We communicate in every aspect of our life. The goal of communication is to understand and be understood. However, that goal can often go unmet in the workplace and the repercussions of miscommunication can be very serious. Poor productivity, unmotivated employees—even lawsuits—can result from communication breakdowns at the office.
Below are five tips that can help improve communication in your workplace.
1. Become an Active Listener. When communicating with others, we often focus on what we should say. However, effective communication is less about talking and more about listening. A few tips to show someone you are listening include:
a. Put yourself in the present moment
b. Put away all devices with notifications
c. Give your mind a rest from what your immediate response will be
d. Focus 100% on what the person is saying
e. Imagine that you will have to give a report back to an additional person on the information so that you stay focused
2. Get to Know Your Colleagues. We are all unique individuals who grew up with different parents, in different neighborhoods, had different educations, relationships, and even different work experiences which have shaped who we are and how we communicate. Once you spend time getting to know your work colleagues and employees, you may be better able to glean their communication style and how they prefer to be communicated with.
3. Take Responsibility for Your Emails. Most companies prefer to communicate with external clients and internal employees via email. With that said, although we tend to use email as a major mode of communication, we don’t always take the proper time to review and edit our emails before sending them. Here are a few tricks: Imagine you are writing all of your emails directly on company letterhead. Review and revamp your emails and consider the objective of your email when you are creating it. Be considerate of the recipient(s) and consider your audience. Someone who receives several hundred emails a day will want brief and concise in the communication while a friend or family member may want lengthy details.
4. Be Aware of Your Body Language. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person reveals more about how you’re feeling than words can. Nonverbal communication, or body language, includes facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, the tone of your voice, and even your muscle tension and breathing. Developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help in connecting with others, express what you mean, and build stronger relationships.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice. The skill of communication is a continual learning process. The most helpful tool is having the desire to improve your communication skills. Once you have identified an area to improve, then search out a mentor, join a Toastmasters or other public speaking class, or observe professional speakers online.
By implementing these five tips, you are headed on the path to more effective communication in the workplace!