Improving the way you and your colleagues communicate is one of the most important things you can do to create a happy and connected culture. Ineffective communication can be detrimental to a company’s success; if a manager is consistently sending passive aggressive emails, giving unclear tasks, or putting blame on their team when something goes wrong, you are probably going to have low engagement and high turnover.
Although it is difficult to become more aware of how we communicate with our co-workers, there are a few things you can do to start improving your communication skills in the workplace:
Actively listen and ask the right questions
Even though you might have something important to say in a meeting, make sure you are actively listening to what your coworkers are saying. Active listening makes other feel heard, gives an increased sense of worth, and creates a more collaborative environment. Additionally, paying attention to every point your colleague makes will leave less room for error, and will improve your working relationship with them.
Active listening is hard work. After every meeting, feedback what you understood and ask if you missed anything important.
Use Your body language
Communication occurs in many different forms: through email, phone, slack, skype, meetings etc. Sometimes, emailing back and forth leaves room for misinterpretation, takes more time than a face to face meeting, and creates distractions. Make an effort to hold face to face meetings, it will not only save you time but will strengthen your working relationships.
During these meetings, pay attention to your body language; crossing your arms, texting or emailing, and slouching indicates that you are uninterested and not open to speaking. Remember to also maintain eye contact to build trust.
Make sure you’re being crystal clear
Something that makes complete sense to you might sound like nonsense to someone else. HR Magazine reports that in “a study of 4,000 employees showed almost half (46%) were unsure of what was being asked of them by their line manager when given tasks and over a third (37%) experienced this uncertainty between one and three times a day.” HR Magazine also states that
employees estimated this resulted in up to 40 minutes of wasted time per day – the equivalent of 83 employees in a company of 1,000 doing nothing every day.
Make sure you are very clear and specific when you delegate a task or project. Encourage your coworkers to ask questions and seek clarification. It’s also important to include a timeframe for when something should be done by.
There’s a reason why we are told to surround ourselves with positive people; it’s good for us. Positivity creates a healthy work environment and keeps people excited about the company’s mission. Focus on highlighting people’s strengths, encouraging an environment where it is ok to make mistakes, and making kind gestures. Positivity is contagious.
Take the time to gain a better understanding of how your employees feel about communication at work. Surveys and performance management tools allow you to measure this. If you find out that your employees are satisfied with workplace communication, you can use this as a way to attract talent. If you find that there is a lack of communication at your company, you can start taking steps to improve it.
It’s no secret that having good communication skills is key to succeeding in your career, maintaining healthy relationships, and connecting with people. It takes time and effort to improve, but if you are able to master having good communication skills, the hard work will pay off.