A workplace that lacks effective communication is like a row boat spinning in circles because each rower is paddling out of sync. There needs to be someone setting expectations so that each rower understands his/her responsibility in ensuring that the boat reaches its destination. However, communication in the workplace is not as easy as barking paddling commands. It requires tact and consideration, which is why we have compiled a list of helpful tips. Here are some of the best strategies for improving communication in the workplace...
Every message you deliver in the office should be driven by a strong sense of purpose. Having a purpose in mind for a specific exchange will help you clearly communicate that intention to your peers. As a result, your peers will have a better idea of what is expected of them and how to accomplish it.
This is a Shakespearean saying from Hamlet that basically means keep things short and sweet. The average worker sends and receives upwards of 120 emails per day. This means that people have a finite amount of time to read or listen to a given message. If the message is not communicated quickly and succinctly, it will get lost.
We all know people who have the “gift of gab”–– individuals with an uncanny ability to spin a mundane story into an epic narrative that has you hanging onto the edge of your seat. This is a remarkable trait to have as long as you are able to keep truth at the forefront of every story. If an audience feels like they are being duped or lied to, they will discount everything the speaker says. Thus, as a speaker, maintaining your credibility is crucial.
No matter how sound your message is, it will not be received well if it is delivered at the wrong time or place. Before discussing a sensitive topic, consider the effects of the setting, the number of people involved in the conversation, and the time of which you deliver the message. All of these factors contribute to a person’s likelihood of receiving a given message.
Additionally, highly emotional topics should be dealt with in person if at all possible. Face-to-face messages are less likely to be misinterpreted than virtual messages, leaving less room for error.
Productive communication requires more than just talking. For an exchange to be mutually beneficial, both parties need to feel heard and understood– neither of which can occur if you are unwilling to listen. Try displaying body language that conveys your attentiveness, summarizing what the other person has said, and asking for clarification when needed.
Imagine you decide to craft a heartfelt letter for a dear relative. You spend hours planning your thoughts, writing careful cursive, packaging it in a crisp envelope, and dropping it in the mailbox. Then, the next day the mailman retrieves the envelope, crumples it up, and throws it away. The message was there, but the delivery was all wrong, thus, your relative never got the message. This is a good analogy for body language. Even the most thoughtful message needs appropriate body language to carry it across the finish line. When communicating, make sure you are maintaining eye contact, good posture, and a smile.
Glenn Bill, America’s #1 keynote speaker regarding attitude, says body language is even powerful enough to mitigate the harsh effects of criticism. In other words, an employer who delivers negative feedback with a smile is more likely to get a positive response from employees. It may seem counterintuitive to deliver bad news with a smile, but the positive energy produced by a smile creates a more comfortable environment for everyone.
Have you ever sent an email consisting of eight different questions, only to get a response that addresses one of those questions? The answer is probably yes. Because this gap in the communication chain is both frustrating and time-consuming, make sure that you are always sending complete information to the best of your ability the first time around. This will eradicate the need for doubling back, resending information, and exerting unnecessary energy.
Studies show that people are more likely to hold onto negative feedback than positive feedback. Thus, it is important to try to offset negative feedback with as much positive reinforcement as possible. That way, people feel empowered to do better rather than discouraged over their wrongdoing.
While the aforementioned strategies can help you dramatically improve your interpersonal relationships with coworkers, it is important to recognize that efficient communication is not an exact science. Because you cannot control how another person will perceive your message, there will inevitably be missteps in communication at one point or another. The differentiator between a good workplace and a great workplace is how they handle miscommunications and how they work to avoid that misstep in the future.
Also read: How Positive Self-Talk Can Change Your Life