Communication. The key to connect. It is also the fundamental essence of a healthy environment. Without communication, the world will be a hub of missed opportunities, low morale, mistrust, and conflicts. Communication, especially in workplaces, is why we can witness a progressive world today. This blog is here to teach you how to build your workplace communication skills.
It's easy to say communication is essential. On the surface, the skill looks relatively easy. What do you need to do? Just talk. Easy peasy. But, workplace communication requires more careful analysis. What you say and how you say it can have repercussions you may not be ready for. This is why it's necessary to challenge your communication skills.
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An effective communication process means understanding what to say at the right moment. It can be a transformative skill to push professional potential. We are here to show you the following:
-why workplace communication skills are important
-how to improve your workplace communication skills
-Common workplace communication mistakes you may have been making
Let's begin learning!
The importance of communication
Good communication = stronger work relationships
Workplaces that exercise good communication see faster results. This means employees have the information they need. Hence, they feel far less lost and can perform well in their respective fields. Moreover, effective communication can build positivity and eliminate inefficiency among workers. The goal of workplace communication is to:
Convey accurate information without leaving any scope for misinterpretation.
Maintaining or improving employer relationships.
How can miscommunication affect your business?
Miscommunication has extreme consequences if not handled properly. A survey by Expert Market revealed that 28% of the employees faced poor communication. Due to this, they couldn't finish the projects on time. According to David Grossman in his study “The Cost of Poor Communication”, miscommunication costs businesses at least $450,000 annually on average.
How to improve workplace communication?
Workplace communication is a collaborative process. But, the effort to improve begins on an individual level. This is why we have assembled 4 critical ways to improve workplace communication. Let's check the workplace communication tips.
1. Individual communication skills over collaborative improvement
Communication skills improve with individual practise Improved workplace communication begins with the steps to enhance individual communication skills. Here are a few things every individual should keep in mind while interacting:
#1. Move away from the traditional culture of communication. Old organisational ways generally believe in hierarchical rules of communication. This made employees of lower ranks feel intimidated. The modern approach includes less fear and more embracing. Participating in free junior-senior conversations can boost confidence and overall positive work contribution.
#2. Learn to read nonverbal cues. Not all workplace communications happen only through words. Sometimes, it's better to read the tone and body language to understand the person in front of you. The same goes for the speaker. A wrong body posture can deliver the wrong sentiment to the listener. Be attentive to your tone and body language when you speak with someone.
Pro tip: If you can't understand a person through emails or texts, ask for a video meeting or a meeting in person.
#3. Listen to what the other person has to say. Practice listening skills. In workplace communications, you must listen as much as you speak. Internalise what you hear and pay attention to the emotion with which the person is saying.
#4. Provide constructive feedback to your coworkers. Being a part of a work culture means maintaining a boundary of respect. Giving feedback is a part of the work culture. This is also where you face the most significant tests of workplace communication. To provide feedback, you must balance what's good and where to improve.
#5. Actively participate in meetings. Whenever possible, be a part of meetings. Meetings are a great way to exercise workplace communication. They can build you up as an internal part of the team.
Moreover, meetings can be an excellent way to break the ice. You can discuss matters, brainstorm together, and contribute to the organisation. Asking relevant questions in the meeting will further enhance your knowledge.
2. Work via various methods of communication.
Not every issue needs an address in a dramatic sense. If you face an issue in your workplace, you must communicate it well. Analyse the case based on the following:
How important is it?
How urgent is it?
How complex is it?
Who should you talk to?
Where does the core problem lie?
Based on these questions, you can decide how you want to convey it and to whom.
The "how" part of this aspect is the most important. Understanding how means knowing where you want to confront the issue. Is it through chat, email, video meetings, or a face-to-face conversation? For instance, an employee doesn't understand how to use a tool. Arranging a face-to-face meeting to explain how the said tool works is advisable. On the other hand, if it's to address an issue related to an upcoming event, you can mail the details to the workers.
In some cases, you may need to reach out to the manager. For instance, communicating technological updates, new investments, and other organisational changes. The best way to keep track of these developments is through a platform like slack. Add employees on the platform and know/inform every update to whoever you want. Get to know more communication platforms for workplaces through the image below:
3. Holding efficient meetings.
As we mentioned above, meetings are a loud boost for workplace communication. Here are the best ways to hold effective meetings for better communication:
1. Set a goal for each meeting. And ensure that your goals aren't reused over and over again.
2. Send the materials you want to discuss in the meeting ahead to the team workers. This will give people a chance to go through the materials and review them.
