For companies that want to grow bottom-line performance, improving communication is a great place to start. Effective communication in the workplace involves basic skills that are easy to demonstrate. Unfortunately, good communication doesn’t always happen. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of recommendations that could help strengthen your workplace communication.
1. Choose to Change
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is not a good use of time. Improvement is a byproduct of change. Change is a matter of choice. Those who excel at communicating with others are routinely working on their skills. For anyone working to improve communications with direct reports or others, understand change is required. The power of effective communication in the workplace provides an instant competitive advantage to those who have it. The journey begins with the first step and is a matter of choice.
2. Make Connections
While reaching others is relatively easy, connecting with them is entirely different. Great communicators understand the power of connection and do whatever they can to establish it. Managers help themselves when they take the time to build rapport with direct reports. By getting to know employees in advance, communication can become more personable and tailored to the preferred styles of the individuals involved. Connection is vital and its powerful leverage for influence and persuasion.
3. Communicate Clearly
Communication is the art of recreating in someone else's mind a replica of what's in yours. It's the process of translating your thoughts into words in an effective and meaningful manner. Clarity of communication is not only about using words, it's about using the right words. Avoid using industry jargon, slang, or acronyms. For example, an aerial platform or boom lift in construction is often called a "cherry picker." While that may be common knowledge to some, it can be confusing for those new to the industry or those whose native language isn't English. Help others understand by using plain text and proper terms.
4. Own Your Misunderstandings
There are a number of reasons why communication may break down. Blaming others is the least effective response and often results in further complications in reaching others effectively. Good communicators own the process. They recognize their role and assume responsibility for not only what's communicated but what's understood. When breakdowns occur, seize the opportunity to learn from the experience. By owning the misunderstanding, you can do something meaningful about it.
5. Focus On Improvement
Perfection, or the pursuit of perfection, often impedes progress. No matter who you are or what academic background you might have, improving communication in the workplace is what matters most. Accept mistakes as opportunities for improvement. Learn from them and use the experience as a platform for growth. Most importantly, understand that improvement in communication as a supervisor or manager is a journey, not a destination.
6. Learn to Listen
Communication is most effective when it flows in both directions. Collaboration and dialogue are critical to making needed connections and verifying understanding. Two-way communication often identifies oversights or much-needed adjustments in strategy. Learn to listen. One of the most classic examples of why this is so important came from a coaching session with a quality control (QC) manager at a manufacturing site in Tennessee. Through improved communications with welders, the QC manager was able to identify the root cause of poor welds. She discovered the heating element in the welding rod storage box was defective. The manager resolved the problem quickly by engaging with the welders, communicating with the purpose of understanding, and listening to what they had to say.
How can you apply what you know?
Knowledge is only effective when applied. Effective communication in the workplace is vital. However, good communication habits must be committed to practice to realize the benefits they offer. Pick one or two things that may have connected with you from the list provided and commit to working on them. Remember, the goal shouldn't be to perfect communication practices but rather to improve them. The hardest and most crucial step is always the first. Take that step today and enjoy the journey that unfolds before you.