Workplace communication constantly evolves with newer, better, faster technologies, but what happens when all these technologies are piled onto a foundation of poor communication practices? Whether in-person, over the phone, via email or through video conference there’s one constant: we’re talking to people.
The people who comprise an organization’s workforce are bound to come from various backgrounds: educational, social, economic, geographic and cultural. Effectively communicating ideas across these differences requires some serious savvy. Since communicating to individuals happens at the beginning, middle and end of most projects, the importance of effective communication in the workplace can't be over-emphasized.
#1: Learn Your Co-Workers’ Preferred Communication Styles
The more closely you know someone, the easier it is to communicate with them. Listening to and learning from co-workers lends to a greater understanding of how they process information and understand the world around them.
Work atmosphere or time constraints can hinder your ability to know someone on a more personal level, but there are other ways to learn better communication. Personality tests like Myers-Briggs, DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance) or MRA (Management Research Associates) provide insight into the characteristics and inner-workings of individuals. I recently wrote a blog detailing these assesments, click here to read it.
#2: Don’t Just Hear, Listen
Understanding what your employees want and finding ways to provide it to them is a crucial business practice. If your employees feel fulfilled and valued, they’re more likely to do their best work. Effective communication is the key to identifying and meeting employee needs.
When problems arise, approach them with an open mind and non-judgmental attitude, and avoid personal attacks. Keeping communication honest first requires creating a safe space. Then, help employees understand how their role fits within the bigger picture of the organization’s goals. This will foster an environment where employees are encouraged and rewarded for hard work.
#3: Choose Face-to-Face Communication Whenever Possible
The workplace has become more and more reliant on technology and increasingly text-based – think email and IM (instant messaging). Communicating via technology is great, it increases speed and efficiency, but email and IM neglect the art of conversation. With all parties not at the same location, the primary message can easily be missed or misinterpreted.
Some newer technologies can promote more effective communication by bringing nonverbal attributes back. For instance, video conferencing and telepresence still provides a face-to-face experience without everyone needing to be in the same physical space.
Applying These Effective Communication Practices
Before you present an idea, concept or constructive feedback, consider the individual you’re presenting it to. Think about their personality and background. With this understanding, use your knowledge of the individual as the basis for framing the conversation. Use the tips in this blog to make your workplace communication more effective.