3. Invite only those who are necessary for the meeting. Adding employees who aren't needed is unproductive and a waste of time.
4. Decide what kind of meeting will work. Video conference or face-to-face meetings.
5. Make sure all technical equipment is ready and functioning. Check the technicalities beforehand to ensure a smooth meeting.
6. Start and end meetings on time. Respecting other people's time is also a part of healthy communication. In other words, know when to stop talking. Avoid delaying other people's work.
7. Keep everyone revised. Share the details of what was discussed with the team members after the meeting.
4. Nourish an open culture.
An open culture does not bind the employees to a strict set of rules. The reason is that a tighter leash prohibits free communication. Gone are the days when employees could only say "okay, Sir/Ma'am" to their seniors. The new generation demands more fruitful conversations and free brainstorming.
Creating open workplace communication means:
-Allowing comfortable voicing concerns
-Allowing asking questions regardless of professional hierarchy
Contributing every little and big idea relevant to the company's growth
How can you nourish an open environment at work?
1. For starters, hold a weekly or monthly informal activity. It will help employees open up beyond strictly-professional grounds.
2. Allow a relaxing atmosphere for employers to learn more and feel less intimidated.
3. Avoid creating a tense environment resulting from threats or "punishments".
4. Create a supportive environment in which human lives are treated with empathy.
5. Involve workers in a friendly environment and make them feel less isolated.
6. Accept and encourage diversity. Build a more inclusive workspace for employees. Workers should feel comfortable enough to be themselves.
Communication Mistakes in the Workplace
Workplace communication is an acquired skill. It's something we learn on the way. This is why it's okay that you have made mistakes in this arena. What matters is that you want to improve your communication skills now. The first step to improving is to acknowledge the mistakes you may have made. Below are the topmost workplace communication mistakes most of us make:
1. No follow-ups
You send a task to an employee. You simply assume that they have received it and don't inquire thereafter. You even consider that the task has been completed.
The end result: When you finally need the file, you realise it's still pending. At the eleventh hour, you try to get that work done. You feel frustrated and nervous. You may even start yelling at the employee, considering the urgency of the matter.
How to cope better: ALWAYS ask for a follow-up. Mail the employee or call them if needed but at the end, make sure that the task you handed out is underway. Never check it off from your list until you are 100% sure.
2. Miscommunication of the result
People lack workplace communication skills when addressing the "why" of a task. In most cases, task-givers simply skip this step. When most senior-level employees hand over a task, they don't do it with full clarification. They mention what task is needed but not why it is required. For effective communication, let your coworkers know what the task can accomplish.
The end result: The employee may not handle the task with as much seriousness as they should. Moreover, not knowing the purpose of the task means they can't aim at the exact goal. Their research and data analysis will have a track without a destination.
How to cope better: Understanding the goal of the task gives a sense of responsibility. Share with your coworkers how the task fits in the company's short-term and long-term plans. Explain how their actions can impact the company's performance. Let them know how their performance in the task can develop their career.
3. Assuming Less, Ask More
Effective communication also means understanding what the person is saying. Hence, forbid your mind from assuming what a coworker feels or wants to say. One of the most toxic traits in any work culture is assuming the thoughts of an employee or employer. Making quick assumptions creates a larger space for misdirected workplace communication.
The end result: When you assume more, you travel farther from the truth. It's not right to think that your assumptions are 100% true. In fact, in most cases, it may lead to severe repercussions. For instance, you may assume an employee's reason for not performing well. Your assumptive reasons are far different from reality. As a result, confronting those assumptions can make the employee feel worse than good. The feeling of being misunderstood cultivates a lack of credibility in the relationship.
How to cope better: If you want to get better at this, it's simple. Don't assume. Maintain clarity by asking the employee upfront. Don't keep any personal judgements or assumptions. Instead, listen first and then make an informed decision.
4. Avoid using a negative tone.
There's a famous anonymous saying that reads:
"10% of conflicts are due to differences of opinion. 90% are due to the wrong tone of voice".
The tone is a natural presentation of what you want to say. It dictates the nature of communication. Hence, workplace communication depends mainly on the tone of your voice. Most employees look for the right words but forget to note the tone.
The end result: You may come off as someone cold and unfriendly. What you intend to sound confident may seem arrogant if not reflected correctly.
How to cope better: Be careful while choosing the tone, the phrases, and the words to convey your message. The same tone can be constructive in written communication too. Create more effective chat messages and emails with the proper use of tone.
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