Often, communicating at work can be tricky. People express themselves differently, and misunderstandings can have serious consequences. When conflict arises, separating the personal from the professional can be difficult. Below are five tips for effective, drama-free communication at work.
Start With the Headline
Your time is precious, and so is that of the person you’re communicating with. The more efficient you are in your communication, the better for everyone involved. Communication coach Karen Friedman recommends taking a cue from journalism and leading with the headline, or the crux of what you need to say. You may need to include some supporting details for context, but you don’t need to share the entire story that led up to the current question.
Choose Talk Over Type
You may find situations where email is the most effective way to communicate, such as when you need to get a simple message to a large group. But when an issue arises that requires a quick chat with one other person, a phone call or face-to-face conversation is the best choice. When someone hears your voice, that person identifies emotional gradients that are key to building rapport and facilitating comprehension. Who wouldn’t appreciate one less email in the inbox?
Notice Nonverbal Cues
When you have in-person conversations at work, spoken words are only one part of the communication. We send powerful social signals with our bodies. By learning to be conscious of these nonverbal signals, we can become better communicators.
One of the best nonverbal habits to develop is maintaining eye contact. Another is “mirroring” simple movements and gestures, such as folding one’s hands or crossing one’s legs. Mirroring is a great technique to practice in preparation for any number of professional situations, from meetings to job interviews after completing a master’s business degree program.
By sending positive, nonverbal signals, you’ll build rapport with your colleagues. If you notice that someone is sending negative signals, such as avoiding eye contact or slouching, these signs may indicate the person has a concern or question that needs attention.
No one likes being talked at. Effective communication is a two-way street. Ask questions and leave room for other people to speak up. When communicating in a group, encourage less outspoken team members to take part, so their ideas are not drowned out by those with more assertive personalities. In one-on-one conversations, ask if the other person has any questions or wants you to know anything before moving on.
Keep It Courteous
One of the unfortunate side effects of the increased reliance on digital communication is a loss of courtesy in the workplace. “Please” and “thank you” are often left out of quickly written emails. Opportunities to recognize the concerns and efforts of others are often overlooked. Make an effort to be courteous in all of your professional communications. Thank people when they help you and praise them for their good work. Even small courteous gestures are ones people appreciate and remember.
By observing a few guidelines when communicating with colleagues at work, you can build relationships, avoid conflict, and create a better environment for yourself and the people you work with.