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Workplace communication skills are highly valued but are often found to be lacking. According to a 2016 survey from the IT firm Comparably, 52 percent of respondents stated they felt management needed to learn better communication skills. With improved communication, you’re creating an environment conducive to workplace success. The following are a few simple rules to follow when looking to become a better communicator.
Get a Feel for the Environment
Each employee will have different preferences when it comes to communicating. Learning those preferences helps you open the lines of communication in a positive way. For instance, a new hire may prefer to communicate via instant messenger while your longtime assistant has always done better with face-to-face meetings.
Think Before Reacting
A good communicator allows for reflection. Reacting to a situation without first gathering facts is bound to backfire. Reviewing key details not only allows you time to confirm information but also to mitigate any knee-jerk emotional reactions.
Clarify, Clarify, and Clarify Some More
Unless employees moonlight as psychics, they aren’t mind readers. Don’t assume they’ll instinctively know your expectations in regards to a project. Accountability checklists will help everyone on your team understand their personal responsibilities. Deadlines need to be firmly stated. Don’t say you’ll need a project at some point next week when you truly need it by Friday morning.
Be Mindful of Body Language
Negative body language can often contradict what you’re trying to say. Examples of body language to avoid include slouching, averting your eyes, crossing your arms, shaking your head, and nodding too often.
Become an Active Listener
Active listening is one of the core principles behind positive workplace communication. An active listener will take the time to fully absorb the person’s complete message while also providing non-verbal listening cues. In response, an active listener will paraphrase what a person is saying and ask open-ended questions.
Aim for Transparency
Employees will not thrive in an environment where they don’t feel respected. Always keep them in the loop about any significant changes going on inside the company. If an employee is worried about their job security, his or her work will suffer. Offering constructive criticism frequently is another way to assist employees in feeling secure about their place in the company fold.
Develop a Social Intranet for the Company
A social intranet is made up of virtual tools to help employees and management better communicate. Within the software program, users can share ideas, upload calendars, and download relevant documentation. Everything is saved within the intranet, which allows everyone to go back and look at past communications. Social media pages for your company are also helpful for team building purposes.
Creating and sharing company goals is the cornerstone of a good communication policy. Talking to your team about what you envision the business achieving will help keep everyone on the same page.
Show Confidence, Not Cockiness
Despite your seniority, management should never talk down to any employees in lower level positions. Avoid being condescending when speaking to others. However, don’t be passive either. Remember to use action verbs often when talking to your team.
Timing is Everything
A good communicator will know the best times to broach certain subjects. For instance, talking about a complex project with an employee on his first morning back after an extended leave may not work out well. Post-lunch face-to-face meetings are often preferred overall if you’re looking to optimize attendance and performance.
Becoming a good communicator is a skill you build upon over time. As you improve your conversation skills, you’ll develop a reputation for being a team player.