Have you heard? Effective communication is key for success in the workplace! Communication is far more than just being able to chat your co-worker’s ear off in the break room or telling your boss you need a certain day off next week. It is a skill that we can all stand to improve upon, and what better time to focus on advancing our abilities than right now?
Be it at work, or with your friends and family, communication is vital. It enhances our relationships, can deflect confrontation, and can put us all on the same playing field when utilized effectively. When executed poorly, communication can have the opposite effect. It can destroy relationships, initiate conflict, and feed uncertainty.
In the workplace, we communicate constantly—whether it is which projects need the most attention, the company’s sales/profit goals, the new direction your marketing team is taking, etc. Communication could be in the form of an email requesting status updates, scheduling a video conference call for a leadership meeting, or a face-to-face discussion with a new hire regarding their performance.
How well do you communicate at work? Do coworkers or supervisors always receive your messages and understand quickly and easily? Can you identify one example of a time when you know you communicated poorly? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Acknowledging and learning from our mistakes is important to our professional growth and advancement. If the answer is “Yes” to the latter, take a few minutes to review the following ways to improve your communication in the workplace.
Writing Emails: Watch Your Tone
Remember the old golden rule?
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
You’ve heard your mom rattle it off a hundred times. Little did you know it has as much impact in the workplace as it did between you and your squabbling siblings.
The best way to communicate via email is to think of how you would interpret what is being conveyed. It can be very difficult to decipher tone through text communications, so be sure you are careful with your words, phrasing, and punctuation.
Have you ever seen an email that had this similar message in the body?
“COMMUNICATE NEW PLAN WITH TEAM ASAP!!!!!!” You think, “Is he yelling at me?” Well, let’s hope not, but the use of ALL CAPS is generally determined as an “angry” or “negative” tone. If you were the sender, your intention may have been to share your excitement or enthusiasm, or maybe you were multi-tasking when quickly sending the email since you were running late to another meeting. No one will ever know, and that’s the point. You don’t want to create a perception around the communications you are sending out.
Also, keep in mind how you would feel if you received the email you are drafting. Are you being clear? Are you providing enough information for the recipient to understand the question/request at hand? Are you maintaining a pleasant and professional tone?
Try to keep the email short and to the point. Use a warm greeting and closing and get to the point quickly.
Misunderstandings Can Happen
Don’t let them linger!
If you or your coworkers are feeling a disconnect, be sure to resolve it quickly and effectively. Effective communication can help identify where things went wrong. Allowing misunderstandings to go unaddressed will only lead to further issues and potential conflicts.
Don’t be afraid to ask where the message went downhill. Perhaps there was unclear wording that led the recipient to feel attacked or incompetent.
The more detail you can obtain, the easier it will be for you to prevent a similar communication disaster in the future.
9am-5pm is Not for Everyone
Remember that your schedule may not always be the same as others.
If you are working to complete your portion of a project and need assistance or a second pair of eyes, be sure you are asking to meet at a time that respects both of your schedules.
Again I say, treat others as you would like to be treated.
Do not be impatient and say “I need approval on this immediately” and hit the “Send” button. Every employee has their own schedule to adhere to. Each employee has their own list of priorities and tasks they need accomplished to meet specific deadlines. Do not constantly push their time with your agenda—they are busy too!
Stop the Gossip!
Inter-office gossip is NOT effective communication (or productive or professional for that matter).
Does it allow you to bond with certain employees? Perhaps. But at what cost? Is that a healthy bond to form?
Gossiping behind your coworker’s back creates a division between you and that individual, whether you realize it or not.
Not all employees are going to get along with one another, but airing your displeasure with others only builds negativity and shows poor character on your part.
Not to mention, the time spent gossiping should be better spent working on that project your boss has been asking you for all week! Gossip and productivity simply do not go hand-in-hand.
These items are just the tip of the iceberg. Learn you can utilize effective communication with your coworkers or employees by asking questions, actively listening, and putting yourself in their shoes. Use these simple ideas to help you avoid communication disasters and build stronger bonds between yourself and your coworkers.
Check out these additional tips to better understand the 4 different communication styles and how to more effectively interact with your coworkers.