Communication is a skill we put in use every single day of our life. While it is important across all areas of life, it’s a key skill to hone at the workplace. Effective communication is a 2 way street – what we say and how the receiver, receives the message… You may be surprised to learn that 86% of people at a workplace struggle with the idea of having a conversation with someone else. So, how can you build your communication skills in the workplace?
Let’s understand the importance of effective communication at the workplace, what are the barriers to effective communication, the benefits of effective communication in the workplace, and how it can be done:
Stay in the know over coffee or water cooler conversations.
The know over coffee or water cooler conversations is one of the simplest, most effective ways to improve communication in the workplace. It is one way of prioritizing face-to-face communication. Coffee or water-cooler conversations tend to build rapport, making difficult conversations easier and less daunting to have.
For example, if an employee overseas usually communicates through email, try setting up a video conference every now and then, instead— seeing others’ facial expressions builds trust and makes understanding what each person is saying more effective. It also, allows space for clarification and casual Q&A’s. In fact, a good place to begin is taking the initiative to setup 1:1 calls with your team every week, if you still find yourself working remotely. Also, consider setting aside some time each day with your team to have lunch or after work hours to talk about their projects—it’s a great way for coworkers across departments to learn about one another’s responsibilities and priorities.
Angry? It’s time to pause.
Passive, aggressive or assertive? What defines your behaviour? Well, if it’s aggressive, let me tell you anger can cause people to become defensive or belligerent— it’s one of the most ineffective way of communicating in the workplace. So the most effective way of communicating when you are upset or angry is to NOT communicate, to PAUSE. If can’t positively add to a situation, then it’s best not to. If something has made you mad, take some time to cool down before addressing it. This is because being angry, mad or upset makes us less able to listen. So, the next time you find yourself in such a situation, do not forget to pause. Sometimes no communication is the most effective way to communicate.
Fun fact: Good news a day, keep gossip away.
Yes, good news travels fast, and gossip travels faster. Remember, not all the stories are true. Gossip can be divisive and hurtful, damaging to team morale and reputation, and shows unprofessionalism. The easiest way to avoid the gossip mill is by simply not participating in it. This way, you will break the chain of gossip by not letting it spread and also protect yourself from the unwanted buzz. Positive attitude is discovered to be one of the top two characteristics of a great team member. The first thing people see of you is your attitude, first impression is a lasting one. A positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. So be the magnet that attracts positivity and good news!
Not a fun fact: Nobody likes breakdowns in communication.
Breakdowns in communication are common in the workplace. When such situations occur, it’s important to be transparent and honest about what you understood, where you need clarification and vice-versa. .
To be an effective communicator, ask yourself the following questions: What can you do to communicate effectively? How can you reduce misunderstandings?
Use this experience as an opportunity to grow.
Listening is not just important, it’s critical.
Listening is an art form and a skill that is simple to implement, though hard to execute. It is important to be present and focused when listening so that you can truly practice listening. You can do so by doing one thing at a time and giving the speaker your undivided attention, rather than multi-tasking.
This will help you respond more accurately and it will help you to understand and interpret the speaker’s intent, body language, and emotions.
The bottom line is simple: effective communication saves time, energy, and resources. If you focus on improving communication by learning best practices on your own, you wil thank yourselfl. It might seem like a drag right now, but let’s face it: communication is extremely important to be left to chance.