Soft Skill: Good Communication

Female executive looking frustrated in an office with her colleagues discussing in the background
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Human beings are social creatures. Unlike dogs, cats, or goldfish, we have the ability to give voice to our problems and verbally express ourselves when something's not working out. But while we may be communicators, that doesn't mean we're always good ones--if that were the case, no one would ever yell at their siblings, or get into a fight over the last bag of Bugles in the vending machine.

Outside of relationships, there's no place where good communication is more key than the workplace. No, we're not talking about your rambling, typo-ridden emails. An office is a microcosm of larger society, and the status quo of peaceful productivity can be easily disturbed by a few poor judgment calls. But never fear! AOL Jobs is here to help with this comprehensive breakdown of the best communication advice available, so lower your clenched fists, put down the Bugles, and take a look.


Things you should never say to your boss
Maybe your boss is a Michael Scott type, the kind of superior who wants to be your friend and hang out after work over drinks. Even if that's the case, you can't forget that they occupy a higher rung of the ladder, and you need to approach your interactions with tact. This means you need to stop practicing your standup routine on them--save it for open mic night.

Phrases that will make your boss happy
It can be easy to forget sometimes, but bosses are people too. They think. They feel. And there are things you can say to them that could do wonders for your professional relationship. We're not talking about magic words, just a few simple phrases that could take the awkwardness out of some of your interactions. Hint: one of them is "You're a wonderful boss."

Asking for a raise
There are few situations as fraught with tension as asking your boss for a raise. It's a tightrope walk that would make Philippe Petit shudder, but there are still a few things you can do to come in prepared and improve your chances. Yes, that means not cursing your boss out.

Telling your boss about a co-worker's inappropriate behavior
No one likes to think of themselves as a tattletale. But there's a difference between telling on someone and simply supplying information about behavior that shouldn't be allowed to continue. Here's how you can do that without playing the blame game.

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Getting along with difficult co-workers
"I didn't come here to make friends!" You might shout these words if you're a cast member of The Real World, but behaving affably is a key element of happy, functioning workplace. That's not to say you need to be everyone's best friend, but you should still aim to be friendly and cooperative, even to those co-workers whose personalities might not mesh so well with yours. Remember: you're all on the same team.

Gossip is good for productivity
No, not the kind of gossip about how Lucy's breath smells like cat food, or Frank's ties look like optical illusions. A recent study has found that work-related gossip ("Frank's ties are putting Lucy in a trance and preventing her from working," maybe) keeps the office slackers from slacking off, and improves overall productivity. Just don't go too far, or you might hurt Frank's feelings.

What not to say to your co-workers
The lion's share of our days are spent around our co-workers, people whose lives may otherwise remain distant and perhaps even mysterious to us. It's an odd, in-between kind of relationship, and it goes without saying that there are some boundaries you should never cross. Like telling them they look pregnant. Definitely don't do that.

Be mindful of office politics
Remember that thing we said about how an office is nothing like The Real World? We take it back. Offices are actually a whole lot like The Real World, with all the political undercurrents you'd expect in an environment where power is wielded and divvied. It pays to be aware of office politics, although how much you play the game largely depends on how comfortable you are with the calculating, reptilian part of your brain.

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Know thyself

How to be a better communicator
Maybe the issues you're dealing with require more general advice. We've got you covered here, too. Remember that listening is an integral aspect of good communication, and that you should always know and respect your audience--whether you're giving a presentation on quarterly budgets or playing death metal in a dive bar.

Finding the right job for your communication style
Maybe you're a think-on-your-feet squawk box, or maybe you're someone who's more comfortable communicating over email. Whatever the case, there's a perfect job out there for your personal communication style. Not sure what that might be? Why not take this quiz and find out?

> Great quotes about communication

> Find a job you love

Photo source: Getty Images

Check out more quotes on being a good communicator here.
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