How to communicate effectively in the workplace

Sharing ideas, giving instructions, and confirming important details are all aspects of how to communicate effectively in the workplace. That’s the way it’s always been; but technology has significantly altered the way we communicate. See for example Robert Half’s excellent article on how each generation has adapted to changes in communication technology.

But through all the tech changes, people are still people. Relationships are still built on good communication. Many tips for effective communication remain the same, gadgets or no gadgets. And that’s because all of us still appreciate clarity, good manners, and respect. In this post, we’ll focus on face-to-face communication. Here’s 4 tips.

1. Say just what you mean

Karen Friedman has decades of experience as a communicator in business and television. She told Forbes that in the workplace, “It is absolutely critical to be as direct, to the point and concise as possible.”

Vagueness is unhelpful and too common. It can be remedied simply by spelling out who, what, where, when and why. Don’t cloud your communication with unnecessary details. Use simple and correct words, and you won’t have to waste time explaining yourself.

2. Be interested

Along with your concise words, your appearance and attitude can either help or hinder your message. If you slouch, keep your hands in your pockets and avoid eye contact, you will appear uninterested. Face-to-face communication should be just that. Don’t try to multitask, with your eyes darting back to your phone or computer screen.

Your tone of voice can also indicate interest, whether you agree or not. And don’t forget well placed cues to show that you have understood what is being said. It may be as simple as a nod or a smile.

3. Avoid conflict

If your message could be perceived as negative or controversial, look for some common ground. Susan Heathfield, from The Balance, advises, “If the message content resonates and connects, on some level, with the already-held beliefs of the receiver, it is most effective.”

Sometimes there is no disguising bad news, but it can be cushioned by thinking in advance how it is likely to be received. If you need to terminate someone’s employment, for example, it would show more understanding to do this in person, not by email or phone.

4. Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to contribute your own perspective to the mix. When you ask questions, show that you are interested in the answer by waiting for it. Your colleagues will appreciate your patience.

Although technology is constantly providing new forms of communication, many workers and supervisors still prefer to be kept in the loop with a real conversation. A later post will look at tips for effective communication via email or phone.