Communicating effectively at the workplace

Effective workplace communication clinches on verbal and non-verbal issues. It is based on listening, being courteous and body language awareness.

Connecting face-to-face today is replaced by digital communication and we may be losing the human touch; this could bring in barriers because it sets aside parameters such as body language, speaking cadence and tone. Effective workplace communication is based on interpersonal, professional relationships that are developed through a keen awareness of courtesy, attentive listening, active participation and situation appropriate body language. But it may also happen that simple messages are often misconstrued, taken out of context or just ignored.

Here are some secret mantras for working out crystal-clear communication, and you might consider these factors when crafting a message at the workplace:

  • Network and play on the personal touch – For effective communication, networking in your workplace is imperative. Keep attempting to speak with colleagues outside your department as often as possible to learn more about the company. This will in turn, present you as a more interesting professional and will also send signals to your boss that you are professionally invested in the company. Moreover, it will allow you to expand your skills to communicate outside. Keep the warmth and humour alive too as it will have a positive appeal.
  • Have a courteous attitude – Remember the three Cs – courteous, clear and consistent. Keep that up in your attitude and demeanor. Being courteous gives others the impression that you care. When asking for advice or assistance, do not hesitate to use the phrase “would you please” and always show gratitude to promote rapport. Asking follow up questions such as “Have I explained this clearly?” builds trust and reflects consistency in creating rapport. This also helps to build bridges, and provides less scope for miscommunication.
  • Participate actively – Conversations should be active between participants, allowing the other to make a statement, observation, or ask a question without interruption or negative reaction. Besides work-related topics, have something interesting to say. Reading the newspaper in the morning to help gain an understanding of what is occurring outside the workplace. For conversations that are work-related, read trade or industry publications to stay informed and up-to-date. Effective communication is not only about listening; it is about being able to bring an interesting or informed opinion to the conversation.
  • Identify communication blocks at the workplace – The most common workplace communication barriers are – half-hearted listening, interrupting others, inappropriate reactions, jumping to conclusions, failure to recognize body language signals and gender differences. Most persons are aware these are negative actions in the workplace. However, the last two are more subtle. To be more effective in your workplace communication, you must be conscious of how you are presenting yourself. For instance, body language synchronicity means having your actions match your words and tone. In addition, recognizing and accepting that women and men communicate differently is important; women gesticulate more to demonstrate what they are saying and use more words then men when communicating.
  • Understand body language – Body language is perhaps the strongest part of effective workplace communication because gestures and facial expressions speak volumes. It tells the listener what you are thinking or what your attitude is regardless of what you are verbalising. If you find a new decision unfair, you may not speak out, but your body language will reveal your true feelings.

One important thing to keep in mind is that most human beings prefer that you get straight to the point. Regardless of your message or medium, make it simple and quick. Remove excess and distribute the cleanest version of your message. That’s how you get attention, gain credibility and get through to an audience.

Finally, always deliver bad news in person. It may seem easier to convey negative information via e-mail, but keeping the personal touch on will be more suitable and you will be able to tackle the situation with empathy.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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