According to a report by King’s College London, in partnership with the National Citizen Service, social intelligence (the set of abilities and skills we use to understand social situations), is a key skill all individuals need in order to stand any chance of getting a job. As stated by Christina Patterson, writing for the Guardian in 2016, “over 200 employers were interviewed, and nearly all said that social intelligence is now more important in new recruits than IQ or exam results”.

And for the sake of those ‘digital age’ champions who love nothing better than telling anyone and everyone they come across that tech has made social skills / intelligence redundant, permit me to drill-down a little further.

According to CIO online magazine, ‘A recent study by Glassdoor found that in 2017, 14 of the top 50 jobs in the US are in tech. So, it goes without saying that technical skills are in high demand. But hiring managers say that communication skills are even more important than tech skills’.

Rather than put this in my own words, it’s far better to simply quote directly from CIO.

‘I recently attended the Federal Data in Action Summit in D.C, where the White House convened the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine personnel management team, along with a group of hiring managers in the data science and technical fields to discuss such topics as data science education, training and hiring. During a panel where hiring managers, including the CTO of the Environment Protection Agency, discussed the “Future of Data Science Education and Recruiting,” a clear theme emerged as each panellist spoke about the number one skill they look for in candidates. The surprise? It’s not data science skills they all seek – it’s communication skills…..

According to Carolyn Wilcox, head of recruitment for The Iron Yard, and a senior tech recruiter with 19 years’ experience, the reason it’s so important for technical talent to have strong communication skills is because “Ultimately we are hiring technical developers to solve business problems or to meet company goals. Their ability to understand and comprehend the organisation’s challenges, then translate those into technical solutions is imperative.”

Furthermore, the difference in salary between a software developer and software developer with the ability to communicate effectively with clients, can be as much as US$50,000.
My question is this;
Why do we continue to fool ourselves into believing that communication skills are no longer relevant in today’s world?
The reality is that as technological development increases in speed and ferocity, more and more jobs will be taken-over by those dreaded robots. And the inevitable result will be that more and more individuals will be working for themselves. And regardless of what kind of entrepreneur you are, you’re going to need to sell your product / service / idea to someone.
The ability to communicate effectively is of paramount importance to a cross section of career paths. Why? Because no matter what you do, you need to be able to listen effectively – understand, empathise, identify, and communicate solutions. If you can’t communicate you won’t get very far.
So, what are we talking about here?
1. Listening

2. Understanding your audience

3.Connecting with your audience via Mirroring or Adapting

4. Speaking with confidence

Notably, three of the above skills are routed in an ability to listen effectively – utilising both eyes and ears. The best negotiators, whether in business or public sector are usually the best listeners.

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s digital world is the inability of young people to communicate effectively. Unfortunately, due to pressures of meeting targets, many schools are unable to address it. As a result, thousands of young people are ill-equipped to cope with life after school / college. There is an urgent need for schools to address this impending epidemic by partnering with organisations that specialise in empowering individuals to communicate effectively.

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