Most people dread the thought of having to communicate at work, assuming that it’ll be rife with awkward silences and discomfort. It might not be something we look forward to, but communicating effectively in the workplace is essential for any employee. Whether you’re a receptionist, an accountant or a cleaner, you need to be able to communicate clearly and concisely with your colleagues. Communication is essentially about sharing information so that others understand what we are saying. It’s about speaking (or writing) clearly, listening attentively and using body language appropriately. The ability to communicate well is a key professional skill that will serve you well throughout your career. Being able to share information effectively is useful in all aspects of work life, from giving timely updates on projects to discussing scheduling conflicts with team members. Read on for some useful tips on how you can improve your communication skills at work through five simple techniques…
Communicate effectively by being a good listener #
For effective communication to take place, both parties must be actively engaged in the conversation. If you’re not listening attentively to what the other party has to say, they are unlikely to feel like their message has been communicated correctly. Poor listening is a common problem in the workplace, with many people struggling to stay focused on what their colleagues are saying. It’s easy to get distracted by your to-do list or be tempted to interject with your thoughts before the speaker has finished talking. To improve your listening skills, try to clear your mind of distractions, pay close attention to what the other person is saying and avoid writing your response in your head. If you’re unable to focus on the speaker, try to understand why you’re distracted. Are you feeling tired or hungry? Are you preoccupied with an upcoming deadline or project? Once you understand the source of your distraction, you can take steps to address it. If you’re feeling tired, take a short break or go for a quick walk. If you’re preoccupied with a project, try to outline a solution on paper or write a to-do list.
Use effective language #
Communicating effectively is about more than just using the right words. It’s also about choosing the best words to convey your message and emotion. When writing reports or emails, be mindful of your word choice by avoiding overly complicated words and sentences. Similarly, when speaking, choose simple words that are easy to understand. Using complicated language when communicating with a colleague will make them feel uncomfortable and less likely to engage with what you have to say. When writing emails and reports, edit your work a few times over to remove unnecessary words and sentences. When speaking, try to keep your sentences short and concise. Long, rambling sentences are difficult to follow and understand. It’s also important to choose words that convey your intended emotion. Are you trying to apologise to a colleague or explain a problem with a vendor? Avoid apologetic or apologetic language as it makes you seem weak. Instead, adopt a straightforward and factual tone.
Speak clearly and simply #
Speaking clearly and succinctly is essential, not only for effective communication, but also to make a positive impression on your colleagues. If you mumble while communicating with a colleague, they might not understand what you’re saying. Mumbling may be more common than you think, with many people failing to realise that their colleagues might struggle to understand them. If this sounds like you, you should take steps to improve your speaking skills. If you have a tendency to mumble, you might not realise it. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to talk to your colleagues about it, try to identify the cause of your mumbling. Are you feeling nervous? Nervousness can lead to mumbling, so try to calm your nerves by practicing your presentation in front of a mirror and by taking deep breaths. Are you feeling tired or hungry?
Use body language effectively #
Effective communication isn’t just limited to your words; your non-verbal communication is also incredibly important. Your posture, eye contact, hand gestures and facial expressions should be consistent with what you’re saying. If you’re speaking enthusiastically about a new project, but your body language suggests otherwise, your colleagues may not believe you. Conversely, if you’re speaking about a problem with a vendor and your body language is relaxed and casual, your colleagues may not take you seriously. Body language is hard to control consciously, especially if you become nervous. If this sounds like you, try to adopt a more deliberate and consistent body language. If you’re nervous, try to calm your nerves before communicating with a colleague. You can do this by taking a few deep breaths and visualising the positive outcome of the conversation. Once you’re calm, try to remain consistent with your words, gestures and posture. Don’t forget that your mood is contagious. If you’re angry or frustrated, take a break until you’re able to calm yourself down.
Don’t forget the importance of eye contact #
Eye contact is an essential part of any effective communication. If you’re looking at your phone or computer screen while someone is speaking to you, they’re unlikely to feel that you’re engaged in the conversation. However, maintaining eye contact can be challenging for many people, particularly if you’re feeling nervous. If you struggle to maintain eye contact when speaking with a colleague, try to identify the cause of your lack of eye contact. Are you nervous? If so, you can calm your nerves before the conversation to improve your eye contact. However, if your lack of eye contact stems from feeling shy, you might find it difficult to overcome this problem. If you struggle with eye contact, try to look at the other person’s eyes, not their nose or mouth. Slow down your speech and don’t rush through your words. Avoid looking away every time the other person blinks as this may make you appear rude and not interested in what they have to say. Squeeze your hands or interlace your fingers to avoid fidgeting while you’re speaking.
Communicating effectively at work is essential for any employee. Whether you’re a manager or an entry-level employee, you need to be able to clearly share information with your colleagues. Using these five simple techniques will help you to improve your communication skills in the workplace. Effective communication can be a challenging skill to master. It’s easy to get distracted by your own thoughts, or to feel nervous and forget to use body language appropriately. Fortunately, there are a few simple things you can do to improve your communication skills, such as being a good listener, using effective language, speaking clearly and simply, and using body language effectively.