Top 10 tips for effective workplace communication
“It’s good to talk.” So said Bob Hoskins in a memorable TV ad campaign for BT many years ago. There’s no doubt he was right. But how often does effective communication happen in the workplace? Even when we have the best intentions, things can get in the way, the message can get lost in translation or it can sometimes feel that no-one is listening. Getting your message across clearly and quickly and having positive, productive conversations can have a huge impact on business success.
Here are our top ten tips for effective workplace communication:
Hold face-to-face meetings
It’s easier to communicate your passion and how you feel to your team via open meetings, rather than by email. By meeting face-to-face, people will not only hear what you’re saying, they’ll also see and feel it. This approach remains one of the best for communicating effectively with a team.
Know your audience
Target your message according to your people’s needs and interests - do some research into those if necessary. Listen carefully during the discussion. Ask questions to ensure you understand where people are coming from.
Create a receptive atmosphere
A receptive atmosphere will help you communicate more effectively. Avoid a tense environment at all costs because when you communicate in an overly intense way, your message might not be well understood or retained.
Don’t just hear: listen
Listening is an important communication skill that not everyone has. A lot of conflict in meetings is caused by poor listening. To share information with others you need to hear what’s being communicated. To learn how to listen well, paraphrase what was said to show you’re listening and to check you heard correctly.
Combine verbal and non-verbal communication
Make sure your verbal and non-verbal communication messages are in agreement. If you use positive non-verbal feedback, such as nodding your head when someone is talking accompanied by open body posture, you will help the conversation flow more smoothly and encourage colleagues to participate more freely in the discussion.
Use silence as a conversation tool
People get uncomfortable when there’s silence. They try to fill in the blanks, but not always with comments that are useful or relevant. Don’t panic when it goes quiet. Take a deep breath, stay calm and make the most of silences with confidence. A pause at the right moment will let you emphasise important information and make sure everyone’s listening.
Identify potential conflicts and handle them with diplomacy
Try and identify potential sources of conflict at an early stage of the meeting or conversation. If you feel someone has misunderstood something being communicated, talk to them about it as quickly as possible to prevent it turning into a distraction or developing into a crisis. Handle conflict with an open mind and refrain from personal attacks. If you need to make a criticism, focus on the problem, rather than the person. Ask questions and listen carefully so you can understand where the other person is coming from.
Manage time effectively
Timing can have a huge impact on the way your messages are received. Before you set up a meeting, make sure the timing’s right. Think about your colleagues – how will your meeting impact their schedules? Is first thing Monday morning, or Friday afternoon really the best time for this conversation? Choosing the right moment for your discussion can be as important as what you have to say.
Offer positive feedback
Providing positive feedback is a great way to improve workplace communication. It also helps people view you more favourably, builds trust and encourages open communication. Having a positive attitude in general at work will also open the door for effective communication prompting people to respond more favourably to you.
Reach a satisfying conclusion
Look out for signs that the other person is ready to end the conversation or move on to another topic. Make sure you end the meeting on a positive note. First impressions are important but people tend to remember the last thing said or done for longer.
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