Communication is hard. There is no way to get around the fact that you can’t control how people will interpret your words. Sometimes despite our best intentions we may come off as confrontational when we want to be welcoming or submissive when we instead want to get our point across. Though we can’t read minds and figure out what someone else hears when we communicate, we can take steps to improve our communication.
In this article we will show you how to improve your communication in the workplace. Be it through speaking directly, leaving a voicemail, or by using written correspondence, what you say and how you say it matters. Improving your communication skills will set you on a path to be better able to better understand those around you and have them understand you too. You need to communicate to succeed in the workplace see how you can improve your skills below.
Boost your listening skills – have you ever heard of the term active listening? It almost sounds silly doesn’t it? Of course, you’re being active if you are listening to someone, right? But have you ever considered if you have understood what someone was saying to you rather than simply hearing the words they speak? Active listening goes beyond simply hearing. In order to be an active listener, you need to be an active participant in the conversation with the speaker. Skills You Need provides some great tips to help you improve your active listening skills. To get started try out these strategies to improve your listening skills.
- Use eye contact – look at the person who is talking to you. Let them know that they have your full attention by being present in the conversation. Stay off your phone or turn away from your computer screen. Let them know that you are listening.
- Paraphrase – paraphrasing what the other person said to you is a great way to check your understanding. By using your own words to convey the message you just heard you allow the opportunity to ensure you and the other person are on the same page.
- Ask questions – ask clarifying or extension questions. Not only does this show you took in what the other person said, it also let’s know you want to fully understand them.
By improving your listening skills, you do more than just listen effectively. Showing people that you care about what they have to say makes them feel good too. You will come of as a more sincere and caring and may even be more approachable in the workplace which in turn can lead to more authentic communication.
Language – using appropriate language is important for more than just professionalism. Always consider your audience when speaking or sending written correspondence. If you are talking to someone who is not an expert in your industry avoid using acronyms. Sometimes people may pretend that they know what you are talking about due to not wanting to seem like they don’t understand. This weakens your message and disrupts communication. Always be as clear as possible by using full terms and using language that most people will understand.
Tone of Voice – being aware of the tone and volume of your voice is important. Try to be aware of how you sound to others when speaking. Sometimes when we have other things on our minds or have been emotionally affected by something, we may not realize our tone. Ensure that you are speaking in a tone of voice that matches your message. Whether you need to be assertive or inviting your tone should differ. Always ensure that you are speaking at an appropriate volume level.
Body Language – body language is an extremely important aspect of communication. In the workplace it is critical that you are mindful of your body. Avoid crossing your arms or legs while speaking with others. Always use eye contact and turn towards the person you are talking to. Be present in the conversation and use motions such as nodding your head to help convey that you are listening.
Punctuation and Grammar – we’ve likely all sent an email with a typo or poor grammar before. Though it is common, especially when communicating on a smartphone, typos and a lack of grammar make us look less professional. In our previous article “How to Improve Writing Skills” we provide great tips for strengthening your writing skills. For better email writing skills see our top three tips below.
- Don’t add the email until you’re ready to hit send – avoid sending an incomplete email by adding the recipients email as your last step.
- Proofread – read, re-read and then read again. If your email is important it’s worth taking the extra time. Consider reading out loud to assess tone and identify common spelling errors that a spell checker won’t catch.
- Don’t overdo the punctuation – punctuation is great for setting the tone of your email. But a long line of exclamation marks, for example, can be confusing. Are you angry, too excited? Your reader might not be able to tell. Use punctuation but do so sparingly and with purpose.
There is a time and a place for less formal correspondence. Emojis, abbreviations, and slang are best suited for communication with people you know well. Always use your best judgement when sending an email.
Improving your communication takes mindfulness, but with effort you can become a more effective communicator. Always keep in mind that the workplace is not always a casual environment and professionalism in important. Consider your audience, be it a client or a supervisor, and speak with confidence in what you are expressing.
Many young professionals and entrepreneurs struggle with being taken seriously in the workplace. By communicating in a confident and professional manner you may boost other people’s trust in your abilities and knowledge. For more tips on being taken seriously in the workplace consider our previous article “How to Be Taken Seriously as a Young Entrepreneur”.