Communication Skills and the Project Manager

Developing the skills needed to communicate effectively takes time, practice, and feedback. Though there are many ways to structure and list the skills required to be an effective communicator, I've found it more useful to think in terms of functional competencies or abilities. The most successful project managers I've known had the following abilities:

• Ability to express themselves effectively in conversations with organizational management

• Ability to express themselves effectively in conversations with peers and team members

• Ability to express themselves effectively in conversations with subordinates and support personnel

• Ability to speak naturally in front of a large group

• Ability to prepare and deliver formal presentations

• Ability to speak "off the cuff" effectively

• Ability to negotiate

• Ability to write clear and concise notes and memos

• Ability to write technical reports and other technical material

• Ability to listen effectively

• Ability to know when to talk and when to be quiet

• Ability to provide constructive feedback

• Ability to foster open communication

• Ability to correct others tactfully

• Ability to gauge whether a receiver understands a message or not

• Ability to use vocabulary appropriate to the audience

• Ability to interpret nonverbal communication

• Ability to project poise and self-confidence

As you can see from the length of this list (and believe me, I could have listed several more abilities), communication requires many skills. There are many books, articles, and training programs on communicating effectively, but one of the most important ways to improve your skills is to get into the habit of monitoring and critiquing your communication style continuously, asking yourself key questions, such as the following:

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Project Management Made Easy

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