Learning how to be an effective communicator in the workplace is one of the most important skills that you can develop throughout your career. Being able to express your ideas clearly and respectfully will pay off huge dividends.
Not only will you find it easier to develop relationships with your coworkers, but in the event that conflict arises, communicating effectively will keep conflicts from getting out of hand.
In this article, we review nine tips on how to be an effective communicator in the workplace. Take a read below to see if there are any you can put into practice in your job.
1) Talk Face To Face
Today, so much of your communication happens either over the phone or over the computer. The rise of technologies, such as Slack, has exacerbated this phenomenon.
Take a moment to think about how many of your daily communications take place online. It is probably a pretty sizable portion, right?
While the ease of using instant messaging platforms or even phone calls is undeniable, there is no true substitute for face to face communication.
When talking in person, you can express yourself using silent physical cues. Furthermore, you can read your colleague’s physical reactions to your words in addition to hearing their words.
These small details can make all the difference when learning to be an effective communicator in the workplace.
Or, how often do you try to make a sarcastic remark in a text message or email, only to find that the subtleness of a sarcastic joke is lost in that form of communication?
With continued advancements in technology and as businesses proceed to expand geographically, communication over the phone or online will only increase. Take every opportunity you can to have face to face conversations when possible.
2) Focus On Your Nonverbal Cues
While the importance of face to face communication was just discussed, it is not enough for you to just talk to someone in person. If you can master your physical and nonverbal communication, you will see yourself make great strides in your abilities as a communicator.
This is crucial both when talking and when listening.
When you are speaking, you can use nonverbal cues to emphasize points that you find important or to generate interest. The latter being especially important if you think your colleague is no longer paying attention to you.
Making small gestures with your body can increase the effectiveness of your communication.
Furthermore, when you are listening, make sure to be an active listener. Don’t just stare between your colleague’s eyes and hope that you will understand what they say.
Listen and nod along when you agree and open your body to them to seem more inviting. Combining all of these nonverbal cues will make you a much more compelling communicator.
3) Ask Smart Questions
Sure, there is the saying that there are no stupid questions, but let’s be honest—some questions are better than others.
When you are talking with a coworker, make sure to stop and ask questions for points that you would like to have clarified. This will tell your coworker that you are actively listening to what he or she has to say.
Having said that, don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking questions. If you do that, you could risk derailing the conversation and making the conversation less productive.
A good rule of thumb for this tip is this: Any time you think “what does he mean by that” or “is she sure that’s true” or “I want to know more about that,” you should stop and ask a question.
Questions along these lines will make your conversations more productive and more engaging. These types of questions will also help you become an effective communicator in the workplace.
4) Stay Positive
Try to maintain a positive tone when you are talking with your colleagues. No matter what you are saying, your message will be better received if you sound positive and upbeat.
Additionally, avoid focusing on the negatives or trying to sound too confrontational. This is particularly important when you are giving feedback to some of your colleagues.
It is helpful to phrase your comments as constructive criticism rather than critiques in bad faith. Paying attention to how you spin your messages will make your colleagues mirror your positivity.
This will result in conversations that, simply put, make you feel better after they are over.
After all, you and your coworkers are all on the same team. Promoting positive conversations is one way to become an effective communicator in the workplace.
Negative conversations will only leave you and your coworkers angry, frustrated, and usually with a lack of motivation to perform your job to the best of your ability.
5) Provide Clarity
Along with being positive, also make sure that you are being clear when you are talking or corresponding with a coworker.
When you are talking in person, you can observe their nonverbal cues to figure out whether or not you are making sense. One easy tip is to notice if they look physically lost or confused while you are speaking.
If they do, it would be a good time for you to confirm their understanding and see if they have any questions.
For conversations that don’t occur in person, be sure you are keeping your communications short and to the point. If you are drafting an email that will be sent out to colleagues, be sure to reread your writing and perform a quick spellcheck.
Furthermore, if you are trying to discuss several different topics in one email, consider breaking it up into multiple emails over a few days. This will help you eliminate any ambiguity or unclearness in your email.
Furthermore, take your time when creating written communications. If you are writing an email, be sure to consider how it will be received. Will it help the recipient or will it cause more confusion?
The end goal is to have all communication be clear, concise and ultimately effective. Keep this in mind for all verbal and nonverbal communications in the workplace.
6) Know How To Critique Others
Providing criticism to your coworkers or subordinates can be a difficult task to perform. Everyone takes criticism differently, so it is important you understand how each individual will react and what method will be the received the best to build their trust.
Some individuals might respond positively to your criticism. They become motivated to make changes and prove you wrong.
On the other hand, others respond poorly to this strategy and will find it demotivating and demoralizing. Of course, no one wants to be told that they are not performing well enough.
Knowing how to best frame the message so that your coworker will respond positively to your critiques is a fundamental part of being an effective communicator in the workplace.
7) Understand Communication Styles
This tip is closely related to the previous one. More broadly, rather than talking about how to offer constructive criticism to your colleagues, you can also think more generally about different communication styles.
It is particularly crucial when you are looking for different ways to frame a message.
Some people will respond to emotional appeals, to a message that motivates them to want to work hard.
Others need a more level-headed logical approach. For these types of workers, it is more important for you to convey to them why they were asked to do something.
To be a stellar communicator in your workplace, it is important to know the difference in how people best respond to your suggestions. What works best for one person might get the opposite result for another.
8) Don’t Bring Up Controversial Topics
Typically, this point falls in the common sense category.
If you want to be seen as an effective communicator, don’t go out of your way to bring up topics that you know will cause a stir amongst your coworkers.
Two of the most popular topics that are considered controversial to talk about are, of course, politics and religion. So it is best to discuss these topics outside of work and amongst close friends and family.
However, if you have a coworker who is a fan of a rival sports team or you know some of their pet peeves, do not go out of your way to bring up these topics. If someone else brings them up, find a way to naturally steer the conversation onto more neutral topics.
9) Be Nice
This certainly sounds obvious, why wouldn’t you be nice when you are communicating in the workplace?
However, these two words sum up the main thrust of this article.
If you want your coworkers to respond to you and see you as an effective communicator, don’t talk in a way that makes them feel bad about themselves. Furthermore, don’t make them feel as though they are being judged.
Rather, make it your goal to have all of your coworkers feeling valued, respected, and happy after communicating with you.
Instilling these feelings into your colleagues is more important than any of the other suggestions on this list. If you can help inspire them to feel empowered, your colleagues will recognize you as an effective communicator in the workplace.
As a result, they will be more receptive to listening to you in the future.
In summary, if you are an active listener, respond to your coworkers’ body language, speak to them in a respectful way, and steer clear of controversial issues, you will become a more effective communicator in the workplace.
The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?
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