Communication is a vital part of any growing workplace. Good communication leads to happy workers, increased productivity, and team unity. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t the best at it, and the only way to get better is to practice and get comfortable with it. Here are some ways to train your communication skills and improve the way you interact with your coworkers.
Think you’re listening to your coworkers? Think again! Many of us believe that listening to what someone says just means hearing what they are saying. However, there is actually more to it than that. Lindsay Olson of US News says, “Most of us are terrible listeners. Instead of truly listening to what the person is saying, we interrupt, prepare our response, or think we already know what the speaker is going to say next. It’s impossible to understand what someone needs or wants if we don’t give them our undivided attention.”
Many of us have an instinct to ‘fire from the hip’ without thinking things through. We also tend to interrupt others when we want to get a word in. Actually listening to someone requires you to hear them out fully, pay attention to their tone of voice, and take time to accurately reply to them.
Be Accurate; Be Concise
Have you ever been told to stop “beating around the bush,” or “Don’t build me a watch, just tell me what time it is?”
When talking to your coworkers, you may find yourself explaining too much, providing too many unnecessary details, or going off on tangents. Somebody who is just looking for a straight answer to a question, or explanation for a problem, isn’t going to listen to you fully if you aren’t telling them what they need to know. On top of that, you may be wasting their time by talking too much.
Be accurate; be concise. Look for ways to trim down your explanations, and figure out the most important pieces of information you need to share with them. It will help them perform their best, and it could save you both some time to get extra things done.
Respect Their Communication Preferences
If you notice that your coworker tends to respond to emails quickly, but doesn’t answer their phone, you shouldn’t continue to call their phone. Instead, focus on sending them emails. They may not say so outright, but they will appreciate your efforts to communicate with them in way that they most prefer.
Don’t expect someone to be able to accurately dig through long email threads or to remember to check their text messages.
Recognize Your Own Communication Style
Realize how you communicate with your coworkers, especially if your style negatively impacts how you interact with them.
Scott Schreiman of Samepage says, “Does your language build bridges? Encourage conversations? Inspire ideas? Or do people shut down? Ignore you? Talk over / past / around you? These are all clues as to whether or not your coworkers value you and what you have to say. When you see that your message isn’t getting across, don’t automatically assume the recipient is the communication obstacle. It might be you. If it keeps happening, figure out how you can connect better with this person or in the specific setting. And that’s the key: create a connection, find a common thread you can both relate to authentically.”
Start communicating better. Listen, be accurate and concise, respect others’ communication preferences, and learn about your own communication style.