In the current situation, possessing only technical skills is not enough to get work done at the workplace. It doesn’t matter how hard-working or good an employee or employer you are, or how effective your working style is, your career will thrive on your soft skills. Among soft-skills, the most crucial one is communication because you can’t avoid communication in the workplace – whether it is real or virtual. Basically, completing a task or a project requires the support of the whole team, and without proper communication, things will remain under the rock.
It has been evident that adopting various techniques to ensure communication in the workplace is effective helps to create a happy workplace, to promote wellness in the workplace, helps employees in dealing with change in the workplace (like the scenario right now called for a great deal of adjustment and adaptation for professionals across the world owing to the colossal change caused by the pandemic) because the employees are satisfied, motivated and driven to achieve. Hence they are open to any kind of alterations and ammendments.
Here are some useful tips for effective communication that can help in creating a better workplace and in improving an individual’s professional life –
1. Active listening
Active listening means paying close attention to who you’re communicating with by engaging with them, asking questions and paraphrasing. Practicing active listening can build respect with your coworkers and increase understanding in the workplace. As you actively listen, focus on the speaker, avoiding distractions like cell phones, laptops or other projects, and by preparing questions, comments or ideas to thoughtfully respond.
Improve your active listening abilities by paying attention to other people’s facial expressions, body language and tone. Instead of preparing what you will say, focus on what the other person is saying and how they are saying it. If you need to clarify something, ask followup questions or rephrase what they’ve said to confirm that you understood them correctly.
A wise soul once said : ‘It is better to be kind than right’ and it is true many times. Friendly traits like respect and kindness can help foster trust and understanding when communicating at work. Try to communicate with a positive attitude, keep an open mind and ask questions to help you understand where they’re coming from. Small gestures such as asking someone how they’re doing, smiling as they speak or acknowledging and offering praise for work well done can help you foster productive relationships with colleagues and managers.
I want to share with you an interesting anecdote that happened many years back.. We had this super enthusiastic young man in our community who used to help us with errands at times. One day my mom told him to go to the market and look for some fresh vegetables. She had to take a 2 minute pause in the conversation to attend to some urgent work.. By then this young man darted to the market. Perplexed, as my mom had not yet given him the list of veggies to buy, we waited for him to return. He returned to report to my mom that the veggies were indeed fresh and available. I still remember the young me rolling with laughter, but the importance of clear communication stuck to my mind.
When you’re speaking, it’s important to be clear and audible. Adjusting your speaking voice so you can be heard in a variety of settings is a skill, and it’s critical to communicating effectively. Speaking too loudly may be disrespectful or awkward in certain settings. If you’re unsure, read the room to see how others are communicating.
Another aspect of verbal communication is tonality. This involves your tone, your pitch, your accent pattern and the pauses you place between phrases. These details essentially reveal the emotion with which you are communicating and that can help your audience interpret your message better (or worse, if you use the inappropriate tone).
4. Confidence and positive attitude
In the workplace, people are more likely to respond to ideas that are presented with confidence. There are many ways to appear confident, including body language by making eye contact when you’re addressing someone, sitting up straight with your shoulders open and preparing ahead of time so your thoughts are polished and you’re able to answer any questions.
Having empathy means that while you may not agree with another point of view, you can still try and understand from the other person’s point of view, and also acknowledge the emotions of others. This communication skill is important in both team and one-on-one settings. In both cases, you will need to understand other people’s emotions and select an appropriate response.
For example, if someone is expressing anger or frustration, empathy can help you diffuse their emotion. Being able to understand and share the feeling, when someone is feeling positive and enthusiastic can help you get support for your ideas and projects. In both the cases, the other person feels heard and understood.
A key aspect of this part is knowing when to initiate communication and respond. In a team or group setting, allowing others to speak without interruption is seen as a necessary communication skill tied to respectfulness. Respectfully communicating also means using your time with someone else wisely—staying on topic, asking clear questions and responding fully to any questions you’ve been asked.
Here’s an insightful read on how to treat employees with respect to increase productivity. This is a crucial factor as treating your team with respect (or not) can define the way they reciprocate and perform.
7. Body Language
Now the body language is another important factor in communicating well. For instance, while you’re leaning forward and your hands are very animated, it could demonstrate your enthusiasm and excitement, or it could show your aggression. In this case, your tonality and expressions come to play.
You could want to offer comfort or solace but you could come across as intruding and nosey if you end up leaning in too close to the other person. Now, on the other hand, if you are seated straight or standing straight with your shoulder wide, it indicates a calmer state of mind.
A relaxed, approachable stance with a friendly tone will encourage everyone to speak to you openly without any hesitation. Maintaining eye contact with the person with whom you are talking is also important. It establishes the fact that you are focused on that individual and the conversation. It keeps the person engaged in the conversation.
Essentially, you need to understand that non-verbal signals are also a kind of communication. Non-verbal signs such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, nodding, etc. signify how a person is actually feeling.
Good communication can help one sail through any kind of problems at the workplace. It can help employees in dealing with change – (growth, evolution, ups and downs), dealing with stress, find motivation and eventually create a happy workplace.
To read more about Change Management, you can pick up a copy of my book, also available in Kindle and Audible version from Amazon.