Effective communication in the workplace is essential to succeed as a professional. It can help you improve your individual and team performance, relationships with colleagues and clients, your overall engagement and your sense of belonging in the business. And not only do companies highly value good communicators, but they’re also more likely to promote them to leadership positions!
So here are the 9 ways to enhance your communication in the workplace:
1. Master non-verbal communication
Did you know that up to 55% of what you say is communicated not through words, but actually your physical signs? You should therefore learn to control your non-verbal communication so that your body language aligns with what you say. Note that simple tricks like smiling, nodding and maintaining eye contact when listening to others can demonstrate your interest and engagement.
2. Choose the best communication channel
Depending on the level of emergency, availability of your interlocutors, format constraints you may have or your desired objective, you may want to explore a variety of communication channels. Of course there are the traditional mediums such as mails, emails, phone calls or even meetings but also new technological ones like Skype, Slack or WhatsApp. Ensure you define with your manager and team the appropriate and most effective channels. Time is of the essence, use it wisely.
3. Engage in social interactions
Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level can allow you to build deeper relationships and truly facilitate communication within a work environment. Specific moments such as lunch times or after work drinks can be a great opportunity to get to know each other and establish some common grounds for effective communication.
4. Structure work meetings
In order to be effective, meetings should always have a determined agenda with a designated facilitator, clear objectives and actionable next steps. Anyone included in a meeting or work session should play their part, meaning remaining silent is absolutely counter-productive. Always remember that a one-hour meeting with 5 participants is actually 5 working hours out of operations.
5. Listen to your colleagues
A good communicator is always an effective listener. So make sure you give interlocutors your undivided attention and respect their opinion, even if it conflicts with your own. When in doubt, you can further enhance your understanding by repeating and summarizing what they’ve said after they finish speaking, making sure you’re on the same page.
6. Provide constructive feedback
If you want your opinion to be considered, be constructive – remember it’s not just what you say but also how you say it. Style and content should be paired wisely. When asked for feedback, don’t just focus on the negatives but start instead with the good aspects and then deeply develop the areas of improvement. Concrete suggestions are always welcome, especially if you’re not fully aligned with the proposed ideas.
7. Give visibility
For any given task you’re assigned, always give visibility to your stakeholders on your progress. This allows managers to know on a real-time basis how things are going and really help them accompany you to the best of their ability. If for some reason you can’t meet a deadline, anticipate and warn your colleagues or manager so that tasks can be re-prioritized. Finally, ask for regular feedback to ensure you’re on track with your mission.
8. Don’t forget to follow up
Follow-ups are key to any achievement made, especially in a fast-growing company. Taking ownership means you have to ensure you get all you need in the timeline defined, and this can’t happen if you stand by your desk waiting for others to remember your email or text message. Always schedule reminders to follow up regularly with your colleagues and/or manager. It’s easy for emails to get lost and no one will judge you for sending a gentle reminder.
Last but not least…
9. Mitigate conflicts
Always address a conflict as soon as it arises – waiting for it to blow over could actually exacerbate the problem. Instead of ignoring the issue or even worse blaming others, it is strongly advised to clear the air – a nice coffee meeting can be the perfect set-up to have a constructive discussion with the other party involved and eventually reach a compromise. Not to mention hopefully prevent the issue from reoccurring.
Considering time as a finite resource is the first step towards managing people’s availability wisely. Being professional is an absolute must when considering communication in the workplace, so embracing new habits and behaviors can really make you become an effective leader.