- Best Tips For Improved Communication In The Workplace
Communication is essential for all aspects of life, but especially at work. For most jobs, “good communication skills” are considered an essential skill that is needed to be able to perform effectively in the role. Communication is considered to be an exchange of information, which can be achieved through talking, the written word or another medium, and it can include the imparting of information. Importantly communication is not just the words that you impart. It also includes non-verbal indicators, the tone of voice, the intention of what is being said and what is not being said. Communication increases understanding, facilitates relationships and helps everything run more smoothly at work. Yet, communication can be challenging at work, and it is also often a major complaint that employees have about their workplace and/or managers: “Communication is terrible”, they say. With this in mind, here are some top tips for improved communication in the workplace. With these tips up your sleeve, you’ll be able to get things done and make a difference.
1. Listening, and Especially Active Listening
The important part of communication that many people forget all too easily, is that it is a two-way street. Listening, and in particular, active listening, are critical to a good communication process. No one wants to be in a conversation where the communication is one-way only. Listening helps to promote understanding, to better comprehend the situation, and to work collaboratively to find solutions to problems. Active listening involves really making an effort to understand, through asking questions, and paraphrasing back to the person who was communicating the message – this helps to confirm understanding. This allows for better responses to communicated messages, and better relationships too – as it shows you are taking the time to properly understand what is being communicated.
A key factor in being a good communicator is providing clarity to others. This means that you need to consider your audience and their capability of understanding your message when you are thinking about delivering it. The message may need to be adjusted so that it can be better understood by those it is meant for. The use of jargon typically works against clear communication, as not everyone will understand it. The choice of words and phrases is important in making sure that the message is understandable to others. Consider these points, and you will find you have better communication.
3. Consider what your body says
Communication is not just in what is said. It is also in non-verbal cues, meaning what your body is doing and saying at the same time that you are imparting your message. A slouched body represents disinterest. Therefore if you are saying something and you want to show interest, it is better not to slouch, as you will be imparting a mixed message. Equally, crossed arms and legs indicate defensiveness and a lack of openness. Meanwhile, making eye contact is a good way to gain trust when you are communicating. It is well worth considering how body language might be sabotaging your messages, and improving in this area.
4. Demonstrating Empathy
You won’t always agree with everyone all the time – that is a given with communication. But what you can do, to help in communicating a difficult message, is to show empathy – that is demonstrating that you really understand where the other person is coming from, and you know why they feel that way. Though you may not concur with them, showing empathy helps with building respect and rapport in communications with others.
5. The devil is in the detail
There are many aspects of communication that can help improve how a message is imparted and received, and considering these small details can be very helpful in achieving effective communication. For example, telling an individual they are going to be fired in front of a group of others is inappropriate – rather, drawing that person aside and talking with them individually is better – it will increase respect both from the individual and the team. While this is an extreme example, it makes an important point. Communicating bad news last thing on a Friday to a team is convenient for you, but will lose respect and support for doing so. Timings and the medium of communication must be considered for it to be effective.
Adopt these communication tips in your working life, and you’ll find you build better rapport and relationships with others, facilitating a better working environment.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.