Soft Skills in the Field Service Industry: CommunicationBy My Service Depot on Monday, January 4, 2021
Communicating effectively has a tremendous positive impact on everyone who interacts with a business.
Today we continue our deep dive into the world of soft skills for field techs and office staff in the field service industry. In our previous article, we reviewed some of the most important adaptability soft skills. Now, we will discuss communication. Most people look at communication itself as a soft skill, but in reality it comprises a whole subset of soft skills. Mastering all of these can take your company communication to the next level!
Before we dive too deep, let’s establish a definition for communication. Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information or news. The important part of that definition is “imparting or exchanging.” The reason? Communication is a two-way street and all parties need to do their part in order to make sure that people communicate and communicate at the optimal level. This article will review the skills of public speaking, active listening, empathy, and confidence, their importance to the process of communication, and the implications for your business.
When people think of communicating, most people think of the verbal aspect of it. This is why public speaking can be so critical to your business. Communicating effectively is a skill that must be refined over time. Whether speaking with a group of two or two million, a few simple tips and tricks can set you apart from others and take your public speaking to the next level.
1. Practice good body language.
When you speak with your employees in a meeting, you should remain relaxed, but still maintain good posture. This will convey accessibility and seriousness at the same time. People will engage and pay attention more than they would if you exhibited improper posture and a laid back demeanor.
2. Engage your audience.
If you have a company meeting, take the time to include your audience in that meeting. You should have some questions prepped to generate conversation about the topic you want to discuss. If you have the room to move around, you should walk from side to side periodically to get close to the audience and reach them directly.
Practice, practice, practice! (Yes, we are going to talk about practice.) The more you rehearse a speech or meeting topics, the more you will come across as informed and knowledgeable. Practicing will help you remove attention breaking words like “uh” and “um.”
If you fail to communicate effectively, you run the risk of unintentionally causing harm to your business. You need to get your points across effectively, or employees will make mistakes.
One big thing to remember? You won’t get a positive reaction every time you speak publicly. But that’s okay! Sometimes you have to be the bad guy, enforce company policy, or bring someone back into line. People won’t enjoy these conversations in the moment, but it the long run, they will benefit everyone involved. Remain calm and effectively communicate the message!
Oftentimes, we forget that half of a conversation is listening. Active listening is defined as the ability to focus completely on a speaker, understand their message, comprehend the information relayed, and respond thoughtfully. You can immediately see why this is a desired part of any skill set. Below we will dive into the importance of active listening in the workplace and what you can do to demonstrate or practice this soft skill.
In the ever-evolving workforce, active listening will always remain a cornerstone trait of a great employee. A good active listener will effortlessly exhibit many of the following attributes: not missing important details, building connections with others, trust building, and problem solving.
Practice, practice, practice! You might ask yourself; how does one practice active listening? Well, we can do several things, including asking open-ended questions to get more information out of the person speaking. You can also ask specific questions to ensure that you and the speaker are on the same page. Finally, you can wrap up an interaction by simply paraphrasing the conversation that you just had!
An employee who does not miss critical details is an efficient employee. Knowing that you can count on an employee will go a long way in building connections and trust. Trust-building does not just stop at a manager/employee relationship, it also trickles down to coworkers and customers! So, start working on improving your communication skills today.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person while not experiencing the event that caused them. Empathy in the workplace can do a ton for a company, as your team likes to see that their supervisor or company has empathy. For example, let’s look at a theoretical employee: Bob. Bob has just learned that his grandfather passed away and has come to relay the news to his direct supervisor. It is clear that Bob is emotionally distraught while telling his supervisor this terrible news. The supervisor has a few paths they can take:
- Acknowledge what has happened and keep it 100% business.
- Acknowledge what has happened, but instead of keeping things all business, open up about a similar life experience and offer condolences to Bob along with any relevant advice they have.
With option 1, Bob will leave the office feeling just as sad and upset as he did when he walked in. This might also lead to Bob not feeling as valuable as he could, and Bob could start thinking about looking for employment elsewhere. With option 2, Bob will most likely still leave sad and upset, but because he knows his supervisor has also experienced something similar and offered reassurance, that it will pass. Maybe the supervisor offered to be a phone call away or a shoulder to cry on, either way Bob will feel much more valued and respected because the time was taken to hear Bob and offer those words of comfort in an otherwise dark time.
Of course, the chance to use empathy does not only happen with cases related to death. It applies to many everyday conversations around the office. Sometimes the issue may be an upset stomach or a tough personal situation. Either way, the fact that you empathize with employees will allow your bond to grow and potentially cultivate loyalty. Employees who get treated right and know they can turn to people at work in a time of need do not leave companies nearly as frequently as those who get treated poorly or purely treated as instruments of business. Always strive to maintain some level of personal touch.
Empathy is not always something at the forefront of office conversations, and some people don’t understand how to show empathy. However, you can do two simple things to help show this quality:
- Ask questions. This will allow you to see what is going on in the head of another person, and it will allow you to take the next step…
- Look at things from their viewpoint. While this will not allow you to experience their emotions, it will allow you to recall previous personal experiences that may help you in offering some advice.
Piggybacking on empathy comes the soft skill of confidence. Confidence is defined as the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone/something. Think of it as firm trust. Having an empathetic relationship will go a long way to establishing trust with your employees. Having that trust will prove crucial to your business’ continued growth. Confidence is something that all leaders must have in order to get buy in from their employees. Without confidence in a supervisor, team members might not fully believe in leadership, and a company without the confidence of their team fill face many problems.
Confidence can be one of the hardest things to learn, simply because some people are not confident by default. Some people may struggle with self-doubt or just are afraid to say something wrong. Below you’ll find a few things that you can do to become more confident around the office:
- Talk to yourself. Before work each day, say things to keep yourself positive and thinking about goals. For example, “I can complete this project regardless of a shorter deadline” or “I can hit this monthly goal.” Keeping positive goals in the forefront of your mind will allow you to remain confident in the face of strife.
- Step away. Use breaks and lunches to recharge. Sometimes just five minutes away from your desk or office can have a big impact on the daily grind.
- Ask questions. To be confident, you have to understand what you need in order to succeed. Asking questions will allow you to get a better grasp on everything going on, thereby building confidence.