when you're busy.
1.6 Resonate the language and platform with your superiors
Matching the synergy with your superiors goes a long way.
This includes their form and mode of communication. If they prefer communicating via email, then use that platform.
1.7 How to give upward feedback
I have worked in organisations where the juniors can give upward feedback.
But, the way of communication becomes really important here. You should not come off as rude.
One way to do so is by using ‘we’ instead of a ‘you’ language.
As a CEO today, I really appreciate working with people who give me input on how we could have done things better.
We hire people to collectively improve the ecosystem.
Read my insights here to know more about the life of a BCG consultant in India.
2.1 Listen more than you speak
People tend to wrongly associate communication with only speaking.
Though, in reality, good leaders always focus on listening more than speaking, especially in two-way communication.
They will patiently listen to you before responding.
2.2 Control your facial expressions
Another hack here is to control your facial expressions.
Sometimes our expressions communicate our disagreement more than our words.
The best leaders are those, who don't let their thoughts and emotions be portrayed through their faces.
In the world of Instagram and YouTube, we are losing the skill of writing.
Today, I get hundreds of emails every day and I am struggling to juggle my time. Long and elaborate emails take up a lot of time, so I respond to them at the end of the day.
Likewise, I appreciate the employees who write straightforward emails and give them quick responses.
On a concluding note, I would like to add that you can learn soft skills only in an active and not passive format.
You can merely become aware of them by reading. You should surround yourself with high quality peers with whom you can actually practice these skills.
At Global Governance Initiative, we teach the practical problem-solving skills required to become a management consultant. Our masterclasses are hosted by leading professionals in the industry of consulting. This helps our students learn from real time experts.
Author: Shatakshi Sharma, Co-CEO Global Governance Initiative, Ex-BCG Management Consultant, Former Policy Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program, you can learn here.