January 11, 2018

Communication – we talk about it a lot, but what is it really?

Jutta Ruotsalainen

Finance trainee, Tieto

Communication is something you hear people talking about every day. It’s also a word you’ve probably heard so many times that you’ve stopped paying attention to it. But what does communication really mean?

The first thing that comes to my mind is two people having a conversation. Communication is definitely that, but it is also so much more. Communication also includes body language, eye contact, intonation and – perhaps most importantly –  how we see others and how they see us. So how do we manage something as interesting and complex as communication?

When I began my traineeship at Tieto four months ago, I didn’t realize how fast my time here would pass. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been working for Tieto for years, because it was so easy to adjust to my new job. Then there are moments, when I feel like I’ve been here only for a couple of days, because there is still so much to learn. For me, the jump straight from university to working life has been a huge change. I used to hang out with friends at university or just study for exams. Now my daily routine is more predictable, and I get to work with people who have so much to offer in terms of professional knowledge and life experience.   

On a general level, I think that communication skills play a crucial role in the modern workplace because more and more companies see themselves as service providers. That means that during an ordinary working day, you have to communicate with internal and external audiences on a wide range of topics and issues. To maintain interest in your message, you have to pay attention to factors like speaking rate and volume. You also need to be attentive and alert. For instance, if you answer your phone in the middle of a conversation, you can’t expect people to take your message seriously.    

What’s special about Tieto is that I had to put my communication skills to work right away. Since many of my meetings are via Skype, I’ve realized that you can work with people for months – even years – without ever talking to them face-to-face. You also can’t use gestures or body language to convey your message in these virtual meetings, so you have to make sure everything you say is clear and easy to understand. Now, more than ever, I appreciate how communication is always about adapting to new situations and challenges and not just studying some theory about communication at university.  

I’ve also understood the importance of having a supportive workplace if you want to develop your communication skills. Many of my colleagues in Tieto are skilled speakers and communicators, so there is always something I can take from our conversations and meetings. At the same time, they’ve inspired me to be more open and direct about my desire to learn new things and develop professionally. So how you express yourself can be as important as the message you’re trying to communicate.

Today I’m certain that everyone can improve their communication skills and that no one is the perfect communicator. And I hope some of my ideas inspire you to think about how you communicate and how communication is essential to an effective and good work environment.   

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