The Most Important Communication Skill Is…

EFFECTIVE WRITING!  At least, in my opinion.

Let me give you the backstory.  I had the opportunity to be on a Q&A panel for a group of Project Management students at a local university.  Myself, along with two other panelists, had close to 50 years project management experience which we were eager to share.  The questions students asked ranged from how to handle difficult team members to the mechanics of scheduling.  It was fun, dynamic and I loved every minute of it.

Naturally, many of the questions revolved around communication.  When asked about what, in my opinion, is the most important type of communication, my answer was effective writing.

In face-to-face or over the phone conversations, even if the person is bad at explaining things, I can ask questions until I get the info needed.  In writing, however, the originator needs to be clear because the receiver may not always respond with questions.  I also work with global teams so email is the best way to communicate given timezone differences.  Therefore, writing needs to be very effective or delays can occur in back and forth exchanges or requested work executed incorrectly.

We are in an increasingly digital world.  I’ve seen some predictions that say by 2020, 50% of the U.S. workforce could be remote.  That means coworkers will not have regular, if any at all, face-to-face interaction.  Factor in global teams, and the communication matrix gets even more complex.

With these dispersed teams, the ability to effectively write becomes important.  Conveying ideas, making decisions, describing a problem, or even giving a simple status can be construed if not written well.  Even companies like Basecamp no longer have customer service lines, but instead use chat to resolve issues.  Only good written communication can resolve those easily.

When hiring, be sure to look at the candidate’s writing capabilities to ensure they’re effective.  Also, be aware of your own writing and get training if needed.  In today’s world, writing will continue to be extremely important.  So that is why, in my opinion, writing is the most important communication type.

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