“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and we should use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others,” motivational speaker Tony Robbins once said. In the workplace, communication can be key to a company’s success. But, of course, there will be times that you may find communicating with your co-workers, employees, or boss difficult. There are, however, steps you can take to make sure communication flows smoothly.
Off to a Good Start
When you first walk into your office, make sure to greet everyone, even if you don’t directly work with them. This will help you maintain a path to communication not only for that day but in the future.
Pick Your Battles
While it is great to fight for what you believe in, some times confrontation and arguing isn’t always the correct route to take. If you fight for every point, people will stop listening and brand you as a complainer or hard to work with. Know when is the best time to speak your mind–and when you should hold your tongue.
When people work together there will be times you just don’t get along. But this can be a problem when co-workers are brainstorming. So, you must learn to set aside your differences to address the issues at hand. “First and foremost, don’t attack their solution,” warns small business expert Princess Clark-Wendel of Princess Clark Consulting, Inc. “Find some value in their solution/tactic and start from a center of appreciation. It’s not unusual for people to find themselves at odds with other people, especially in the workplace, because we spend so much of our lives working. One way to get your point across without getting into an argument is to find the good and/or value in the boss’s/employee’s solution, show praise and appreciation about it and then ask questions about the solution and its implementation. Let them know that you are on their side and you just want to make sure they have all their bases covered. Asking questions not only helps you gain clarity, but it also gets the person you are at odds with thinking about their solution. As you know there is often more than one way to get to a destination: get them to consider the other route by being an ally and not a foe.”
Keep An Open Ear
One of the most important keys to being a good communicator is to be a good listener. Let your co-worker know you are listening by nodding your head, adding your opinion and asking pertinent questions.
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Does it seem like you’re talking to the air and your point just doesn’t seem to be getting across. You really think it’s a good idea—but don’t push, advises Clark-Wendel. “Perhaps the message was not received clearly and the person simply just did not understand what you were trying to communicate. Many times when communication breaks down, we get upset and don’t probe further. We head off in a hissy, which only complicates things more at work,” she says.
Keep It Face-to-Face
Emails and telephone calls are great to pass along information and confirm meetings but when you want to argue a point, it’s best to do it in person. But when you do confront someone, always be polite, friendly, and keep your cool.
Freedom of Speech
Encourage an atmosphere of communication in the workplace. “One of the things that I suggest is the Gripe Box. The purpose of the Gripe Box was to encourage employees to gripe about anything they wanted to,” offers Clark-Wendel. “The only caveat is to have at least two solutions on how their gripe should be handled. The Gripe Box does a few things; first it got the griper thinking about the gripe. Many times, they would not have even placed the gripe in the box if they had come up with a solution. Instead, they would simply go about implementing the solution. Next, they might discover that the gripe really wasn’t a gripe and they wouldn’t write anything. Finally, it gave them an open forum to write and communicate freely if they felt like they couldn’t speak openly to a supervisor.”