June is Effective Communications Month, and it’s a good time to work on your communicator skills. After all, effective workplace communication can translate to better working conditions. One study suggests that professional teams who communicate effectively can improve their productivity by up to 25 percent! Are poor communication skills sabotaging your professional prospects? That’s Good HR has some tips for upping your communication game and ensuring your voice is heard in the workplace.
Good communication starts with being a good listener. When you’re on the receiving end of a conversation, how well are you really listening to what the other person is saying? There’s a term called “active listening,” and it’s a skill that can serve you well in the business world. Active listening has several components that work together to ensure that you’re actively participating in the conversation.
Pay attention to what the other person is saying. It’s natural to start working on our response. That’s unfair to the other person, who deserves your complete attention.
Use non-verbal communication to demonstrate your attention. Your body language makes a difference. Keep your expression neutral and make sure your posture is open and inviting. Put your phone away – it’s too tempting to check it when you hear a text notification.
Provide appropriate feedback. If you’re not sure where the other person is going in the conversation, ask for clarification. The phrase “I hear you saying” can give you a chance to affirm that you’re interpreting the conversation correctly.
Stay calm. Even if the conversation is triggering strong emotions, a calm response will facilitate communication better than an angry one.
Practice good communicator etiquette
Time is precious at work, so make the most of each conversation. Good communication etiquette ensures that others interpret your message correctly and can cut down on misunderstanding:
Be clear and concise. Workplace communication doesn’t necessarily require a period of small talk before you arrive at the point you want to make. Include the necessary information to help the other person understand what you need.
Say what you mean. There’s no room for passive aggressive behaviors at the workplace. Asking your coworkers if you can come to lunch with them is much more effective than mumbling “Nobody ever invites me to lunch” under your breath.
Don’t interrupt or talk over people. Give the other person the same type of respect you want for yourself. This goes back to the active listening techniques described above. Use your communication skills to reinforce your commitment to the work team.
Know when to write it out – and when to talk
In today’s technology-heavy world, many people are programmed to communicate via texts or emails. A text can be a time-saver, but you also can lose the important nuance that accompanies the conversational tone of a face-to-face discussion. Emails are a great method of sharing updates and keeping your coworkers in the loop, but a live conversation – either in person or on the phone – ensures that you’re getting the response you need in a timely manner. How many times has a work project hit pause because nobody replied to your email? Pick up the phone and get things started again. On the other hand, written communication is essential for record keeping. If you want some sort of proof that a conversation occurred, get it in writing.
Reach out to your remote coworkers
Remote work is becoming standard in many workplaces, with as many as 27 percent of U.S. employees now working remotely. If you’re working remotely, stay tied in with the team by regularly checking in. It can be as simple as a morning update to tell your colleagues what you’re working on and how you might be able to work together to make it better. If you’re working on-site and an important discussion is taking place, involve your remote colleagues via a phone or video call.
Communicate good news and gratitude
Did a coworker go above and beyond to help you reach a deadline? Is a colleague hitting it out of the park on a new project? Jot down a few words and leave a note of gratitude on her desk. Or, applaud him publicly for his efforts during the next team meeting. People like to know they’re appreciated. Effective communication can ensure they do.
When you work on your professional workplace skills, you’re opening the door for increased engagement and productivity at work. Stay connected to your coworkers and your workplace with regular, valuable communication.