The top—yet most underrated—business skill is communication, two CEOs said recently.
“Communications is the No. 1 skills gap across … major cities in the United States,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said on CNBC last month. He cited findings from a study of LinkedIn member profiles and job listings that spanned more than 100 U.S. cities and 120 major skills.
Yes, the imbalance among highly technical skills associated with cloud computing and mobile software engineering has persisted for a long time, but now a need for basic digital fluency is turning up, Weiner said. Employees need to know word processing and how to use a spreadsheet, for instance.
“Those foundational skills are so important because when you have that foundation in place, if you are displaced or the needs of your jobs and your companies have changed, you’re in a much better position to reskill and find new jobs when you already have that strong foundation in place,” he said.
In a recent Business Insider article, Voicera CEO Omar Tawakol said employees at all levels “could use a crash course in the forgotten art of active listening.” Voicera provides mobile, secure communications solutions.
“Active listening is beneficial for everyone engaged in a conversation,” he said. “The speaker feels appreciated, and the listener retains more information and earns favor from the speaker. Everyone wins.”
Tawakol offered five tips for being a better listener. The first is avoid monopolizing the conversation. This seems obvious on its surface, but when employees go into meetings with only their agendas in mind, they risk missing out on learning other important ideas.
Second, when someone else has the floor, or just your attention alone, look the speaker in the eye—even on video calls, Tawakol said. Additionally, focus on not tuning someone out for their speaking style.
“Just because they don't sound like Winston Churchill doesn’t mean their points are invalid,” he said. “Rather than rush to judgment, focus on the content of the conversation and look for the value in their words.”
Next, summarize what the speaker said. This helps you stay focused on the content, and it shows others that you’re engaged in the conversation.
Lastly, follow up with a message that recaps the conversation’s takeaways. This is the most overlooked part, Takawol said.