Communication is the key to workplace success for most jobs. If you can effectively get your point across to colleagues and listen well to your superiors, you’re on track to doing well and helping your company function as best it can.
The high stakes of the communication game are also what can make it so difficult. What do you say? How do you say it? Who do you even say it to?
Below we discuss exactly how to get your point across, how to listen well, and how to seamlessly communicate in your workplace.
Just Get To The Point Already
The number one rule for effective workplace communication according to Karen Friedman, author of Shut Up And Say Something: Business Communication Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Influence Listeners? Be as direct, to the point, and concise as possible. When vague conversation plagues the workplace, it’s important to follow the advice Friedman, a former newscaster, doles out: say the who, what, where, when, and why of your message first. By hitting the headline right away, people understand your central idea immediately without having to sift through a whole conversation.
It’s important to be as direct with bad news, too. If you have to say it, lay it out plainly and in person. It may be easier for you to send off an email or just not communicate at all, but it is far better to be straightforward with someone, and they’ll appreciate the face-to-face interaction more than an impersonal message.
If You Can’t Say Something Nice…
We all learned the idiom, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” from our mothers when we were little. This advice still holds up in the workplace! Being positive in general is always a good idea. If you are nice and exude upbeat energy, you’re less likely to be met with grumpiness or rude snipes.
Even if you aren’t so chipper, never personally attack someone. Never belittle someone. Don’t talk about your coworkers behind their backs, and don’t come off as the naysayer of every meeting. So how do you deal with disagreements? Read on...
Ask Open-Ended Questions
If you do disagree with a colleague or even your boss (because this does happen), counter with an open-ended question in order to convey respect and support. You’ll learn more from their response than you would putting them on the defensive.
Also remember that the conversation doesn’t revolve around you, and it’s important to draw other voices out. By asking open-ended questions, you’re inviting other people to join the discussion. Open-ended questions also buy you thinking time, allow other people to clarify, and prevent misinterpretations.
Change Up Your Channel
Email isn’t the only way to talk to your colleagues. If you want to give someone good or bad news, a face-to-face meeting will make your comments more meaningful. A phone call is always more personal than an email. Adding in voice and body language can really change a conversation, especially if you’re not a wordsmith. It gives the person you’re talking to more to go off of, and will help you communicate your point and sentiment more effectively. You can also showcase your active listening skills: nodding your head, paraphrasing what your colleague said, and making eye contact. Be open with your body language as well: no hands in pockets or playing with your smart phone.
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