While the brains of students have been filled to the brim with knowledge for decades, communication skills have only emerged as a subject of the academic conversation in recent years. It was about time, because students noticed that both during and after their college years they lacked required soft skills. In this article, we will look at 11 different essential communication skills for students!

1. Teamwork

One of the most pivotal but also overarching soft skills is teamwork. Those who are unable to collaborate in a group will have a hard time. In the academic world, but possibly even more so in a professional environment. Problems that can lead to a negative evaluation by fellow students, could lead to contract termination in a company. Within teamwork, multiple soft skills come together, such as empathic communication and asking follow-up questions in Communication Strengths in Teams.

2. Presenting

A student has little chance at completing a full education without ever presenting. Whether it’s a completed project or a research proposal, getting your point across to a group remains an important soft skill that is also highly relevant in the business environment.

3. Interviewing

In qualitative research, interviewing is a skill that directly contributes to the quality of research. For example, an interviewee who feels comfortable and is asked the right questions will share more information.At the Utrecht University, students are trained in interviewing skills before conducting interviews.

4. Face-to-face feedback

Even though peer grading is becoming more popular, not every student is equally good in giving feedback. Providing (formal or informal) feedback in the right way to one another in a group or duo, is surely not a superfluous communication skill. It prevents misunderstandings and increases overall quality.

5. Debating & Discussing

The university is ideally a place to exchange and test ideas. A good discussion or debate is part of this. If all participants clearly argue their statements and do not play the man, it provides more room for a constructive discussion within a research.

6. Negotiate and influence

A soft skill that will probably turn out to be even more relevant after finishing studies than during, is negotiating and possibly influencing others. To make employees understand and agree with a change or decision, for example. This is certainly not something every student is capable of.

7. Conflict management

Who of us completed their entire study without ever seeing a working group in a conflict? It can be paralyzing for the dynamics of the group, especially if the group lacks the skills to deal with the conflict and come together. Conflict management is something that the student will experience again after graduation, if he or she has to lead a team for example.

8.  Applying for a job

Talking about graduation: a good resume (CV) might land you that job interview, but during the interview itself, you will need communication skills! Especially studies that don’t really guarantee a job should offer training so these skills will help students to communicate what their worth and potential could be for a company.   

9. Personal pitch

It helps a student to be able to present himself in a concise and effective manner, thus radiating more self-confidence and preventing ambiguity. What do (or did) you study? What are your interests? What are your strengths? This is not only useful when talking to potential employers, but also when introducing yourself to a new group, participating in a sports team, or the first meeting with your father-in-law.

10. Networking

During their studies, many students think networking is a dirty word. Afterwards, that might still be the case. But if you can do it in a natural way, you might just end up at that nice internship. Or that one recruiter of your dream employer still remembers you a year later!

11. Intercultural communication

Many students will come into contact with new cultures at the university. Awareness and knowledge of communication in other cultures helps to build mutual understanding and trust, which benefits research quality and relationships.

What soft skill would you like to add? Check out a presentation about online soft skills training at Utrecht University!

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