7 Tips for Sharpening Your Communication Skills
In 2015, the way we communicate has virtually no boundaries, especially in the business world. Employees in today’s workforce can make sales, troubleshoot, advise, and conduct nearly any business transaction from any place—to anywhere in the world. According to this infographic, 97 percent of surveyed employees believe communications impact daily tasks, and 95% plan to use business communication tools—computers, smartphones, desktop phones, and tablets—over in-person meetings. With a variety of communication channels at our disposal, there is still a possibility for disconnect between people.
George Bernard Shaw once said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Lack of communication in the workplace causes problems such as frustration, misunderstandings, and poor performance, which usually results in employee turnover. Most work-related problems can be traced back to a breakdown in communication.
How effective managers communicate with employees and how employees communicate with each other is a crucial part of a productive work environment to understand. Just like typing, writing, time management, organization, etc., communication is a skill that must be learned and practiced. So, what can you do to improve your communication skills in the workplace?
- Be clear and concise
Take time to organize your thoughts and make your deliverables as concise and clear as possible. Your manager and your coworkers do not want to sift through a bunch of words to uncover what it is you are really talking about, or what it is that you want them to do.
- Don’t forget about digital etiquette
Emails and text messages are notorious platforms for communication mishaps. When creating an email, read over it a few times to make sure the tone is professional, there are no grammatical or spelling errors, and don’t forget the first tip—that your message should be clear and concise. If your request is time-sensitive or there is an issue at hand, schedule a follow-up phone meeting to make sure your message is received as you intended. Never, respond to an email or text message if you are displeased or upset, it is very unprofessional and can come back to bite you, especially if it is in response to a message received. It is important to remember that not everyone has mastered or is aware of digital etiquette.
- Be aware of your body language
Be aware of the message you are giving with your body language. Body language includes facial expressions, posture, eye movement, and your position in relation to the person with whom you are speaking with.
- Observe others
Observe how individuals interact with one another. Every company, or department, has its own workplace culture—their way of doing things. This doesn’t mean that your way is wrong necessarily; try and observe how they interact, then figure out how to bring in your own interpersonal style.
- Don’t Overreact
Being put on the spot is always an uncomfortable situation, so take your time to carefully consider your response. It is okay to say “Let me think about that and I will get back with you.” Once you have thought out your response, you will be able to communicate more effectively.
A vital part of effective communication is listening. Remember, hearing and listening are two very different things. Too many times, we get caught up in trying to get our point across that we hear what the other person is saying but we don’t listen to what they are saying. Make sure you listen to your manager and coworkers, not just hear them.
- Be personal
Communication doesn’t have to be cold and matter-of-fact. Get to know the people you work with and let them know that you care about them as individuals. Don’t alienate yourself in your office or keep your head down at your desk. Make communicating with other employees a part of your daily routine; then when you do have to discuss an important or touchy subject it won’t be as difficult or awkward.
Effective communication is essential for aproductive work environment. So, the next time you communicate with your boss or a coworker, remember to be clear, concise, aware of your body language, be careful not to overreact, actively listen, and be personable.
What communication barriers have you encountered at work? Let us know if you have any additional workplace communication tips, in the comments section below.