In the workplace, as well as in everyday life and relationships, good communication is essential for building healthy connections with your co-workers, promoting teamwork, and achieving company goals. It goes without saying (pardon the pun) that clear, direct communication is key to a vibrant and successful workplace. However, communicating at work is not always easy for everyone. Everyone is unique and has different skills that are required in the workplace, and for some, communication skills are not their strong point. But regardless of the lack of skills, communicating at work is essential for the overall culture. The good news is, we can develop our workplace communication skills and learn how to effectively communicate at work with workshops, training and practising awareness of good communication. There are also a few simple things we can share here to support positive communication at work, but first, let’s get down to basics.
What is Effective Communication in the Workplace?
Communication is the process of how we share information from one person to another. Workplace communication can take many forms, including verbal, non-verbal, written, or visual. It’s not just about exchanging information, it’s also about understanding and interpreting the message being sent. Too many times, we think we have communicated something in a certain way, but often it is interpreted incorrectly because our poor communication skills have not confirmed that the message was received in the way it was intended.
Effective communication involves sending and receiving messages accurately and clearly.
So, what are some of the benefits of improving workplace communication skills?
- Better teamwork and less conflict. Conflict in the workplace most often starts with miscommunication, leading to negative or toxic relationships. Improve communication and you’ll build a more trusting and bonded team.
- Increased morale, motivation and collaboration. By effectively communicating ‘why’ you are asking your employee or teammate to do something, and not just communicating ‘what’ they must do, you will find they are much more motivated and in turn, this will increase team culture and positive collaboration.
- Improved productivity. With a more engaged workforce, developed through connection and loyalty, productivity will automatically improve, increasing the bottom-line of the business … and it all comes down to effective communication in the workplace.
How Do You Communicate Effectively and Learn to Improve Communication Skills?
Effectively communicating at work is not just about speaking … but also listening. That is one of the first tips we can share. We spend way too much time formulating what we want to say, or how we will reply, rather than truly listening and participating in the conversation.
Learning to communicate effectively goes hand in hand with improving your communication skills. When you are aware of each of these areas of communication, you can begin to practise each one, which will, of course, support you to improve your workplace communication skills.
- Practise Active Listening: Pay attention to the person speaking to you. Listen actively to what they are saying. Ask questions and clarify if necessary. Don’t interrupt them while they’re speaking. If in doubt, repeat what they’ve told you to ensure you have heard them correctly.
- Be clear and concise: Communicating your message is easier when it’s done clearly. Use simple language that’s easy to understand. Avoid using technical jargon or confusing the other person. Particularly if you want someone to follow instructions, being clear and direct will be helpful.
- Use written communication: If the instructions are more complex, put it in writing and ask them to confirm their understanding. Practise writing short and concise emails, reports or memos.
- Use body language: Non-verbal communication can be just as important as verbal communication. Your body language can communicate your level of confidence, interest, or disinterest. Be aware of what message your body is sending.
- Maintain eye contact: Make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to. It shows that you’re engaged in the conversation.
- Avoid distractions: Avoid distractions such as your phone or computer while you’re communicating with someone. It shows respect for the person and the message they’re conveying.
- Practice public speaking: Public speaking is an important skill in any workplace. It can help you communicate your message effectively in meetings, presentations, or speeches.
- Feedback: This is a 2-way street. Provide feedback to the person speaking to you. Let them know you understand their message and always remember to ask for clarification if needed. Feedback can help you identify areas for improvement, as well as help you become a better communicator.
These are some great ways of ensuring both parties are engaged in effective communication, and they can be practised. When you are learning and developing your workplace communication skills, think about these tips the next time you are communicating at work. And if it’s possible, seek out and request attendance at some communication workshops. What you will learn will be a great advantage to your communication skills.
And by learning and improving workplace communication skills, you will now be in the advantageous position of recognising when a team member is not communicating well. This will have a significant impact on how you handle the possibility of miscommunication and how you can deal with it.
How to Recognise Poor Communication in the Workplace
Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even project failure, and with your new awareness around workplace communication, you will respond differently. Here are some signs of poor communication in the workplace:
- Lack of clarity: If the message is unclear or confusing, it can lead to misunderstandings.
- Misunderstandings: Misunderstandings occur when the message is not interpreted in the way the sender intended, and in some cases, can lead to conflict.
- Lack of feedback: Feedback is essential in any communication process. A lack of feedback is a sign that a person may need to improve their workplace communication skills.
- Body language: Poor body language is a big give-away when people are struggling to effectively communicate.
- Interrupting: When someone regular interrupts a conversation, it is a clear sign that they are a poor communicator, and very likely not fully understanding the message you want to send.
- Overly Responsive: When a person tends to react quickly, often with a defensive attitude, it is a sign they are a poor communicator. They are not actively listening to the conversation as they are quickly making assumptions and reacting.
- Distractions: When a person is distracted by other people or their device, it is a clear sign they are not engaged in the conversation.
Can you recognise any of these signs in your communication skills?
With an awareness of how important effective communicating can benefit the whole environment and culture of an organisation, it’s easy to see why improving workplace communication skills is so important. Being an effective communicator allows you to inspire your team to achieve better results with fewer misunderstandings. It contributes to the success of the company and your own personal success as a leader.
We hope our brief introduction into improving workplace communication skills has given you some insights into how you can encourage and inspire others in your organisation to take notice and improve their communications skills. If you want to know more, or discuss this in detail, don’t hesitate to contact us at District32, where we have a wealth of business resources to assist businesses in all stages of growth.