It must happen for anything to get done in the workplace. Communication! As a designer, artist, or creative we don’t always think about the importance of communication and people skills. A lot of artists think or hope that they are just going to quietly work at their desk. Maybe they will have to talk to the other artists on their team at times and of course occasionally communicate with the project coordinator. I’m not saying this scenario can’t happen, it might sometimes work out that way. However, there are a lot of different work environments out there at various sized companies too. In smaller companies, you may have to interface with lots of people in many different roles. On the other hand, you may end up being a freelancer who must communicate with the clients directly. Both situations are going to cause you problems if your people skills are not up to snuff.
Some people are born as extroverts and others as introverts. There is also a third group of people that have a little mix of both personality types. For extroverts, social behavior comes naturally. Communication in the workplace shouldn’t be as difficult. For introverts and semi-introverts working on communication is going to be a much more difficult task. Don’t worry though, everyone has plenty of things they can do to practice and hone their communication skills.
The first major tip is to learn and practice active listening. Active listening is a communication technique that involves clearing your mind and really understanding what is being said to you. There are lots of books and websites out there that give steps and pointers on how to develop your active listening skills. Another much more advanced socializing technique is to go out and strike up a conversation with random strangers. I know, I know this sounds terrifying, and it can be for a lot of people. My argument would be this: If you are going to make a fool of yourself socially, wouldn’t it be better if that person was a stranger instead of your boss? Simply having conversations with new people will help you get better at communication. Still too much? That’s okay, we can work up to it instead. Practicing improv is an amazing way to get better at communication. In fact, it is so helpful, there are improv businesses out there that go around teaching improv at corporate events. Improv has it all when it comes to communication philosophy. Listening, don’t over complicate, don’t over talk, support your teammates, and remember information and communicate it back. These are all major pillars within the improv world that can be utilized in real world scenarios. Another great way to practice communicating is to join a speech, debate, or public speaking group. When I was in a start-up company, I suggested my CEO join Toastmasters so he could work on his communication skills. After just a few months he and my co-worker, who also joined, showed major improvement. They also met new people and gained new clients by networking at the group. Toastmasters focuses on public speaking and is a great way to get over the fear or speaking in front of larger groups. Your 1-on-1 conversations will also benefit from practicing public speaking.
I hope these tips will help you succeed in your creative endeavors and remember to practice them just like the other skills you have. Better communications can lead to better confidence, and better confidence can lead to more opportunities!