Your skill at communicating with others at work can determine your career success, your potential for promotion, and even your satisfaction with your job. That’s because improving your verbal and written communication with your customers, colleagues, and leaders makes you better at your job. Here are the five secrets to effective communication.

  1. Plan What You’re Going To Say

Before writing an email or preparing notes for a meeting, think about what you want to say. It may help to write a short outline so you can better decide what points need to be told and what you can leave out. Then, write your email or meeting notes focused only on the essential points you need to make.

  1. Actively Listen When Others are Speaking

Make it a habit to really focus on what another person is saying whenever they are speaking. Please resist the temptation to start crafting your response while they are talking, which causes you to potentially miss out on important information. Instead, take in their words and think about the meaning behind them before responding.

  1. Disagree Harmoniously

It’s important to share your suggestions and ideas for improvement with your leaders. There may even come a time when you disagree with a new policy and procedure management is proposing. When you speak up, you show your thoughtfulness and commitment to the company’s success. Do it politely and concisely, and explain why you are against the idea. Always follow up with a suggestion you think works better and why.

  1. Take Public Speaking Classes

Mastering the art of public speaking gives you the confidence to speak in front of a group. It is also a skill that gets better with practice. Most large companies and community colleges offer a course to help you learn and practice the skills needed to be comfortable speaking in public. Developing this talent is especially important if you plan on progressing into a management position.

  1. Make Time for Networking

Another essential aspect of business success is spending time networking with your peers and bosses. This step allows you to display your improved communication skills for others to see. One way to start is to ask others about their career goals and their plan to achieve them. Look for common ground and build a conversation around it.

Put these five secrets to work for yourself and discover how improved communication skills benefit your career.