Being an effective communicator is an invaluable skill applicable to all industries to establish positive relationships with colleagues, managers, and staff. In today’s digital age, our communication skills have extended beyond traditional office talk. Now, we’re expected to learn and understand how to communicate reliably through various software. From landing your first impression with a leader with praise, to maintaining well-constructed relationships for colleagues that lasts long-term, the following article will outline tips to strengthen your communication skills.
Learn to be an active listener
Communication is a two-way street, and as one person is talking, the other person’s role is to listen and comprehend what is being said. It is not enough to engage in a conversation where you provide opinionated discussion constantly, as that can appear as though you aren’t really paying attention to the explicit conversation. In being an active listener, you take the time to ensure your understanding of the other, clarifying certain statements to be able to respond more accurately. In other words, an active listener fully comprehends what is being said to them.
To put this skill into practice, envision you are speaking with a colleague over Zoom as you both work remote jobs. Whilst your colleague is discussing solutions to a problem you’ve both encountered, you’re thinking about scheduling another meeting at a later date. It will become clear to your colleague that you’re not paying attention to what they are saying, increasing a more tense and awkward work environment.
To avoid conflict, practice active listening by paraphrasing what your colleague said to directly let them know you are on the same page. This will force you to pay attention to everything your colleague is saying in order to reflect this afterward. Remain mentally active by noting down (metaphorically or figuratively) important words or phrases your colleague says and use these to effectively progress the conversation.
Attend to body language
Nonverbal communication encompasses your body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and so forth. These represent how we communicate with others implicitly or indirectly. Attending to nonverbal communication is critical as it helps convey our message. For example, an individual presenting an open stance (that is, arms by their side, no crossed legs) appears more approachable to engage in conversation, than someone who displays the opposite and appears withdrawn. Other telling nonverbals, such as eye contact, can determine whether a person is focusing on a conversation.
Aside from these impressions, nonverbal communication is important to discover whether someone is being truthful. A person who maintains their eye contact away from the other whilst telling them they are feeling fine can hide their true feelings in an uncomfortable interaction. If you work a remote job and mainly work from home as a result, nonverbal communication is essential to consider even when holding meetings online.
To positively apply nonverbal communication in practice, raising a good, upright posture can make you appear more confident at your job. For job interviews, maintain a steady tone of voice and appropriate eye contact to heighten this impression. Nonverbal cues, like verbal communication, can be just as telling to what a person is feeling or behaving in daily interactions.
Speak clearly and concisely
A good communicator knows how to get their point across in as little words as possible. This is because if we ramble on in a topic, we will lose our premise in the midst of the chatter and who we are speaking with will no longer be engaged. You want to say just enough that covers your points sufficiently. If this is something you struggle with, practice spending time to think about what you want to say and the message you want conveyed. This is suitable for communicating in person, or email, considering the nature of today’s remote jobs.
Be an honest and empathic communicator
For all your workplace communications, maintaining honesty is a quality invaluable in constructing relationships. A friendly face and tone will lead other individuals to engage in conversation with you and reciprocate honest conversation. With many of us working from home, this is important to apply in both verbal and written communication. For example, when sending emails, you can customise your messages to colleagues to wish them a pleasant week ahead. These polite exchanges are often lost in written text, and in this way, we can welcome them once more.
Additionally, in line with being honest and friendly, empathy is a skill that can be practiced for those it doesn’t come naturally to. Empathy is a means to demonstrate that you are actively listening to an individual and can reflect their thoughts back onto them. For instance, letting your colleague know that you understand their complex work situation already makes them feel more supported and heard. Although you may not agree with everything your co-worker says, you can still lend an open hand in hearing them out.
And a diplomatic conversationalist
Communication that is built on the foundations of trust and empathy will guide a respectful conversation between colleagues. One respectful encounter will encourage mutual understanding in the workplace and foster a beneficial organisational culture overall. That being said, conflict arises within in-office or remote jobs, where misunderstanding and miscommunication can make for a difficult workplace relationship.
If you feel as though something you’d vocalised has been misheard, talk to the person as soon as possible in order to prevent further unnecessary conflict that hinders your productivity. You want to approach this person amicably, keeping an open mind in understanding their perspective. Avoid a spiteful approach and instead ask questions to ensure your understanding. Reach a common goal that is fair and mutual to all parties as a means to move forward.
Offer regular feedback
For managers especially, providing regular feedback to employees is an important means to increase motivation in their jobs. You want to recognise your employees for their efforts and validate their role generally. Even a simple praise goes a long way in affirming an employee’s positive actions. Feedback should be constructive and solutions-oriented, consequently letting the employee know that their growth is pivotal for the organisation to succeed.
On the flip side, receiving feedback can at times feel discouraging or worrisome. Good communication is vital here, to ensure you’ve understood the feedback you are given and that it is clear to proceed in the future. You want to ask questions and clarify any queries from the start to reduce further misalignment in a team. Make an effort to support feedback in doing the actions you were asked. Remember that, in a team setting especially, a project is not complete when you hit send on an email, rather it is a collaborative journey that sustains better outcomes overall.
All in all, a good communicator is one who actively listens and responds empathically to others, constructing and maintaining positive relationships generative to the success of an organisation. Good working relationships are vital for organisations to motivate productivity and prevent unnecessary conflict. Being a good communicator will gravitate your career path into one that is supportive, hold honest conversations in your job, and overall lead a more positive mindset applicable in everyday life.