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Communication is one of the essentials that can make or break a workplace. While poor communication can deflate morale, and create contention and dissention, effective communication can do the opposite. Effective communication builds morale, builds unity, increases productivity and builds success.
When we communicate clearly, our businesses operate more successfully, and our teams work more cohesively. While some companies have better communication than others, we all have room for improvement. Whether you’re one of the fortunate ones leading or working at a company that has great communication in place, or whether you wish you were, here are seven keys for communicating better in the workplace. They can help any company become a place with great communication.
1. Be Mindful of Communication Styles.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make in communicating is assuming others think like we do. Whether they have different core values, come from a different culture, or simply have different life experiences or a different personality type, we need to take time to consider who we are communicating with, and adjust our communication accordingly. If you work in a diverse office, this can be a challenge. One way to help everyone in your workplace communicate better, may be to use an exercise or assessment like the Enneagram, which helps to identify personality types.
2. Take the time to LISTEN to what others are saying BEFORE you formulate your response.
Often, especially in the business world, in our haste to get things done, we spend more of a conversation formulating a response than actually listening to what someone is saying to us. It takes some practice, but training yourself to fully listen to others BEFORE formulating a response can go a long way toward eliminating miscommunications and conflicts. By listening fully, we are better able to understand what someone is saying—and sometimes, what they are not saying, that needs addressing. It’s ok to have a few seconds of silence to consider your response, especially in a high-stakes conversation.
3. Use your pause button.
Sometimes it’s important not to react immediately to a comment or question. Sometimes you need to hit your internal pause button. Author Stephen R. Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about how, instead of reacting in a situation, we need to press our pause button, and consider what we really want to do—or in this case, say. Responding thoughtfully, instead of reacting out of emotion, can make a big difference in your communication.
4. Give clear explanations. Don’t make assumptions. Document meetings and conversations about projects.
When giving direction to your team, be clear in your expectations. Instead of assuming they know what you’re talking about, assume they don’t, and give clear direction with all the information they need to be successful. Following a meeting, whether it’s one-on-one or the whole staff, follow up with a written summary of decisions and assignments made, and actions to be taken. This will avoid misunderstandings and conflict down the line.
5. Be proactive. Don’t allow the grapevine or the water cooler to serve as the main conduit for important company announcements.
Do you have important news that will affect your team or your company? Call a meeting and make the announcement sooner rather than later. When important company announcements, whether positive or negative, are disseminated via the gossip chain instead of from upper management, morale suffers and employees can become nervous and begin looking for other opportunities.
6. Offer detailed feedback.
When giving a co-worker or other staff member feedback, be specific. Just telling them they did a “great job” is nice, but not particularly useful in helping employees grow and develop. Let them know what they did well or didn’t do well (tactfully, of course). And allow them to ask questions and seek additional feedback. This not only helps them grow, but also validates them and lets them know their contributions are important to you.
7. Consider your impact.
Before speaking, especially if you are in a leadership position, consider the effect your words will have on your team. This is especially important in times of stress. Remember that overtime and overwork often lead to exhaustion and communication missteps. The words you say, the way you say them (attitude and tone), and even your body language contributes to the effectiveness of your communication. You have the power to build up your team or tear them down. Which would you rather do?
Developing an effective communication style, both individually and within your entire workplace can make a difference in the success of your business. It can also make a difference in the success of your team, improving morale, improving productivity, and encouraging strong workplace relationships. If you would like help or assistance in communicating better in your workplace, message us here, or leave a comment below. We offer communication consulting and workshops, which can be customized for your company needs.