You've heard it before - communication is key. There’s a lot more to your career than going to work, doing your job, and going home. To become a valued team player, you need to be an effective communicator and that doesn’t come easily for everyone. So what does it take to be a top communicator in the workplace? Read on to find out.
1. Active listening
There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Think back to the last conversation you had – were you really listening or were you simply waiting for your next opportunity to speak?
By being an attentive, active listener, you’ll find yourself far more invested in the conversation. This is especially important in the workplace where life is built around communicating. Give your colleagues your full attention. That might mean you take the conversation into a quiet meeting room or reschedule it for when you don’t have a hundred other things to do.
2. Show respect
Every colleague, whether your peer, your superior or your assistant, deserves respect. It’s important to be mindful of how you’re talking to people, not just the words you’re using. Ensure you consider your colleagues’ feelings and don’t talk down to them.
This can be especially important when talking to newcomers to your business or industry as they might lack the skills or knowledge that you take for granted every day. Don’t assume that everyone has your experience – if you find yourself finding someone’s opinion nonsensical, don’t rush to shut them down. That’s how professional debates become heated arguments. Instead, remain positive and, most importantly, explain why you disagree.
3. Ask questions
Communication is a two-way street so be wary of lecturing. Sometimes we can be so eager to make a point that we don’t give the other person any time to express their opinions.
If you find yourself disagreeing with a colleague, look for clarity. You do this by asking questions. Not only does it help the conversation progress, but it also shows that you’re 100% engaged in the discussion. That’s what makes the difference between a back-and-forth battle and a sharing of opinions.
4. Give constructive feedback
Criticism is a tricky thing – no-one really likes receiving it and giving it is sometimes even worse. But it’s unavoidable in the workplace – no-one is going to be perfect 100% of the time so there’s going to be a point when you have to dish out some negative feedback.
The key is to keep your feedback focused. What was good and what was bad? Make a list for each and feedback on both. Avoid taking your colleagues’ skills for granted. Just because someone has done something great 100 times in a row doesn’t mean they don’t deserve recognition for their continued good work.
The sandwich method is a tried and tested technique – positive, negative, positive. If you have more negatives than positives, then make sure you keep it constructive and don’t focus solely on the negative.
5. Keep an open mind
If you go into a conversation with a closed mind, you’re unlikely to come away with anything except the information and opinions you went in with. It’s important to be willing to learn and show the person you’re speaking to that you’re open to new thoughts and ideas.
Don’t go into a conversation with a concrete argument and refuse to budge. Instead, really listen to what the other person is saying and form your response when they’ve finished.
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