Author – Beth Caldwell, Head Blended Learning, English, India
It’s a common situation: you want to shine brighter in interviews or at work. You wonder how best to get the job or promotion you want. You want that ‘X-factor’ that makes you stand out. The solution could be simple: focus on adding 21st century skills to your skill set.
According to a LinkedIn survey, 57% of senior leaders say soft skills in business communication are more important than hard skills. Other than job-specific knowledge, the key skills needed in order to participate in a global economy and succeed in a rapidly changing work environment are known as 21st century skills. They include:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving
- Communication and collaboration
- Global and cultural awareness
- Digital skills
- Leadership and personal development
Here are some things you can do to develop these skills:
- Be well-informed about your profession through Internet-based research for personal development and to flex your digital skills.
- Analyse ideas and concepts you read about: Think about the pros and cons of applying them in your own situation and develop your problem-solving abilities and creativity.
- Discuss ideas with colleagues or others in your industry, face-to-face or in the virtual world, to develop your collaboration and communication skills.
- Network with people in other states or countries for fresh perspectives and to build your cultural awareness.
- Build your communication skills by commenting on articles, taking part in online forums and making the most of video conferencing.
Taking an online course is a great way to advance your 21st century capabilities. They can help you develop self-motivation, time management, digital research and communication skills. MOOCs, for example, will expand your professional knowledge and provide global perspectives from other participants who join from around the world. The British Council offers range of MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform, including ‘How to Succeed in a Global Workplace’.
If you want to develop your communication skills in English, look for courses that focus on maximising opportunities for you to speak or write. A good course will develop your independent learning skills and offer practical learning activities based on real-life situations. At the British Council these skills are built into our course design. For example, our online myEnglish courses include communicative group tasks in live online classes – all under the guidance of an internationally-qualified and experienced teacher.
Whether independently or via a course, you will benefit from identifying and developing your 21st century skill set. With these skills in hand you can future-proof your career aspirations, stand out to employers and gain the advantage in the 21st Century workplace.
Join our free live online webinar and learn all about using online learning skills to get ahead in the global workplace.
Business communication is heavily reliant on emails – an indispensable tool in the business world today. Emails need to be written as clearly as possible to avoid causing confusion with colleagues, partners or stakeholders.
Here are 5 ‘C’s to keep in mind for clear, concise, and competent emails.
Complete: State your purpose up front and provide the right amount of information. It is a good idea to explicitly state what action will follow and when and who will do it. For example, ‘I am writing to enquire about the new photocopier model manufactured by NEWX.’ We should state the reason for writing in the opening sentence of the email and present all information in a logical order. Here are some quick tips and tasks to start and end emails.
Clear: Use precise language. e.g. ‘You now have until 31st March to remove all machinery from the site’. Keep it simple so your message cannot be misinterpreted – don’t use big words. Use linking words and paragraphs to logically connect ideas. For more ideas on organising emails, visit Learn English Website.
Correct: Check your email for grammar and vocabulary. Grammatical accuracy plays a big part in how you come across to the reader and if the message was received as intended. Read it as if you were the recipient – is your message completely clear? Remember, words are powerful, but the right words are dynamite. Our ‘LearnEnglish Grammar’ app for smartphones is a convenient way to practise and improve grammatical accuracy. Get more information about this app here.
Concise: It is important to use short sentences with no more than one or two ideas in each sentence. Take a look at this sentence: The recommendation I have, and this is the area which I will now address in this section, is that relating to the issue of whether we need to provide refreshment for the employees of our company. It being my considered opinion that in fact, it would save time if the aforementioned meal could be provided by our company rather than having the employees go outside for any eventual refreshment.
This is certainly not concise and may confuse your reader. Keep your emails crisp with easy to understand messages. Sentence length and “big” words can distort the message, and if your mail runs to many paragraphs, you likely have a problem! Who has the time to read long-winded emails? A better sentence is: In order to save time, my recommendation is to provide refreshment to all staff in the office rather than having them go out.
We develop business communication skills online with a teacher to help our learners develop clarity and efficiency with our courses for organisations like yours.
Courteous: Consider what the tone of the message is and strike the right level of formality. Our relationship with the reader influences our choice of language (formal/informal). When talking to your reader, you need to tailor your writing to fit their specific needs. Even formal emails are expected to be less formal than formal letters, but it is important to know these differences. Our ‘Email writing’ workshop develops email writing skills with a focus on the participants’’ ability to adapt their writing according to the audience, organise information to enhance readability, use plain English and to edit and proofread their own emails.
If you like the article, share it with someone who will like it too! Visit Learn English Website for more tips and tricks on writing effective and efficient emails.
The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. The British Council works with top companies across sectors to design customised business communication-related solutions targeting specific needs.
Our Business English Training programmes are highly relevant, practical and customised to the requirements of the company. Our interactive, communicative methodology helps us create a unique and engaging learning experience for every participant in our courses. To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact us on 0120-4569000 or visit our website for more information.