One of the most fascinating things about humans is our art of communication. Have you ever sat in a busy park or train station and watched people’s interactions with one another? I confess that I am a “people watcher”, not to see silly outfits or wild hair, but mainly because I am drawn to watching others communications…or lack of communications! It’s amazing that so many things can be communicated effectively, while so many others are misinterpreted or completely missed by another individual. It truly is an art which everyone could improve upon.
Communication in an office environment is one of the most difficult areas for individuals to excel. With email, instant chats and texts mixed with diverse personalities and the pressures of work, effective communication can be difficult to say the least. Most mistakes in the office boil down to a communication error – either on the giving or receiving end. The goal is to try to reduce these errors by communicating to your employees or coworkers in a way that everyone understands. Tossing words at your colleagues or clients and hoping all the information sticks doesn’t always work. Instead of assuming others aren’t listening to you, turn your focus inward to your communication style. If others don’t understand, you aren’t communicating effectively.
To avoid problems, make your conversations and emails with others clear. One way to become a better communicator is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes – what information do they already know, what don’t they know and what will they need to know for the task at hand. Remember that no one is a mind reader, so you will need to fill in all the blanks as well as clearly explain instructions or next steps. Regularly check in with others to confirm their understanding throughout the conversation or add it to the end of an email. Most individuals will ask questions if they are uncertain of the expectations or end goal, but offering to answer questions first sets the tone for a judgment-free environment. Another important tool of effective communicating is good listening. If you aren’t listening to your client, employee or colleague, there is no possible way that you can respond well to their question or concern. Just as stated above, if you are unclear on the inquiry or information request, ask a follow up question instead of charging ahead – it may just save you time and a headache later.
Effective communication in the workplace is key for great relationships between colleagues and clients. Communication is something everyone can (and should) work to improve to cultivate a productive workplace.