If there’s a shorthand reason for why you need communication skills to complement your technical skills, it’s that you don’t get paid without them. You need communication and “soft” skills to get work and keep working so that people continue to want to employ you to apply your core technical skills. A diverse skill set that includes communication is really the key to survival in the modern workforce, and hiring trends bear this out.
In its Employability Skills 2000+, the Conference Board of Canada lists “the skills you need to enter, stay in, and progress” in the 21st century workplace. The first category listed is communication skills, specifically how to:
- Read and understand information presented in a variety of forms (e.g., words, graphs, charts, diagrams)
- Write and speak so others pay attention and understand
- Listen and ask questions to understand and appreciate the points of view of others
- Share information using a range of information and communications technologies (e.g., voice, e-mail, computers)
- Use relevant scientific, technological, and mathematical knowledge and skills to explain or clarify ideas (Conference Board, n.d.a)
In other words, the quality of your communication skills in dealing with the various audiences that surround you in your workplace are the best predictors of professional success.