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Why Good Communication Skills Matter

I will put this simply: regardless of your education and career path, you will do one of two things.

  1. What you decide to do.
  2. What someone else decides you’re going to do for them.

If you want to be told what to do your entire life, you can stop reading now.

Talking to stars

Back when I was an astronomy major in college, an astronomy professor asked the class: what is the most important discipline to study for anyone who wants to become an astronomer? There were various guesses: physics, mathematics, chemistry, etc. The professor kept telling us there was something more important.

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Finally, he gave us the answer. English.


The entire class of about a dozen astronomy students was dubious. English? It isn’t like we can talk to the stars and ask them to give up their secrets.

The professor gave us our moment of doubt and then proceeded.

“If you can’t write a great grant proposal, you won’t get the funds to research. Without research, you won’t be able to publish. And if you don’t publish, your career will perish.” (That’s an example of anadiplosis. More on that later.)

If English is important to astronomers, then you can bet it’s important to every other career.

Ideas and knowledge will get you only so far.

There’s no doubt that you need to be competent at your job. The moreso, the better. Talking a good game will get you only so far before people realize there’s no there there. However, assuming you are knowledgeable and proficient at your job but don’t have the skills to communicate effectively, you will do yourself a disservice.

How to become a great communicator

Learn to notice and appreciate good writing.


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