We all like to think of communication as something easy to do and manage. After all, as part of society, we communicate with almost everybody we meet, including our friends, family, co-workers, and employers.
Nevertheless, effective workplace communication is not the same thing as talking with friends or family. It is a skill that requires some degree of finesse in choosing the right words, getting our points across, and, of course, properly listening to others.
Miscommunication, errors, a lack of motivation, reduced productivity, and even lawsuits can all be the result of poor communication skills. Below are several tips on how to improve your workplace communication skills.
Whenever you are talking business-related topics or passing information to co-workers, always make sure that you communicate it as clearly and as accurately as possible. Take a moment to plan what you want to say, so when you tell it, you won’t leave something out and that everything is correct. Try to avoid writing emails in haste and always plan the information to avoid confusion or miscommunication.
For several years now, companies seem to have been steadily phasing out face-to-face communication. It can be seen almost everywhere in the office, in both vertical and horizontal interactions. Even co-workers sitting at adjacent desks or in the next cubicle prefer to send an email or a text message, rather than to talk directly.
But as we all know; written words lack many of the nuances that face-to-face communication has. Since most of the meaning behind a message comes from voice inflections and body language, it is relatively easy for the reader or listener to misunderstand the purpose and intention of the email you’ve sent. When you have something particularly important to say; consider doing it face-to-face or over the phone instead of email or digital messaging.
Listening instead of Hearing
Effective communication is a two-way interaction and not a monologue. It makes listening an integral part of that exchange. Many people do not possess this skill and only listen for long enough so that they have a chance to bring forward a counterargument. Likewise, if you are thinking about other matters while another person is talking to you, it also means that you are not paying attention.
The best way to teach yourself how to listen correctly, paraphrase what was said. You will show others that you were paying attention, you have a better understanding of what was said, and you will verify the accuracy of the information, in the process. You can also create a mental checklist of all the critical points the other person makes.
Probably the best way to show others that you were paying attention to what they were saying is if you ask them follow-up questions. Not only that but by asking questions you can also gather any extra information that you might need. Nevertheless, don’t ask questions just for the sake of it, or try to change the subject to an entirely different and unrelated topic. That’s not professional.
With a little practice and a willingness to succeed, everyone can learn how to communicate in the workplace effectively. If you have a preferred communication style, be it email, over the phone, or in person, try to steer your company in adopting it as standard, or, at least, to make it more common in your place of work.