Across the board regardless of the level of the role (entry up to senior executive service in Government), tertiary and other sectors requiring the addressing of selection criteria, the most difficult criterion to write against is the COMMUNICATION criterion. Communication can encompass explaining, interpreting, persuading, influencing, negotiating, mediating, resolving, the list goes on. The mistake that most people make when they write for this criterion is they focus way too much on the WHAT. The focus should be on the HOW. That is, how you modified your communication (verbal and/or non-verbal/body language) to get your point across. I have included an example using the STAR model that showcases communication centred on conflict resolution.

I recently dealt with the company’s main client’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) that involved extensive discussions centred on their client’s needs in relation to a plant installation project. Initial discussions took place in a somewhat hostile and negative environment – the COO’s attitude and manner was abrupt, defensive and domineering; and he used offensive language at times. I approached the situation in a proactive and positive manner by actively listening and asking questions to draw from him his perspective on what the problem was and how this should be addressed. My non-verbal posturing as well verbal communication was calm, measured and deliberate. I used this approach to help reverse the tension and to demonstrate to him in a sincere manner that I was on his side to help him meet both his company’s and client’s objectives. I also took on the role of mediator between his company and their client, essentially minimising his workload by undertaking the time-consuming tedious components. I relayed all communications I had with the client back to the COO to keep him informed at all times; I communicated information in a concise factual manner (objectivity across the board) which appealed to his communication style. Throughout the course of our discussions, his attitude changed; he became more engaged, responsive and appreciative. At the end of the project, the COO expressed his satisfaction and gratitude with the work I undertook and the manner in which we worked together to achieve a common goal. My strong communication, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills were instrumental in facilitating this result.

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Annie Cerone