Good communication skills are necessary not just for journalists, educators and CEOs, but for nearly anyone who interacts with others in order to do their work. In other words, anyone in any job must learn to be a good communicator. If you're looking to move up the ladder at your workplace, you'll need to draw on these skills to build relationships, advocate for a raise and negotiate your new salary.
Develop good relationships with your supervisors and co-workers. With co-workers, this may mean talking with them about their personal lives from time to time to develop a good rapport. Or, you might let them know when you need help or when you're starting to fall behind. With supervisors, this may mean giving plenty of notice about time-off requests, or having a regular meeting time in which you can discuss your role and how you can move up in the company. Maintain good daily communications with your fellow workers through open, honest and friendly dialogue, and you can set yourself up as a "favored" member of the staff.
Keep notes about the progress you make in your work. Keep a file that details the awards you've gotten, the big sales you've made, or the ways you've gone above and beyond in the workplace. When it's time to ask for a raise, make a bullet-point list that details some of your biggest accomplishments at the workplace. Good communication is not just oral communication -- it's also written communication.
Prepare a "pitch" for your employer, in which you meet with your boss to ask for a raise or promotion, and then let the employer know why you deserve it. Start off by letting the employer know that you appreciate the opportunity to work with them, and name a few of the things you like most about your job. Then, state your intention to continue to grow with the company, and tell what promotion or raise you want. Get out your list of accomplishments and hand it to the employer. Giving your employer an easy-to-read document of this type can make it easier for them to understand why you deserve the raise. Plus, you're now communicating effectively through both written and oral methods.
Listen carefully to the employer's response to your request. Part of being a good communicator is effectively listening to what others have to say. By listening carefully, you may be able to pick up subtle cues that tell you what you need to do to get that raise, or what you're not doing that is holding you back. In some cases, you may be able to use the employer's response to develop a new, more effective strategy for next time.
Be tactful and realistic during the salary negotiation process. If you get your employer to agree that you deserve a raise, the need for good communication skills is not over. Write out a list of things the employer can expect in exchange for your higher salary. Listen carefully when the employer states the new salary, and stay respectful, even if the salary is not high enough. Then, use your bargaining chips -- those things about you that make you a good employee -- to remind the employer once again that you're worth more.
- If the thought of asking for a raise or promotion frightens you, the best way to combat the fright is to practice. Have a friend pretend to be your employer and do a mock pitch. Ask the friend to come up with reasons you shouldn't get the job, and then practice what you would say in response. Do the same thing for the salary negotiations. Practice with a friend ahead of time to reduce the jitters.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.